Cytokine and chemokine levels in systemic sclerosis: relationship with cutaneous and internal organ involvement

Clin Exp Immunol. 2004 Dec;138(3):540-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.2004.02642.x.


Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a connective tissue disorder characterized by excessive collagen deposition in the skin and internal organs. Several cytokines and chemokines have been implicated in the induction of fibrosis, but a definitive relationship between specific cytokines and organ involvement has not been established yet. Serum samples, PBMC and T cell lines (TCL) obtained from 54 patients affected by SSc and 20 healthy donors (HD) were examined by ELISA for Interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma ), interleukin (IL)-4, IL-6, IL-10, IL-18, Transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta1, Tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, sCD30, Macrophage derived chemokine (MDC), Monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP)-1, Macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-1alpha and Regulated on activation normal T-cell expressed and secreted (RANTES). In all the SSc serum samples, we found significantly increased levels of IL6, TNFalpha and MCP-1 but reduced amounts of gamma-IFN and MDC. IL6, IL10, IL18, MIP-1alpha and TNFalpha measured in supernatants from PHA-stimulated PBMC and IL6, MCP-1 and RANTES in supernatants from stimulated TCL were also increased in patients. MDC was decreased in all the biological SSc sources studied. TGF-beta1, IL10, and sCD30 were produced at a significantly lower level by SSc TCL. Serum IL6 and sCD30 levels were significantly increased in dc-SSc patients compared to lc-SSc as were levels of MCP-1 produced by PBMC and IL10 from TCL. We observed a strict relationship between pulmonary fibrosis and IL10, MCP-1 (both from TCL) and serum IL6. Kidney involvement was related to serum MCP-1 levels and IL18 production from PBMC. Oesophageal involvement correlated with MDC production from PBMC and IL10 synthesis by TCL. We showed that IL-6, IL-10, MDC and MCP-1 are variably associated with internal organ involvement and allow the discrimination between limited and diffuse forms of the disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • Chemokines / analysis*
  • Cytokines / analysis*
  • Esophageal Motility Disorders / complications
  • Esophageal Motility Disorders / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / complications
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / immunology
  • Interleukin-10 / analysis
  • Interleukin-6 / analysis
  • Kidney Diseases / complications
  • Kidney Diseases / immunology
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / complications
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / immunology
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / immunology*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / analysis


  • Chemokines
  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-6
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interleukin-10