Background: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease with increased risk of cardiac dysfunction. The pathophysiological mechanisms are poorly understood, and prognostic markers are warranted. Purpose: We aimed to identify SLE-characteristics associated with measures of cardiac size and function during a five-year follow-up. Methods: We included 108 patients with SLE: 90% females, mean age 46 ± 13 years, median disease duration 14 (range 7–21) years. We performed blood sampling for potential biomarkers as well as a standard echocardiography at baseline and at a 5-year follow-up. To investigate associations with baseline and prospective 5-year changes in echocardiographic parameters, we performed multivariate regression analyses of SLE-related baseline variables (clinical disease activity, lupus nephritis, chronic kidney disease, anti-cardiolipin and/or anti-beta-2 glycoprotein I antibodies, and lupus anticoagulant (LAC)) and adjusted for traditional risk factors. Results: During follow-up, diastolic function regressed in two out of five echocardiographic measures (E/A ratio 1.4 ± 0.5 vs. 1.3 ± 0.5, p = 0.002; tricuspid regurgitation peak velocity 2.0 ± 0.6 vs. 2.2 ± 0.4 mmHg, p < 0.001). Left ventricular (LV) end-diastolic volume index increased (43.7 ± 13.9 vs. 52.5 ± 15.7 mL/m2, p < 0.001). Left and right ventricular systolic function remained stationary. LAC was associated with inferior diastolic function: lower E/A ratio (p = 0.04) and higher E/e’ ratio at baseline (p = 0.04) and increased left ventricular atrial volume index during follow-up (p = 0.01). LAC was further associated with LV dilatation during follow-up (p = 0.01). Conclusion: Presence of LAC was associated with measures of diastolic function as well as progressive LV dilatation during the 5-year follow-up. Thus, LAC might be a predictor of cardiac dysfunction in SLE patients. LAC is known to have implications for the microvascular circulation, but the clinical significance of the present findings is yet to be elucidated.
Journal of Autoimmunity