Levels of the 90 kDa heat shock protein (hsp90) are elevated in a subset of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) due to enhanced transcription of the hsp90beta gene. In cultured cells, transcription of the hsp90beta gene is induced following exposure to IL-6 or IL-10 which are known to be elevated in SLE patients. Here we have measured the levels of hsp90 protein and of IL-6, IL-10 in SLE patients and normal controls. We demonstrate that the levels of hsp90 protein in individual patients correlate with the IL-6 level but not with the level of IL-10. Moreover, hsp90 protein levels in patients correlate with the presence of IgG autoantibodies to hsp90. These results support a model in which elevated levels of IL-6 in SLE patients induce elevated levels of hsp90 protein which in turn results in the production of autoantibodies to this protein.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.