Aspects on wall properties of the brachial artery in man : with special reference to SLE and insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus

Abstract: The mechanical properties of the arterial wall are of great importance for blood pressure regulation and cardiac load. With increasing age, large arteries are affected by increased wall stiffness. Furthermore, atherosclerotic manifestations may increase the stiffness even further, both processes acting as independent cardiovascular risk factors affecting the arterial system in a heterogeneous way.The aims of this thesis was to characterize the local mechanical properties of brachial artery (BA) with the aid of ultrasound technique and to evaluate the influence of 1) age, gender, sympathetic stimulation and examination site; 2) type 1 diabetes (DM) and its association to circulatory biomarkers; and 3) to evaluate the general properties of the arterial system with the aid of pulse wave velocity (PWV) as well as pulse wave analysis (PWA) in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and correlate the findings to disease activity and circulatory biomarkers.In the most proximal arterial segment of the upper arm a pronounced age-related decrease in wall distensibility, increase in intima-media thickness (IMT), and a slight increase in diameter were seen. Sympathetic stimulation had no influence on wall mechanics. More distally in BA, no change in diameter, and only minor increase in IMT and decrease in distensibility were seen. No gender differences were found. These findings suggest that the principle transit zone between elastic and muscular artery behaviour is located in the proximal part of the upper arm.Women with uncomplicated insulin-dependent DM had similar diameter, IMT and distensibility in their distal BA as controls, whereas flow-mediated dilatation (FMD) was slightly, and nitrate mediated dilatation (NMD) markedly reduced. NMD was negatively correlated with higher HbA1c levels. Vascular smooth muscle cell function seems to be an early manifestation of vascular disease in women with DM, influenced by long-term hyperglycaemia.Women with SLE had increased aortic PWV compared to controls, a finding positively associated with increased levels of complement factor 3 (C3), but not with disease activity. The increased stiffness of central arteries may be one factor contributing to the increased cardiovascular risk seen in SLE.