Interleukin-6 and chemokines in the neuropsychiatric manifestations of systemic lupus erythematosus

Arthritis Rheum. 2007 Apr;56(4):1242-50. doi: 10.1002/art.22451.


Objective: To define the cytokine and chemokine profile in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from patients with neuropsychiatric systemic lupus erythematosus (NPSLE).

Methods: Forty-two SLE patients who had been hospitalized because of NP manifestations were studied. Patients were evaluated at hospitalization and 6 months later; a CSF sample was obtained at each evaluation. As controls, CSF from 6 SLE patients with septic meningitis, 16 SLE patients with no history of NP manifestations (non-NPSLE), and 25 patients with nonautoimmune diseases were also studied. Soluble molecules, including cytokines (interleukin-2 [IL-2], IL-4, IL-6, IL-10, tumor necrosis factor alpha [TNFalpha], and interferon-gamma [IFNgamma]) and chemokines (monocyte chemotactic protein 1 [MCP-1], RANTES, IL-8, monokine induced by IFNgamma [MIG], and interferon-gamma-inducible 10-kd protein [IP-10]), were measured with the use of cytometric bead array kits.

Results: CSF levels of the following molecules were significantly increased in NPSLE patients as compared with non-NPSLE and nonautoimmune diseases control patients, respectively: IL-6 (32.7 versus 3.0 and 2.96 pg/ml), IL-8 (102.8 versus 29.97 and 19.7 pg/ml), IP-10 (888.2 versus 329.7 [P not significant] and 133.6 pg/ml), RANTES (3.8 versus 2.5 and 2.2 pg/ml), MCP-1 (401.7 versus 257.9 [P not significant] and 136.9 pg/ml), and MIG (35.4 versus 11.4 and 3.5 pg/ml). Low levels of IL-2, IL-4, IL-10, TNFalpha, and IFNgamma were found in all groups. All cytokines and chemokines, except TNFalpha, were significantly higher among the SLE patients with septic meningitis than among the NPSLE patients. Six months later and in the absence of NP manifestations, all elevated molecule levels, except RANTES, in patients with NPSLE had decreased significantly, and no differences were noted between the NPSLE and non-NPSLE groups.

Conclusion: A central nervous system response composed of IL-6 and chemokines, but not Th1/Th2 cytokines, is associated with NP manifestations in SLE patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chemokines / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Cytokines / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic
  • Lupus Vasculitis, Central Nervous System / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Lupus Vasculitis, Central Nervous System / diagnosis
  • Lupus Vasculitis, Central Nervous System / psychology*
  • Male
  • Meningitis, Bacterial / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Chemokines
  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-6