Objective: To determine the relationship between serum vitamin D and markers of subclinical cardiovascular disease (CVD) in patients with SLE.
Methods: We recruited SLE patients (≥ 4 ACR 1997 criteria) from outpatient clinics between January 2007 and January 2009. Vitamin D deficiency was defined as serum 25(OH)D <20 ng/ml measured by ELISA. Disease activity was measured using the SLEDAI-2K score. Aortic pulse wave velocity (aPWV) was measured using PulseTrace 3600 (Micromedical) and carotid plaque (CP) and intima-media thickness (IMT) assessed using B-mode Doppler US.
Results: Seventy-five women with SLE were recruited with a median (interquartile range) disease duration of 16 (8-27) years. Patients with vitamin D deficiency had higher BMI (P = 0.014) and insulin resistance (P = 0.023) than those with 25(OH)D >20 ng/ml. Subjects with SLEDAI-2K ≥ 4 had lower 25(OH)D than those with SLEDAI-2K <4 (median 12.9 vs 20.3 ng/ml, P = 0.031). Aortic stiffness was significantly associated with serum 25(OH)D [log(aPWV) β (95% CI) -0.0217 (-0.038, -0.005), P = 0.010] independently of BMI, CVD risk factors and serum insulin. Adjustment for disease activity reduced the strength of the association. There was no association between 25(OH)D and CP or IMT.
Conclusions: Vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased aortic stiffness in SLE, independent of CVD risk factors and insulin. Increased inflammatory disease activity may be the mechanism by which vitamin D deficiency mediates vascular stiffness in this patient group.