Inflammation and arterial stiffness in systemic vasculitis: a model of vascular inflammation

Arthritis Rheum. 2004 Feb;50(2):581-8. doi: 10.1002/art.20002.


Objective: Arterial stiffness, an independent determinant of cardiovascular risk, is regulated by both structural and functional factors, including endothelium-derived nitric oxide. Endothelial dysfunction is associated with acute and chronic systemic inflammation. However, the role of systemic inflammation in arterial stiffening has not been determined. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between inflammation and arterial stiffness in patients with antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated systemic vasculitis (AASV) as a model of systemic inflammation.

Methods: Thirty-one patients with AASV (15 with active disease) and 32 age-matched controls were studied. Pulse wave velocity (PWV) and the augmentation index (AIx) were assessed noninvasively and related to serum levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor alpha.

Results: In subjects with active disease, the AIx, PWV, and level of CRP were elevated compared with that in controls (mean +/- SEM 31 +/- 3% versus 22 +/- 2% [P = 0.003], 9.2 +/- 0.7 versus 7.5 +/- 0.3 meters/second [P = 0.03], and 16.0 +/- 4.0 versus 1.1 +/- 0.1 mg/liter [P < 0.001], respectively). However, PWV and the AIx were not significantly different between patients with disease in remission and controls (8.0 +/- 0.5 versus 7.5 +/- 0.3 meters/second and 19 +/- 3% versus 22 +/- 2%, respectively). The CRP level was positively correlated with both PWV and the AIx. Multiple regression analysis indicated that age, mean arterial pressure (MAP), and CRP were independently related to PWV, and that age, MAP, CRP, sex, and heart rate were associated with the AIx.

Conclusion: These data indicate that AASV is associated with increased arterial stiffness, and that stiffness correlates with the degree of active inflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibodies, Antineutrophil Cytoplasmic / immunology
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Elasticity
  • Female
  • Hemodynamics / physiology
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulsatile Flow / physiology
  • Radial Artery / physiopathology*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism
  • Vasculitis / blood
  • Vasculitis / immunology
  • Vasculitis / physiopathology*


  • Antibodies, Antineutrophil Cytoplasmic
  • Interleukin-6
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • C-Reactive Protein