Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Rheumatology, Tampere University Hospital, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Department of Clinical Physiology, Tampere University Hospital, University of Tampere, Medical School, Tampere, Department of Medicine, Turku University Hospital, University of Turku, Turku, Department of Clinical Physiology and Nuclear Medicine, Kuopio University Hospital, University of Kuopio, Kuopio, Department of Pediatrics, Vaasa Central Hospital, Vaasa, Department of Pediatrics, University of Oulu, Oulu, The Centre for Laboratory Medicine, Tampere University Hospital, Department of Clinical Chemistry, University of Tampere, Medical School, Tampere and Department of Clinical Physiology, Turku University Hospital, University of Turku, Turku, Finland.
Objective. There is ample evidence demonstrating that accelerated atherosclerosis prevails in autoimmune rheumatic diseases, particularly in SLE, and that the risk is due not only to traditional cardiovascular risk factors but also to the disease itself. ANAs are a hallmark of SLE and are known even to antedate the development of SLE. Our aim was to investigate whether positive ANAs in young adults are associated with risk factors for atherosclerosis or subclinical markers of atherosclerosis. Methods. ANAs were examined by IIF using HEp-2 cells as substrate in 2278 participants in the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study for whom detailed data on cardiovascular risk factors and markers of subclinical atherosclerosis (including brachial flow-mediated dilatation, carotid compliance and carotid intima-media thickness) were available. Results. In multivariate analyses, adjusted for age, BMI, serum concentrations of CRP, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, blood pressure and smoking habits, ANA positivity (titre > 160) was inversely associated (beta = -0.145; P = 0.034) with carotid compliance in women. Conclusions. Our results indicate that ANA positivity is associated with decreased carotid elasticity in women, suggesting that mechanisms resulting in ANA production may be involved in the development of early atherosclerosis.