, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 170-174

Von Willebrand Factor, Red Cell Fragmentation, and Disease Activity in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

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Abstract

This study sought to determine whether the plasma levels of Von Willebrand factor (vWf) and the degree of red blood cell (RBC) fragmentation on peripheral smear correlate with disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Forty consecutive patients who fulfilled the criteria for SLE were studied prospectively for 1 year. Patients were categorized according to the SLE Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI) as either active (>2) or inactive disease and followed up monthly (active) or quarterly (inactive). At each visit, patients were examined fully and had complete blood count, tests on antibodies to double-stranded DNA, C3, and C4 levels, and urinalysis. Citrated plasma was analyzed for vWf antigen by standard enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. A Wright’s stained blood smear was obtained and schistocytes were quantitated on blood smear. The number of schistocytes per 500 RBCs was determined and a schistocyte index (SI) was calculated. At baseline, vWf correlated with SLEDAI (r = 0.64, p < 0.01), SI correlated with SLEDAI (r = 0.62, p < 0.01), and vWf and SI correlated with each other (r = 0.41, p = 0.01). There was an inverse correlation between baseline C3 levels and vWf (r = 0.49, p = 0.0013) and C3 levels and SI (r = 0.40, p = 0.01). Over time, there was also a correlation of SLEDAI with vWf (r = 0.53, p = 0.002) and SI (r = 0.57;p = 0.002). The relation of vWf with SI approached but did not reach statistical significance (r = 0.37, p = 0.06). We found that the plasma levels of vWf and the degree of RBC fragmentation correlate with lupus disease activity over time. Therefore, inflammation in SLE may be associated with endothelial injury.

Level of Evidence: Level II: Development of diagnostic criteria on the basis of consecutive patients with reference to a gold standard.