Objective: To investigate the expression pattern of adhesion molecules involved in leukocyte-endothelial cell interactions in giant cell arteritis (GCA).
Methods: Immunohistochemical analysis was performed on frozen temporal artery sections from 32 patients with biopsy-proven GCA and from 12 control patients with other diseases. Adhesion molecules identified were intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1), ICAM-2, ICAM-3, vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1), platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule 1 (PECAM-1), E-selectin, P-selectin, L-selectin, lymphocyte function-associated antigen 1 (LFA-1), very late activation antigen 4 (VLA-4), Mac-1 (CD18/CD11b), and gp 150,95 (CD18/CD11c). Clinical and biochemical parameters of inflammation in the patients, as well as the duration of previous corticosteroid treatment, were prospectively recorded.
Results: Constitutive (PECAM-1, ICAM-1, ICAM-2, and P-selectin) and inducible (E-selectin and VCAM-1) endothelial adhesion molecules for leukocytes were mainly expressed by adventitial microvessels and neovessels within inflammatory infiltrates. Concurrent analysis of leukocyte receptors indicated a preferential use of VLA-4/VCAM-1 and LFA-1/ICAM-1 at the adventitia and Mac-1/ICAM-1 at the intima-media junction. The intensity of inducible endothelial adhesion molecule expression (E-selectin and VCAM-1) correlated with the intensity of the systemic inflammatory response. Previous corticosteroid treatment reduced, but did not completely abrogate, the expression of the inducible endothelial adhesion molecules E-selectin and VCAM-1.
Conclusion: Inflammation-induced angiogenesis is the main site of leukocyte-endothelial cell interactions leading to the development of inflammatory infiltrates in GCA. The distribution of leukocyte-endothelial cell ligand pairs suggests a heterogeneity in leukocyte-endothelial cell interactions used by different functional cell subsets at distinct areas of the temporal artery.