Antibodies against oxidized low-density lipoprotein are associated with subclinical atherosclerosis in recent-onset rheumatoid arthritis

Clin Rheumatol. 2010 Nov;29(11):1237-43. doi: 10.1007/s10067-010-1436-0. Epub 2010 Mar 31.


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients have increased mortality largely as a result of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) that cannot be explained by traditional risk factors, suggesting that systemic inflammation may accelerate atherosclerosis. We investigated the presence of subclinical atherosclerosis in early RA (<12 months) and the possible association of RA-related risk factors. Forty patients with early RA and 40 controls matched for age, sex, and traditional risk factors for CVD were selected. Carotid US examination, assay of lipogram, C-reactive protein (CRP), and oxidized low-density lipoprotein antibodies (OxLDL-ab) were done. RA patients had significantly higher carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT) values and more plaque than the control (P<0.001 and P=0.0122, respectively). CRP and OxLDL-ab were significantly higher in RA patients than controls. Traditional risk factors and RA-related risk factors (disease duration, DAS-28, duration of treatment with steroids, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and CRP) as well as OxLDL and cIMT were significantly higher in RA with plaques compared to those without plaques. Regression analysis identified the age of patients, CRP, and OxLDL-ab as an independent risk factor associated with the presence of atherosclerosis.

Conclusion: there is increased prevalence of carotid plaques in patients with recent-onset RA compared to matched controls. The accelerated atherosclerosis is predicted by age, CRP, and oxLDL-ab. The association of plaques with elevated CRP and OxLDL-ab support the hypothesis that chronic systemic autoimmune inflammatory process is probably a driving force for premature atherosclerosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies / immunology*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology*
  • Atherosclerosis / complications
  • Atherosclerosis / immunology*
  • Blood Sedimentation
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Carotid Arteries / pathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Tunica Intima / pathology
  • Tunica Media / pathology


  • Antibodies
  • Lipoproteins, LDL
  • oxidized low density lipoprotein
  • C-Reactive Protein