Decreased peripheral blood T cell cytokine gene expression in rheumatoid arthritis

Scand J Rheumatol. 1999;28(4):244-51. doi: 10.1080/03009749950155625.


Currently, few informations are available about spontaneous production of T cell cytokines in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) peripheral blood (PB), because these cytokines are generally under the detection threshold of ELISAs. Because the Th1/Th2 balance could help to determine the outcome of RA, we used a sensitive and quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) method to mesure spontaneous T cell production of IL-2, IL-4, IL-10, and IFN-gamma mRNAs using unstimulated PBMC from 25 active RA patients, not taking any DMARDs for at least 6 weeks, and 19 healthy controls. Spontaneous IL-2 and IL-4 mRNA expressions are significantly lower in RA patients compared to healthy controls. Levels of IL-10 and IFN-gamma are similar in the two groups. No correlation was found between cytokine mRNA levels and clinical parameters. Spontaneous IL-4 and IL-10 mRNA levels are respectively correlated to the number of CD4+ T cells and to the number of monocytes in PB. After in vitro stimulation, IFN-gamma mRNA production by RA PBMC is significantly decreased. Most of the patients cannot be classified as having a T cell cytokine type 1 or type 2 secretion pattern in PB. IL-2 and IL-4 mRNAs in PB of active RA are produced at a low spontaneous level and the response to in vitro activation by mitogen is weak.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / genetics*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / physiopathology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytokines / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / immunology
  • Interleukin-10 / genetics
  • Interleukin-2 / genetics
  • Interleukin-4 / genetics
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Reference Values
  • Regression Analysis
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-2
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Interleukin-10
  • Interleukin-4
  • Interferon-gamma