February 7, 2003
Lupus Link to Other Diseases Studied
CHICAGO— A link between lupus, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease in young women may be key to understanding why postmenopausal women who do not have lupus are at increased risk for the bone mineral loss and heart disease. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects predominantly young, premenopausal women.
According to Rosalind Ramsey-Goldman, MD, the Feinberg School of Medicine researcher who established this link, vast improvements in the treatment of lupus during the past 20 years have enabled scientists to now focus on the complications of the disease that may lead to progressive illness and death.
Dr. Ramsey-Goldman is professor of medicine and director of the lupus program at the medical school.
“Increased numbers of young women with lupus are experiencing bone fractures, stroke, and heart attack, complications typically associated with aging in non-lupus populations of women,” Dr. Ramsey-Goldman said.
This raises questions concerning potential mechanisms linking vascular diseases and osteoporosis, clinical problems that have been previously attributed, in part, to aging in postmenopausal women without lupus. Moreover, corticosteroids, commonly used in the treatment of lupus, likely contribute to these conditions, she said.
Dr. Ramsey-Goldman and collaborators at the University of Pittsburgh believe that factors related to the inflammatory and immune-mediated nature of lupus or its treatment may play a role in the premature cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis experienced by individuals with lupus.
The researchers are conducting a five-year epidemiologic study to assess the prevalence of bone fracture, stroke, and heart attack, as well as clinical markers for these outcomes, including bone mineral density, carotid plaques, vascular thickness, and coronary artery calcification. The name of the project is SOLVABLE, for study of lupus vascular and bone long-term endpoints.
In addition, because the risk for lupus and severity of disease is increased in African American women, the study will examine potential racial/ethnic differences in the frequency of osteoporosis and atherosclerosis in African American women compared with white women with lupus.
To qualify for the study, participants must be African American or white women older than 18, not pregnant and have a diagnosis of lupus. For information on this study, call 312/503-7211, send an e-mail to email@example.com, or visit the SOLVABLE Web site .
This study is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Lupus Foundation.