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J Immunol. 2000 Mar 1;164(5):2832-8.

High levels of IL-17 in rheumatoid arthritis patients: IL-15 triggers in vitro IL-17 production via cyclosporin A-sensitive mechanism.

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Departments ofPathophysiology and Immunology, Rehabilitation, and Connective Tissue Disease, Institute of Rheumatology, Warsaw, Poland.


Recent data suggest that IL-15 plays an important role in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis. In the present study, we hypothesized that elevated in the joints of rheumatoid arthritis, but not osteoarthritis, patients, IL-15 may exert its proinflammatory properties via the induction of IL-17, a cytokine known to stimulate synoviocytes to release several mediators of inflammation including IL-6, IL-8, GM-CSF and PGE2. To test this hypothesis, we first measured the levels of IL-17 and IL-15 using specific ELISA and found that synovial fluids of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, but not with osteoarthritis, contain high levels of these cytokines. A strong correlation between IL-15 and IL-17 levels in synovial fluids was observed. Among tested factors, LPS and TNF-alpha failed, IL-15 and IL-2 were equipotent, and PMA + ionomycin was far more efficient in the induction of IL-17 secretion by PBMCs isolated from healthy blood donors. Interestingly, synovial fluid cells, in contrast to PBMCs isolated from patients with rheumatoid arthritis, but not osteoarthritis, respond to PMA + ionomycin with much lower, comparable to IL-15-triggered IL-17 secretion. Moreover, PMA + ionomycin-triggered IL-17 secretion is completely or partially blocked in the presence of low doses of cyclosporin A or high doses of methylprednisolone, respectively. IL-15-triggered IL-17 secretion by PBMCs was completely inhibited by these drugs. Thus, our results suggest for the first time that IL-15 may represent a physiological trigger that via cyclosporin A and steroid sensitive pathways leads to the overproduction of IL-17 in the joints of rheumatoid arthritis patients.

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