Objectives: Interleukin (IL)-10 functions as an anti-inflammatory cytokine in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). New IL-10 family cytokines IL-19, IL-20, IL-22, IL-24, and IL-26 have recently been discovered. Information concerning the expression and function of these cytokines in autoimmune diseases is currently limited. The aim of this study was to investigate their expression in RA.
Methods: mRNA levels of the cytokines were studied using quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Peripheral blood (PB) and synovial fluid (SF) mononuclear cells (MCs), purified T cells, and monocytes/macrophages from RA patients and healthy volunteers, and synovial tissues from patients with RA or osteoarthritis (OA), were examined. The expression of IL-19 protein in T cells and monocytes/macrophages was studied by flow cytometry.
Results: IL-10 and IL-19 mRNA levels were significantly elevated in SFMCs from patients with RA compared with PBMCs from RA patients or healthy volunteers. IL-20 and IL-22 mRNA levels were also upregulated in RA SFMCs but their level of expression was lower than that of IL-10 or IL-19. Importantly, synovial tissue IL-19 levels in RA were increased when compared with OA. IL-19 expression was upregulated in both T cells and macrophages derived from patients with RA. IL-1beta increased IL-19 levels in PBMCs, suggesting that elevated levels of IL-1 in RA joints may contribute to upregulated IL-19 expression.
Conclusions: The majority of the IL-10 family cytokines are expressed in RA. IL-19 demonstrated the highest expression in rheumatoid joints, and could thus be involved in the regulation of synovial inflammation in RA.