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Cytokine. 2011 Dec;56(3):544-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cyto.2011.08.030. Epub 2011 Sep 14.

Role of IL-13 in systemic sclerosis.

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Department of Immunology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA.


Systemic sclerosis (SSc) has the highest fatality rate among connective tissue diseases and is characterized by vascular damage, inflammation and fibrosis. Currently, no therapy has proven effective in modifying the course of SSc, a reflection of its complex pathogenesis. T cell-derived cytokines have been implicated in the induction of fibrosis. The role of the pro-fibrotic type 2 cytokine IL-13 and its regulation appear to be important in the pathogenesis of SSc and other fibrotic disorders. Recent work has shown that dysregulated production of IL-13 by effector CD8+ T cells is critical for predisposing patients to more severe forms of cutaneous disease and that this dysregulation is associated with defects in the molecular control of IL-13 production, such as increased expression of the transcription factor GATA-3. Silencing of GATA-3 with siRNA significantly reduces IL-13 production by CD8+ T cells from patients. We review these new insights into SSc pathogenesis that will enable establishment of highly relevant biomarkers of immune dysfunction in patients predisposed to develop SSc and open new possibilities for development of more specific diagnosis and treatment.

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