Leading the way to a cure


Accelerated Atherosclerosis in SLE: The type I interferon link

Segal, Mark S., MD, PhD

University of Florida

People with lupus have a significantly increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease 10 to 30 years after diagnosis. In preliminary studies, Dr. Segal and his colleagues identified a potential pathway that links elevated levels of type I interferon (IFN) with increased cardiovascular risk in lupus patients. This pathway involves endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) that originate from the bone marrow. These cells develop into endothelial cells, which line blood vessels and are involved in such processes as endothelial vessel repair, which limits the development of atherosclerosis

Dr. Segal’s group found that lupus patients with elevated  type-I IFN levels have lower EPC numbers and poorer  endothelial health than those without, and that IFN-alpha,  a type-I IFN, leads to EPC death.

With this grant, the researchers will conduct animal studies to test the hypothesis that elevated type-I IFN levels in patients with lupus lead to a reduction in EPC numbers and accelerates atherosclerosis in animal models.

What this study means to people with lupus: If this study shows a clear connection between IFN levels and cardiovascular health, it could pave the way for new treatments to reduce the death rate from cardiovascular disease in people with lupus.

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