Objectives: To investigate the regulation of soluble adhesion molecules by tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukin-6 (IL-6), and relationships with circulating cytokine receptors, in vivo, in type 1 diabetes.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Setting: University hospital diabetes clinic.
Subjects: A total of 47 non-nephropathic, Caucasian type 1 diabetics and 39 nondiabetic controls.
Outcome measures: Plasma levels of TNF-alpha, IL-6, their soluble receptors and adhesion molecules intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM-1), vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (sVCAM-1), sE-selectin and von Willebrand factor (vWF), and risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Results: Plasma concentrations of IL-6 were elevated in diabetic patients compared with controls [median (interquartiles) 1.28 (0.89-2.65) vs. 0.66 (0.45-1.73) pg mL(-1): P=0.016], and in these patients IL-6 and soluble IL-6 receptor (sIL-6R) levels correlated with concentrations of sICAM-1 (r = 0.41, P = 0.012 and r = 0.31, P = 0.04, respectively). Tumour necrosis factor-alpha soluble receptor-2 (sTN-FRII), but not TNF-alpha or tumour necrosis factor soluble receptor-1 (sTNFRI), was elevated in diabetic subjects (P = 0.027). Plasma TNF-alpha levels correlated with sVCAM-1 (r = 0.39, P = 0.008), triglycerides (r = 0.36, P = 0.02 1) and diastolic blood pressure (r = 0.35; P = 0.024). Both sTNFRI and sTNFRII correlated with blood pressure (r = 0.46, P = 0.002; r = 0.32, P = 0.034) and triglycerides (r = 0.33, P = 0.033; r = 0.29, P = 0.05). In contrast, HDL-cholesterol and triglyceride were related to sE-selectin (r = -0.45 and +0.45; both P < 0.001). Neither sE-selectin nor vWF were related to cytokine concentrations. Finally, both TNF-alpha and sIL-6R correlated sTNFRI and RII (r = 0.44-0.49, P < 0.001). None of these interactions were apparent in control subjects.
Conclusions: (i) IL-6, through effects on sICAM-1, and TNF-alpha via effects on sVCAM-1, may promote vascular adhesion; (ii) plasma levels of TNF-alpha are associated with dyslipidaemia and increased blood pressure, adding to vascular disease risk; (iii) the actions of both cytokines are probably modified by altered production of soluble receptors in diabetic subjects.