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Psoriatic arthritis and sacroiliitis are associated with increased vascular inflammation by 18-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography computed tomography: baseline report from the Psoriasis Atherosclerosis and Cardiometabolic Disease Initiative

Shawn Rose12, Jenny Dave1, Corina Millo3, Haley B Naik4, Evan L Siegel5 and Nehal N Mehta1*

Author Affiliations

1 Section of Inflammation and Cardiometabolic Diseases, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), National Institutes of Health, Bethesda MD 20892, USA

2 National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA

3 Nuclear Medicine Positron Emission Tomography Department, National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA

4 National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA

5 Arthritis and Rheumatism Associate, Rockville, MD 20850, USA

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2014, 16:R161  doi:10.1186/ar4676

Published: 30 July 2014



Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis (PsA) increase cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, but surrogate markers for CVD in these disorders are inadequate. Because the presence of sacroiliitis may portend more severe PsA, we hypothesized that sacroiliitis defined by computed tomography (CT) would be associated with increased vascular inflammation defined by 18-fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography/computed tomography (FDG-PET/CT), which is an established measure of CVD.


Participants (n = 65) underwent whole-body FDG-PET/CT. Metabolic activity of the aorta was measured using the maximal standardized uptake value (SUVmax), a measure of atherosclerotic plaque activity. The primary outcome was aortic vascular inflammation. Linear regression (with β-coefficients (β) and P-values reported for PsA and sacroiliitis) was used to adjust for CVD risk factors to determine associations of PsA or sacroiliitis with vascular inflammation. Likelihood ratio testing was performed to evaluate the contribution of sacroiliitis to vascular disease estimation compared to the effects of PsA and traditional CVD risk factors.


Vascular inflammation (measured as SUVmax) was greater (P < 0.001) in patients with sacroiliitis (mean ± SD = 7.33 ± 2.09) defined by CT compared to those without sacroiliitis (6.39 ± 1.49, P = 0.038). There were associations between PsA and aortic inflammation (β = 0.124, P < 0.001) and between sacroiliitis and aortic inflammation (β = 0.270, P < 0.001) after adjusting for CVD risk factors. Sacroiliitis predicted vascular inflammation beyond PsA and CVD risk factors (χ2 = 124.6, P < 0.001).


Sacroiliitis is associated with increased vascular inflammation detected by FDG-PET/CT, suggesting that sacroiliac joint disease may identify patients at greater risk for CVD. Large, ongoing prospective studies are required to confirm these findings.