The effects of acute muscle damage and autoimmune disease on vascular function : the potential role of inflammation
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Inflammation has been implicated in the development of cardiovascular disease and a potential underlying mechanism in the pathogenesis of impaired vascular function. Two different but complementary approaches were utilized to determine the role of inflammation on vascular function. First, to evaluate the effect of acute inflammation, we induced muscle damage to both small and large muscle mass and measured vascular function every 24 hours for up to 5 days of recovery. Eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage, in both small and large muscle mass, resulted in a transient increase in central arterial stiffness. Next, patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) were studied as a model of chronic inflammation. Measurements of vascular function were compared in habitually-exercising and sedentary SLE patients, and age-matched healthy controls. Individuals with SLE demonstrated lower vascular function than healthy controls. When SLE patients were grouped by exercise status, habitually-exercising SLE patients exhibited similar vascular function to healthy controls, and lower overall disease activity compared with sedentary SLE patients, supporting the beneficial effect of regular exercise in this population. Inflammatory biomarkers were associated with measures of macro- and microvascular function. In conclusion, acute muscle damage and chronic disease-related inflammation have a potent effect on measures of vascular function, suggesting that inflammation plays a role in the pathogenesis of vascular dysfunction and is an important biomarker for cardiovascular risk.