Leading the way to a cure


Novel Targets for Identification and Treatment of Atherosclerosis in SLE

Hahn, Bevra, MD

University of California, Los Angeles

Atherosclerosis is a major cause of illness and death in people with lupus. However, traditional risk factors such as smoking, family history, obesity and diabetes do not necessarily identify those individuals with lupus who will develop atherosclerosis. Thus, clinicians need other markers to determine who is at risk of the disease so they can initiate treatment to prevent long-term damage. 

One such marker may be pro-inflammatory HDL (piHDL). With two years of previous ALR funding, Dr. Hahn and her team have shown that people with lupus and piHDL are 9.5 times more likely to have plaque in the carotid artery (an artery in the neck that is a marker for atherosclerosis) than those who do not have piHDL.

With this current grant, the researchers will investigate whether piHDL causes acceleration of atherosclerosis and whether it might provide a way to predict the future development of atherosclerosis over time; try to identify a molecular mechanism for piHDL-induced atherosclerosis by identifying changes in gene expression that distinguish lupus patients with piHDL and plaque from those without; test the hypothesis that current treatments for people with lupus can reduce piHDL scores, improve the protective capacity of HDL and reduce the risk of atherosclerosis; and explore whether novel or current therapies can alter piHDL levels, plaque burden and lupus disease activity in a mouse model of lupus and atherosclerosis. 

What this study means for patients with lupus: Information learned from these studies can be used to not only identify people with lupus who are at risk for atherosclerosis, but to develop therapeutic strategies to reduce that risk.

1.5 million

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