Relationship between cerebral microbleeds and white matter MR hyperintensities in systemic lupus erythematosus: a retrospective observational study
White matter hyperintensities (WMH) and cerebral microbleeds (CMBs) are known to be associated with small vessel diseases (SVD) and neuroinflammation. The purpose was to investigate the relationship between CMBs and WMH in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Thirty-one SLE patients with WMH and 27 SLE patients with normal brain MRI were compared. The presence, location, and grading of CMBs were assessed using susceptibility-weighted images. WMH volume was quantitatively measured. Clinical characteristics and serologic markers were compared. We also performed two separate subgroup analyses after (1) dividing WMH into inflammatory lesion vs. SVD subgroups and (2) dividing WMH into those with vs. without CMB subgroups.
The WMH group showed more frequent CMBs than the normal MR group (p < 0.001). The WMH group showed higher SLE disease activity index, longer disease duration, and a higher incidence of antiphospholipid syndrome than the normal MR group (p = 0.02, 0.04, and 0.04, respectively). There was a moderate correlation between WMH volume and CMB grading (r = 0.49, p = 0.006). Within the WMH group, the inflammatory lesion subgroup showed more frequent CMBs and larger WMH volume than the SVD subgroup (p < 0.001 and 0.02, respectively). The WMH with CMB subgroup had larger WMH volume than the WMH without CMB subgroup (p = 0.004).
In patients with SLE, CMBs could be related to large-volume WMH and inflammatory lesions. CMBs along with severe WMH could be used as an imaging biomarker of vasculitis in patients with SLE.
KeywordsSystemic lupus erythematosus White matter Cerebral microbleeds Magnetic resonance imaging Susceptibility weighted imaging
White matter hyperintensities
Systemic lupus erythematosus
SLE disease activity index
Small vessel disease
Neuropsychiatric systemic lupus erythematosus
Central nervous system
Compliance with ethical standards
This study was funded by a grant from the Korean Health Technology R&D Project, Ministry of Health and Welfare, Republic of Korea (Grant no. HI09C1379 [A092077]).
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. For this type of study formal consent is not required.
For this type of retrospective study formal consent is not required.
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