For African Americans with Lupus, ‘Lact-Cer’ May Help Predict Heart Disease Beyond Conventional Risk Factors
A new study finds lacticyclecermide (Lact-Cer), a type of fat found in cell membranes and circulating in the blood, may help predict or diagnose heart disease in African Americans with lupus. People with lupus have a much higher risk of developing heart disease compared to the general public, and the African American community is at an increased risk as well. Yet, African Americans also tend to have lower blood levels of triglycerides and higher levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol – traditionally signs of low heart health risk. More effective screening and diagnostic tools for this population are clearly needed.
The study included 51 African American people with lupus; study participants were also predominantly female. Researchers found that low levels of Lact-Cer were associated with higher amounts of artery-clogging plaque, a sign of heart disease. Thus, including Lact-Cer may offer an added benefit to the conventional blood lipid panel, a common blood test that traditionally only measures triglycerides and cholesterol as indicators of heart disease risk.
Additionally, high levels of Lact-Cer were associated lower levels of complement protein C3. Low C3 is linked to flares and organ damage in lupus, and the researchers note Lact-Cer may therefore offer another marker of lupus disease activity too.
Lupus is two to three times more prevalent in women of color, and research has found that Black women are more likely to have organ system involvement and more active disease compared to white women with lupus. Developing more effective health screening and diagnostic tools as well as treatments for the African American lupus community is vitally important.
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