Serum VEGF levels are related to the presence of pulmonary arterial hypertension in systemic sclerosis
AuthorPapaioannou, A. I.; Zakynthinos, E.; Kostikas, K.; Kiropoulos, T.; Koutsokera, A.; Ziogas, A.; Koutroumpas, A.; Sakkas, L.; Gourgoulianis, K. I.; Daniil, Z. D.
Background: The association between systemic sclerosis and pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is well recognized. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has been reported to play an important role in pulmonary hypertension. The aim of the present study was to examine the relationship between systolic pulmonary artery pressure, clinical and functional manifestations of the disease and serum VEGF levels in systemic sclerosis. Methods: Serum VEGF levels were measured in 40 patients with systemic sclerosis and 13 control subjects. All patients underwent clinical examination, pulmonary function tests and echocardiography. Results: Serum VEGF levels were higher in systemic sclerosis patients with sPAP ≥ 35 mmHg than in those with sPAP < 35 mmHg (352 (266, 462 pg/ml)) vs (240 (201, 275 pg/ml)) (p < 0.01), while they did not differ between systemic sclerosis patients with sPAP < 35 mmHg and controls. Serum VEGF levels correlated to systolic pulmonary artery pressure, to diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide and to MRC dyspnea score. In multiple linear regression analysis, serum VEGF levels, MRC dyspnea score, and DLCO were independent predictors of systolic pulmonary artery pressure. Conclusion: Serum VEGF levels are increased in systemic sclerosis patients with sPAP ≥ 35 mmHg. The correlation between VEGF levels and systolic pulmonary artery pressure may suggest a possible role of VEGF in the pathogenesis of PAH in systemic sclerosis. © 2009 Papaioannou et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.