According to the Lupus Foundation, approximately 1.5 million citizens in the United States live with the autoimmune disorder known as Lupus. A study performed by French researchers indicates that people afflicted with systemic lupus erythematosus are also more likely to develop atherosclerosis compared to people who do not have the disorder. The study was published in the “Joint Bone Spine” journal.

Lupus Complications

Lupus is often fatal in younger patients secondary to the complications that develop as the disease progresses. However, when older adults have the disease, they are more likely to die from cardiovascular complications. The researchers suspected that the problem in older patients involved the development of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis involves plaque buildup in arteries. The gradual accumulation causes the blood vessel interiors to become narrower, which interferes with blood circulation.

French Study

The scientific team evaluated the data from dozens of studies involving 5,248 lupus patients and 3,997 healthy participants. The researchers compared the test results of all the study volunteers, which included the carotid intima-media thicknesses or CIMT, the presence of plaques and flow-mediated dilatation or FMD. The researchers learned that the risk of developing plaques in the carotid arteries doubled for lupus patients. They also had significant thickening in their carotid arteries. The findings demonstrated a greater need of reducing cardiovascular disease risk factors and earlier testing for the possible development of atherosclerosis in older lupus patients.

Hope for All Lupus Patients

A team of scientists from the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center may have answers for older lupus patients. Through laboratory testing, the group believes they discovered a way to reduce cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis in addition to minimizing symptoms of the disease.

For three months, the scientists fed mice high-cholesterol, high-fat diets to induce the development of atherosclerosis. The mice were then divided into two groups. One group received injections of a medication known as Trichostatin A or TSA from the start of the study. The drug is typically used as an antifungal, antimicrobial agent. The other group did not receive the treatment.

The animals treated with TSA had fewer plaque buildups in their arteries compared to the other group. The plaques that did exist in the treated mice also contained lower levels of cholesterol. As Trichostatin A prevents specific genes from creating the proteins necessary for atherosclerosis and lupus, the group believes the treatment may benefit patients of all ages.