Sex-Specific Cardiovascular Comorbidities with Associations in Dermatologic and Rheumatic Disorders

  • Peter L. M. KerkhofEmail author
  • Irina Khamaganova
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 1065)


Cardiology, dermatology, and rheumatology form a fascinating triad. Many skin and joint disorders are associated with cardiovascular comorbidities because they share etiologic elements. Female predominance is often remarkable and likely related to autoimmune pathology. Although studies have shown that X-encoded genes may be involved in the differences in immunity between males and females, other studies have also shown that sex chromosomes are irrelevant and that estrogens and androgens are responsible for the differences. The elevated immune activity in females provides a beneficial position in coping with a pathogenic stimulus but may also enhance their susceptibility to autoimmunity. The complexity of the immune system and its role as a defensive force against infection requires an armamentarium to precisely identify and selectively control inflammatory processes or cells which promote atherosclerosis. On the other hand, the inflammation in skin diseases seems to be an active source of diverse proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines which can predispose to cardiovascular comorbidities. Also, it has been shown that comorbidity disproportionately accelerates risk in women.

The skin offers a readily available window to facilitate detection of risk factors or even to assist the diagnostic process regarding a variety of disorders, including those with cardiovascular involvement. Current imaging techniques provide exquisite capabilities for diagnosing and possibly even counteracting atherosclerotic plaque formation, before serious cardiovascular events occur. Combining imaging approaches (such as videocapillaroscopy, intravascular ultrasound, and FDG positron emission tomography) with insights based on immunology will likely accelerate advances in this area.

We review major dermatologic manifestations and rheumatologic disorders which are associated with cardiac and vascular abnormalities. In particular we discuss sex-specific aspects concerning incidence and severity of cardiovascular disease associated with systemic sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and hidradenitis suppurativa.


Cardio-dermatology Sex-specific risk factors Heart failure Stroke Psoriasis Atopic dermatitis Hidradenitis suppurativa Systemic sclerosis Systemic lupus erythematosus Rheumatoid arthritis Ankylosing spondylitis Inflammatory bowel disease Rosacea Immune-mediated inflammatory disease Ischemic heart disease Inflammasome Neutrophil extracellular trap Inflammation imaging Sex hormones Pulse wave velocity Carotid intima-media thickness Nailfold videocapillaroscopy PET scan Review 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, Amsterdam Cardiovascular SciencesVU University Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Skin Diseases & CosmetologyPirogov Russian National Research Medical UniversityMoscowRussia

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