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Increased Epicardial Fat Linked to Endothelial Dysfunction

Clin Rheumatol 2022 Jul 1. Increased epicardial adipose tissue thickness correlates with endothelial dysfunction in spondyloarthritis Aicha Ben Tekaya 1 2, Takwa Mehmli 3 4, Imtinene Ben Mrad 2 5, Ahmed Fendri 2 6, Seif Boukriba 2 6, Selma Bouden 1 2, Leila Rouached 1 2, Rawdha Tekaya 1 2, Olfa Saidane 1 2, Ines Mahmoud 1 2, Leila Abdelmoula 1 2

Abstract Introduction: We aimed to investigate the relationship between epicardial adipose tissue (EAT) thickness, flow-mediated dilation (FMD), and carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT) in spondyloarthritis (SpA) patients compared to healthy controls. Methods: We performed a cross-sectional study including SpA patients aged ≤ 50 years without traditional cardiovascular risk factors and healthy controls matched for age and gender. Baseline characteristics, laboratory data, and SpA-related parameters were recorded. All participants underwent ultrasound examination with measurement of EAT thickness, FMD, and cIMT by both an experienced cardiologist and radiologist blinded to clinical data. The relationships between the ultrasound measurements were analyzed using Spearman’s correlation coefficient and Person correlation. Results: The study included 94 subjects (47 SpA and 47 healthy controls). The sex-ratio was 2.35; the median age of patients was 36 years (IQR: 28-46), and the median disease duration was 11 years (IQR: 5-16). Compared to the control group, SpA patients had significantly higher values of EAT thickness (p = 0.001) and cIMT (p < 0.0001). FMD values were significantly lower in SpA patients compared to controls (p = 0.008). The univariate analysis detected a significant negative association between EAT thickness and FMD (p = 0.026; r = - 0.325), and between left cIMT and FMD (p = 0.027; r = - 0.322). No association was found between EAT thickness and cIMT. Conclusion: EAT thickness, FMD, and cIMT were significantly impaired in SpA patients compared with healthy controls supporting evidence of accelerated atherosclerosis in SpA. EAT thickness was correlated to endothelial dysfunction suggesting the role of EAT in predicting the early reversible stages of atherosclerosis. Key Points • Spondyloarthritis is associated with impaired subclinical atherosclerosis markers accurately increased epicardial fat and carotid intima-media thickness and endothelial dysfunction. • Increased epicardial fat thickness is correlated with impaired endothelial function in spondyloarthritis patients. Keywords: Atherosclerosis; Carotid intima-media thickness; Epicardial adipose tissue; Flow-mediated dilation; Spondyloarthritis.


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