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J Interferon Cytokine Res. 2017 Oct;37(10):440-448. doi: 10.1089/jir.2017.0063. Epub 2017 Oct 3.

Interleukin-34 Promotes Fibrocyte Proliferation.

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1 Division of Advanced Diagnostics, Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, University Health Network , Toronto, Canada .
2 Department of Immunology, University of Toronto , Toronto, Canada .


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic autoimmune disease affecting multiple joints. It remains unclear which factors in the circulation are associated with the systemic spread of the disease. Fibrocytes are pluripotent mesenchymal stem cells present in the circulation of RA patients. Our earlier findings implicated activated fibrocytes in the etiology of onset and pathogenesis of RA. Elevated levels of interleukin-34 (IL-34) in the serum and synovial fluid of RA patients are associated with rheumatoid factor and anticyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies, indicators of RA. Moreover, IL-34 levels are independent predictors of radiographic progression in RA patients. We provide evidence of simultaneous elevated levels of IL-34 and increased numbers of activated fibrocytes in the circulation of mice induced to develop arthritis. In vitro, IL-34 treatment induced the proliferation of fibrocytes, mediated by activation of cognate CSF-R1s on fibrocytes. Taken together, we infer that IL-34 has a role in stimulating fibrocyte proliferation and activation during arthritis, thereby contributing to both onset of RA and systemic spread of disease.


IL-34; T cell activation; fibrocytes; rheumatoid arthritis

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