The menacing HDL form is pro-inflammatory HDL (piHDL), according to research by Bevra H. Hahn, MD, Maureen McMahon, MD, and colleagues at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and it can easily be measured and, most importantly, treated.

"Traditional risk factors for atherosclerosis have proved ineffective for predicting atherosclerosis in SLE patients," said Dr. Hahn. "Uncovering a potentially important role for pro-inflammatory HDL in the development of atherosclerotic disease in patients with SLE is an important first step toward developing strategies to prevent cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in these patients."

Dr. Hahn notes that "pro-inflammatory HDL, which is easily measured, may provide just the biomarker to determine which patients are at increased risk. If this research is successful, in two years or sooner a test may be available to screen for piHD.

According to Dr. Hahn, women with lupus are about 7 to 10 times more likely than women without the disease to suffer a heart attack or stroke

In the study, Dr. Hahn measured the presence of pro-inflammatory and HDL in samples of blood plasma from 154 women with SLE, 73 age matched controls, and 50 women with rheumatoid arthritis. Compared to the control group, the HDL from those with SLE contained significantly more piHDL. "We found that almost 50 percent of SLE patients, versus approximately 4 percent of controls and 20 percent of rheumatoid arthritis patients, had piHDL," said Dr. Hahn.

In addition, piHDL was found in 8 of the 10 individuals with SLE determined to have actual atherosclerosis. The biomarker was similarly high in half of the 12 subjects with SLE that had suffered a stroke.

MEDICA.de; Source: Lupus Research Institute