Metabolic Changes In Patients With Lupus Linked To Vitamin D
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The findings of a new study reveal that patients with lupus are more likely to have metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance, which are both factors linked to heart disease if they have lower vitamin D levels. An international research team, studied vitamin D levels in 1,163 SLE patients across 33 centres in 11 countries publishing its findings in Rheumatology.

Researchers believe that boosting vitamin D levels may improve control of these cardiovascular risk factors, as well as improving long-term outcomes for patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Given that photosensitivity is a key feature of SLE, scientists say that a combination of avoiding the sun, using high-factor sunblock, and living in more northerly countries may contribute to lower levels of vitamin D in lupus patients.

Patients with more severe diseases also had lower vitamin D levels. Report co-author, commented: "Our results suggest that co-existing physiological abnormalities may contribute to long-term cardiovascular risk early on in SLE. "We found a link between lower levels of vitamin D and metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance."

The researchers note that patients with SLE have an excess cardiovascular risk, up to 50 times that seen in people without the condition - this cannot be attributed to traditional cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure or smoking, alone. The mechanisms underlying the association between high blood pressure and low vitamin D in SLE are not clear.

But researchers believe they may be linked to the impact of vitamin D deficiency on the renin-angiotensin hormone system, which regulates blood pressure, fluid, and electrolyte balance, as well as systemic vascular resistance. This is the largest-ever study examining associations between vitamin D levels and metabolic syndrome in SLE.