Background/aims: To better characterize the molecules involved in leukocyte tissue infiltration during hepatitis C-mixed cryoglobulinemia (HCV-MC)-associated vasculitis.
Methods: The involvement of ELAM, ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 was evaluated in 36 patients with HCV-MC vasculitis using three different approaches: concentrations of soluble forms by specific ELISA, tissue expression by immunohistochemistry on patients nerve biopsies, endothelial expression by FACS analysis, on cells activated in vitro by cryoprecipitates purified from HCV-MC patients.
Results: Concentrations of sVCAM-1 were significantly elevated in the serum of HCV-MC patients compared to HCV patients without MC, the highest concentrations being found in severe vasculitis. VCAM-1 expression was detected on blood vessels from nerve biopsies performed in patients with severe vasculitis. When added to endothelial cells in vitro, HCV-MC patients cryoprecipitate induced VCAM-1 but also ELAM and ICAM-1 expression possibly through a mechanism due to the C1q complement fraction interaction with endothelial cells, since C1q was consistently present in the cryoprecipitates.
Conclusions: VCAM-1 is mainly involved in the pathogenesis of HCV-MC-associated severe vasculitis and may be a potential interesting therapeutic target.