Vascular endothelial growth factor in systemic lupus erythematosus: relationship to disease activity, systemic organ manifestation, and nailfold capillaroscopic abnormalities
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Introduction: The aim of the study was to evaluate whether vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) serum level is associated with systemic organ involvement, microvascular changes as determined by nailfold capillaroscopy, and disease activity of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Materials and Methods: Serum levels of VEGF were determined by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in 47 SLE patients and in 30 healthy controls. Nailfold capillaroscopy was performed in all patients and healthy subjects. Results: Morphological changes were observed by nailfold capillaroscopy in 45 of 47 (95.7%) SLE patients. Mild capillary changes were found in 16 (34%), moderate in 21 (44.7%), and severe in 8 (17%) SLE patients. All patients with systemic organ involvement showed severe or moderate changes in nailfold capillaroscopy. In comparison with the control group, a higher serum concentration of VEGF in SLE patients was demonstrated (p<0.05). Furthermore, significant differences in VEGF serum concentration between SLE patients with systemic involvement and controls were found (p<0.01). Comparison between patients with active and inactive SLE according to SLEDAI score showed a significantly higher concentration of VEGF in the sera of patients with active SLE (p<0.01). The SLE patients with severe and moderate changes in nailfold capillaroscopy showed significantly higher VEGF serum levels than SLE patients with mild changes (p<0.05) or healthy controls (p<0.01). Moreover, the VEGF serum level correlated significantly with ESR (r=0.580, p<0.0001) and CRP (r=0.512, p<0.005). Conclusions: Our data suggest that VEGF serum level may be a useful marker of disease activity and internal organ involvement in SLE patients. Abnormalities in nailfold capillaroscopy may reflect the extent of microvascular involvement and are associated with systemic manifestation in SLE. Abbreviations: SLE ? systemic lupus erythematosus, VEGF ? vascular endothelial growth factor, SSc ? systemic sclerosis, RA ? rheumatoid arthritis, CTD ? connective tissue disease, SLEDAI ? Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index, HRCT ? high-resolution computed tomography, ESR ? erythrocyte sedimentation rate, CRP ? C-reactive protein.
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Anna Kuryliszyn-Moskal, Department of Rheumatology and Internal Diseases, Medical University of Bialystok, M. Curie-Sklodowskiej 24a, 15-276 Bialystok, Poland