Rheumatology International

, Volume 39, Issue 6, pp 1027–1036 | Cite as

Progression of atherosclerosis versus arterial stiffness with age within and between arteries in systemic lupus erythematosus

  • Paola C. Roldan
  • Ernest R. Greene
  • Clifford R. Qualls
  • Wilmer L. SibbittJr.
  • Carlos A. RoldanEmail author
Observational Research


The progression of atherosclerosis versus arterial stiffness with age within and between arteries has not been defined. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a human model of accelerated arterial disease that may permit this determination. 76 SLE patients (69 women, age 37 ± 12 years) and 26 age-and-sex-matched controls (22 women, age 34 ± 11 years) underwent transesophageal echocardiography and carotid ultrasonography for assessment of atherosclerosis [plaques and intima–media thickening (IMT)] and arterial stiffness [increased pressure-strain elastic modulus (PSEM)] of the descending thoracic aorta and carotid arteries. Since IMT is highly associated with plaques, IMT was used as a marker of atherosclerosis to assess its progression in relation with age and PSEM. Aortic and carotid plaques, IMT, and PSEM were greater in patients than in controls (all p ≤ 0.05). Within the aorta and within the carotid arteries, the average percent increases per decade of age for IMT versus PSEM were similar in patients (8.55% versus 9.33% and 3.39% versus 2.46%, respectively) and controls (5.53% versus 6.60% and 4.75% versus 3.49%, respectively) (all p ≥ 0.58). However, in SLE patients, the average percent increases per decade of age for IMT and PSEM were higher in the aorta than in the carotid arteries (8.55% and 9.33% versus 3.39% and 2.46%, respectively, both p ≤ 0.03). In patients with SLE, atherosclerosis and arterial stiffness progress with age parallel to each other within arteries, but divergently between arteries with different anatomy and hemodynamics.


Aorta Carotid arteries Atherosclerosis Arterial stiffness Systemic lupus erythematosus 



Special thanks to Janeen Sharrar, RN, and Julia Middendorf, RN, for their outstanding job as coordinators of this study.


This research was funded by the Grant RO1-HL04722-01-A6 by the National Institutes of Health/National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and in part by the National Center for Research Resources and National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences through the Grant Number 8UL1-TR00004-1.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

None of the authors have financial or non-financial conflicts of interest to disclose.

Ethical approval

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.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

296_2019_4267_MOESM1_ESM.docx (17 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 16 KB)
296_2019_4267_MOESM2_ESM.docx (19 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 19 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Divisions of Cardiology and Rheumatology, Department of MedicineUniversity of New Mexico School of Medicine, Cardiology 5-ACC, MSC 10-5550, University of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA

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