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Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease that carries increased risk of cardiovascular disease; however, the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms remain poorly understood. We aimed to investigate the prevalence and degree of myocardial fibrosis in SLE patients and associated disease characteristics. Forty-nine SLE patients (89% female, mean age 52 ± 13 years, median disease duration 19 (11-25) years) and 79 sex-and age-matched healthy controls were included. CMR with T1 mapping was performed on SLE patients and healthy controls. Fifty-one SLE patients received gadolinium contrast for the evaluation of late gadolinium enhancement (LGE) and extra cellular volume (ECV). Multiple linear regression analyses were performed to investigate the association between markers of myocardial fibrosis on CMR (LGE, T1, ECV) and SLE-related variables [clinical disease activity, lupus nephritis, chronic kidney disease, anti-cardiolipin and/or anti-beta-2 glycoprotein I antibodies, and lupus anticoagulant (LAC)] with adjustment for traditional risk factors. T1 values were elevated in SLE patients compared to healthy controls (1031 ± 36 ms vs. 1019 ± 25 ms, p = 0.01). LGE was present in 20% of SLE patients who received gadolinium contrast. On multivariable analysis, LAC was associated with LGE in SLE patients (β = 3.87, p = 0.02). Neither T1 nor ECV associated with SLE disease characteristics; however, there was a trend towards an association between LAC and T1 (β = 16.9, p = 0.08). SLE patients displayed signs of myocardial fibrosis on CMR that were associated with the presence of LAC. These findings support the pathophysiological understanding of LAC as a mediator of microvascular and subsequent myocardial dysfunction.

Original publication




Journal article


Int J Cardiovasc Imaging

Publication Date



Cardiac magnetic resonance, Lupus anticoagulant, Myocardial fibrosis, Pathophysiology, Systemic lupus erythematosus, T1 mapping