Patients with SLE have increased cardiovascular mortality. Alterations in both macro- and micro-circulation have been associated with cardiovascular disease. We sought to assess skin microvascular function by using laser speckle contrast analysis (LASCA) in patients with SLE, with and without cardiovascular disease and risk factors.
Continuous blood flow was recorded using a LASCA device during baseline, a 5-min arterial occlusion and a 5-min reperfusion period.
Thirty-five patients with SLE (85.7% women) with a median disease duration 12.0 (6.5–17.5) years and a mean age of 46.3 (8.6) years and 31 controls matched for age, sex and BMI were enrolled. During reperfusion, SLE patients exhibited a smaller peak magnitude compared with controls (161.0 (47.1) vs 197.2 (41.4)%, respectively, P =0.002). Results remained unchanged among 24 SLE patients without cardiovascular disease compared with the control group (169.2 (48.1) vs 195.6 (34.0)%, respectively, P =0.002).
Our study shows, for the first time, that patients with SLE, even without overt cardiovascular disease or risk factors, exhibit a blunted microvascular reactivity during reperfusion compared with controls. These results show that skin microvascular dysfunction is present in SLE independently of the CV burden that these patients bear and may represent an early sign of vascular damage.