Objective: To identify shared and differential molecular pathways involved in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis (AT) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), primary antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) and APS associated with SLE (APS plus SLE).
Methods: 129 patients (42 APS, 31 APS plus SLE and 56 SLE) and 61 healthy donors were included. Microarray expression profiling was performed in monocytes. RT-PCR of selected genes and western blot were used to validate microarray data. Clinical and inflammatory parameters were also analysed.
Results: Compared with controls, 555, 1224 and 518 genes were differentially expressed in monocytes from SLE, APS plus SLE and APS patients, respectively. Approximately 25-30% of differentially expressed genes were related to AT and CVD. Each disease displayed a specific AT/CVD/Inflammation-related gene signature. Compared with SLE, APS showed alterations in mitochondria biogenesis and function and oxidative stress. Besides the interferon signature, found in APS plus SLE and SLE patients, various genes mediating atherosclerotic/inflammatory signalling were also differentially expressed in APS plus SLE. IgG-anticardiolipin (aCL) titres independently predicted both atherosclerotic and thrombosis in APS plus SLE. Moreover, a significant correlation of IgG-aCL titres with mRNA levels of certain inflammatory molecules in monocytes was further noticed. In vitro treatment of monocytes with IgG-aCL promoted an increase in the expression of the genes most significantly changed in APS plus SLE versus healthy donors.
Conclusions: Gene expression profiling allows the segregation of APS, APS plus SLE and SLE, with specific signatures explaining the pro-atherosclerotic and pro-thrombotic alterations in these highly related autoimmune diseases.
Keywords: Systemic lupus erythematosus; atherosclerosis; cardiovascular disease; gene profile.
Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to http://group.bmj.com/group/rights-licensing/permissions.