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Lupus. 1996 Dec;5(6):571-5.

Serum and urinary interleukin-6 in systemic lupus erythematosus.

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Division of Rheumatology, University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City, USA.


Dysregulation of IL-6 production has been proposed as a pathogenic mechanism in SLE. We asked if serum or urine IL-6 levels could serve as indicators of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) disease activity. Using a sensitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), we measured serum and urine IL-6 in 56 SLE patients. Disease activity was assessed using a standard clinical index, the Systemic Lupus Activity Measure (SLAM). Only seven of 56 SLE patients had elevated serum IL-6 levels, compared with 1 of 32 controls (NS). SLE disease activity did not correlate with serum IL-6 levels. Sixteen of 50 SLE patients in whom urine IL-6 was measured exhibited elevated urine IL-6 levels, compared with 1 of 17 controls (p = < 0.05). Urine IL-6 levels correlated with overall disease activity and with the presence of active urinary sediment. Our results indicate that serum IL-6 is not a predictor of disease activity in SLE, but that urine IL-6 may be a marker of active nephritis.

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