Introduction: In this study, we investigated possible aberrations of monocytes from patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS). We focused on B-cell-activating factor of the TNF family (BAFF) and IL-6 because they are both produced by monocytes and are known to be involved in the pathogenesis of pSS.
Methods: Peripheral monocytes were prepared from both pSS patients and normal individuals. The cells were stimulated in vitro with IFN-γ, and the amounts of IL-6 and soluble BAFF (sBAFF) produced by the cells were quantitated. The effect of sBAFF itself on the production of IL-6 was also studied. To investigate the response of pSS monocytes to these stimuli, the expression levels of the genes encoding BAFF receptors and IL-6-regulating transcription factors were quantitated.
Results: Peripheral pSS monocytes produced significantly higher amounts of sBAFF and IL-6 than normal monocytes did, even in the absence of stimulation. The production of these cytokines was significantly increased upon stimulation with IFN-γ. The elevated production of IL-6 was significantly suppressed by an anti-BAFF antibody. In addition, stimulation of pSS monocytes with sBAFF induced a significant increase in IL-6 production. Moreover, the expression levels of a BAFF receptor and transcription factors regulating IL-6 were significantly elevated in pSS monocytes compared to normal monocytes.
Conclusions: The results of the present study suggest that the mechanisms underlying the production of sBAFF and IL-6 are impaired in pSS monocytes. Our research implies that this impairment is due to abnormally overexpressed IL-6-regulating transcription factors and a BAFF receptor. These abnormalities may cause the development of pSS.