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Rheumatology (Oxford). 2019 Aug 3. pii: kez318. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/kez318. [Epub ahead of print]

IL-16 expression is increased in the skin and sera of patients with systemic sclerosis.

Author information

1
Department of Dermatology and Plastic Surgery, Faculty of Life Sciences, Kumamoto University, Kumamoto city, Japan.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

SSc is an autoimmune disease with chronic and persistent inflammation in its pathogenesis. To examine the expression pattern of IL-16 in SSc lesions, the serum concentration of IL-16 in SSc patients and the relationship between serum IL-16 levels and the clinical symptoms of SSc were investigated.

METHODS:

Using immunohistochemical analysis, we examined the quantity and localization of IL-16 in affected skin obtained from SSc patients. We also measured serum levels of IL-16 in SSc patients using an ELISA. We then validated the correlation between serum IL-16 levels and clinical symptoms in patients with SSc.

RESULTS:

In the skin, IL-16 was expressed on the lymphocytes around the capillaries. Furthermore, the proportion of IL-16-positive cells was statistically higher in patients with dcSSc than in those with lcSSc patients (43.9 vs 29.1%, P < 0.05). The serum IL-16 levels in SSc patients were statistically significant elevated compared with healthy controls (297.0 vs 194.9 pg/ml, P < 0.05). Increased serum IL-16 levels in SSc patients were correlated with the proportion classified as dcSSc, skin score and the presence of cutaneous symptoms of erythema and pigmentation.

CONCLUSION:

The regional up-regulation of IL-16 in the skin is not only associated with skin sclerosis, but also with systemic IL-16 activation. IL-16 may play a role in the pathogenesis of SSc. Moreover, serum IL-16 levels may be useful as a biomarker for determining the severity of the skin sclerosis. Inhibiting IL-16 activation may be effective in treating SSc.

KEYWORDS:

ELISA; IL-16; cytokines; fibrosis; immunohistochemistry; scleroderma; systemic sclerosis

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