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Neurology. 2012 Aug 7;79(6):575-82. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e318263c42b. Epub 2012 Jul 25.

Markedly upregulated serum interleukin-12 as a novel biomarker in POEMS syndrome.

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Departments of Neurology, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Chiba.



To systematically study abnormalities in cytokine profiles in polyneuropathy, organomegaly, endocrinopathy, M-protein, and skin changes (POEMS) syndrome, which has been increasingly recognized as a cause of demyelinating neuropathy associated with plasma cell dyscrasia and elevated serum level of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).


In this case-control study, we measured serum levels of 27 cytokines in patients with POEMS syndrome using a multiplex suspension array system, and compared them with those of controls. In 10 patients, serial changes after treatment were analyzed.


Interleukin (IL)-12 as well as VEGF levels were markedly increased (p < 0.0001) in all the patients (n = 23). Ten kinds of other proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor-α were also significantly increased in the POEMS syndrome group, but in some patients the serum levels of such cytokines remained within the normal ranges. After treatments, the IL-12 as well as VEGF levels significantly decreased with clinical improvements (p > 0.01 and p > 0.05, respectively).


Our findings suggest that serum IL-12 is a biomarker of the disease activity in POEMS syndrome. The overproduction of IL-12, as well as VEGF, is likely to play an important role in the pathogenesis of the disorder, and could contribute to the peripheral nerve demyelination in POEMS syndrome.

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