Red blood cell-derived phosphatidylserine positive extracellular vesicles are associated with past thrombotic events in patients with systemic erythematous lupus

Lupus Sci Med. 2022 Mar;9(1):e000605. doi: 10.1136/lupus-2021-000605.


Background: Extracellular vesicles (EVs) released by blood cells have proinflammation and procoagulant action. Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) present high vascular inflammation and are prone to develop cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, we postulated that the EV populations found in blood, including platelet EVs (PEVs) and red blood cell EVs (REVs), are associated with SLE disease activity and SLE-associated cardiovascular accidents.

Method: We assessed autotaxin (ATX) plasma levels by ELISA, the platelet activation markers PAC1 and CD62P, ATX bound to platelets and the amounts of plasma PEVs and REVs by flow cytometry in a cohort of 102 patients with SLE, including 29 incident cases of SLE and 30 controls. Correlation analyses explored the associations with the clinical parameters.

Result: Platelet activation markers were increased in patients with SLE compared with healthy control, with the marker CD62P associated with the SLE disease activity index (SLEDAI). The incident cases show additional associations between platelet markers (CD62P/ATX and PAC1/CD62P) and the SLEDAI. Compared with controls, patients with SLE presented higher levels of PEVs, phosphatidylserine positive (PS+) PEVs, REVs and PS+ REVs, but there is no association with disease activity. When stratified according to the plasma level of PS+ REVs, the group of patients with SLE with a high level of PS+ REVs presented a higher number of past thrombosis events and higher ATX levels.

Conclusion: Incident and prevalent forms of SLE cases present similar levels of platelet activation markers, with CD62P correlating with disease activity. Though EVs are not associated with disease activity, the incidence of past thrombotic events is higher in patients with a high level of PS+ REVs.

Keywords: autoimmunity; lipids; lupus erythematosus, systemic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Erythrocytes
  • Extracellular Vesicles* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic* / complications
  • Phosphatidylserines / metabolism
  • Thrombosis* / etiology


  • Biomarkers
  • Phosphatidylserines