Patients with cutaneous lupus at increased risk of stroke and heart attack

Study shows significantly increased risk of cardiovascular disease for patients with cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE), a rare autoimmune skin disease.


Patients with cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE), a rare autoimmune skin disease, have a significantly increased risk of cardiovascular disease. This was shown in a study conducted by the Department of Dermatology, Allergology and Venereology, the Institute of Inflammation Medicine and the Lübeck Institute of Experimental Dermatology (LIED) of the University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH), Lübeck Campus, and the University of Lübeck. The research team led by Prof. Dr. Ralf Ludwig, director of LIED and board member of the Cluster of Excellence Precision Medicine in Chronic Inflammation (PMI), and PD Dr. Dr. Katharina Boch, senior physician at the Department of Dermatology, used the global medical database TriNetX for the work. Also involved in the study was Bar Ilan University in Israel.

The team took a particular focus on risks to the heart and blood vessels after a CLE diagnosis. In total, data from 30,315 patients with different manifestations of the autoimmune disease were examined. The analysis showed that they had a higher incidence of serious diseases such as blood clots in the lungs (pulmonary embolism), stroke and heart attack than the average population.

"Because this is a retrospective data analysis, there is no causal relationship. The increased risk of cardiovascular disease we found in cutaneous lupus should nevertheless be taken into account in treatment; especially through regular screening and the best possible management of modifiable risk factors such as diabetes and hypertension," Prof. Ludwig said.

Cutaneous lupus is usually noticeable as round red plaques on the skin. About 40,000 people in Germany are affected by the disease, for which there is still no causal therapy that could eliminate the causes. Autoimmune diseases of the skin can lead to further diseases, especially of the cardiovascular system and metabolism, due to the ongoing inflammatory reaction. However, meaningful studies with a sufficiently large number of subjects were lacking.

About TriNetX

TriNetX brings together clinics, healthcare organizations and pharmaceutical companies worldwide to initiate collaborations for clinical trials. The participating clinics provide pseudonymized, patient-related data for evaluations. These evaluations, which do not allow conclusions to be drawn about individual patients, can be viewed by healthcare organizations and pharmaceutical companies via an online portal. The network's database provides researchers and scientifically working physicians in the participating clinics with extensive analysis and comparison options for their own investigations and publications.Currently, it allows access to anonymized data from over 120 million patients worldwide. Especially for rare diseases, insights can be gained from these data that significantly improve patient care.

Scientific Contact:

Prof. Dr. Ralf Ludwig,
Department of Dermatology, Allergology, and Venereology and Lübeck Institute for Experimental Dermatology, University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein, Campus Lübeck
+49 451 500-41686

About TriNetX:
Friederike Uebing
+49 431 500-10118

Responsible person for this press information:

Oliver Grieve
press spokesperson University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH)
+49 173/4055 000


portrait photo
© S. Klahn, Cluster of Excellence PMI

Prof. Ralf Ludwig, Director of the Lübeck Institute for Experimental Dermatology (LIED) at the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH), Campus Lübeck, and the University of Lübeck, and member of the Steering Committee of The Cluster of Excellence "Precision Medicine in Chronic Inflammation" (PMI).


Henning Olbrich, Khalaf Kridin, Henner Zirpel, Christian D. Sadik, Patrick Terheyden, Diamant Thaçi, Ralf J. Ludwig, Katharina Boch. Cutaneous lupus erythematosus is associated with an increased risk of cardiac and vascular diseases: a large-scale, propensity-matched global retrospective cohort study. eBioMedicine (2023) 93:104639


About the Cluster of Excellence PMI

The Cluster of Excellence "Precision Medicine in Chronic Inflammation" (PMI) is being funded from 2019 to 2025 through the German Excellence Strategy (ExStra). It succeeds the "Inflammation at Interfaces” Cluster, which was already funded in two periods of the Excellence Initiative (2007-2018). Around 300 members from eight institutions at four locations are involved: Kiel (Kiel University, University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH), Muthesius University of Fine Arts and Design, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN)), Lübeck (University of Lübeck, University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH)), Plön (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology) and Borstel (Research Center Borstel - Leibniz Lung Center).

The goal is to translate interdisciplinary research findings on chronic inflammatory diseases of barrier organs to healthcare more intensively, as well as to fulfil previously unsatisfied needs of the patients. Three points are important in the context of successful treatment, and are therefore at the heart of PMI research: the early detection of chronic inflammatory diseases, the prediction of disease progression and complications, and the prediction of individual responses to treatment.

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