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Antihypertensive effects of immunosuppressive therapy in autoimmune disease



Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic multisystem autoimmune disorder that primarily affects women of childbearing age. While immune system dysfunction has been implicated in the development of hypertension (HTN) in SLE, the effect of immunomodulatory drugs on blood pressure (BP) control in SLE patients is unknown. In the present study, we hypothesized that first-line immunomodulatory therapies prescribed to SLE patients would have a beneficial impact on BP. We retrospectively analyzed the Research Data Warehouse containing de-identified patient data (n = 1,075,406) from the University of Mississippi Medical Center for all patients with a clinical diagnosis of SLE. BP responses were analyzed in SLE patients that were initially prescribed a single therapy (methotrexate, hydroxychloroquine, azathioprine, mycophenolate mofetil (MMF), or prednisone). Of the 811 SLE patients who met criteria, most were hypertensive (56%), female (94%), and black (65%). Individuals prescribed MMF or hydroxychloroquine had significantly decreased BP and improved BP control at follow-up (>7 days and <3 months after initial visit). Our results suggest that MMF and hydroxychloroquine have beneficial effects on BP, independent of adjunctive antihypertensive therapies and existing renal disease.

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Fig. 1: Database flow chart for exclusion numbers and sample sizes for each drug class.
Fig. 2: Baseline comorbidity prevalence within each group.
Fig. 3: Impact of SLE therapy on MAP and BP control.

Data availability

The data generated during this study is contained within the manuscript and in supplemental files. Any additional data is available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


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This work was supported by grants from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (K99 MD014738) to JSC, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (K99 HL146888) to EBT, National Institute of General Medical Sciences (P20 GM104357) and IDeA grant (U54 GM115428) to WBH, and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (P01 HL051971) and National Institute of General Medical Sciences (P20 GM104357) to the UMMC Department of Physiology and Biophysics.

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Authors and Affiliations



JSC, EBT, and WBH contributed to the conception and design of the study. EBT and JSC drafted the manuscript. WBH performed statistical analyses. JSC created all tables and figures. EBT, JSC, and WBH revised the manuscript and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Erin B. Taylor.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Data from this study was generated using the University of Mississippi Medical Center Research Data Warehouse. The data is in this repository is extracted from the electronic health record system (Epic) and de-identified and are thus exempt from IRB approval.

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Clemmer, J.S., Hillegass, W.B. & Taylor, E.B. Antihypertensive effects of immunosuppressive therapy in autoimmune disease. J Hum Hypertens (2022).

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