Introduction: The aim of this study was to characterize interleukin 17 (IL-17) and interleukin 22 (IL-22) producing cells in peripheral blood (PB), skin, synovial fluid (SF) and synovial tissue (ST) in patients with psoriasis (Ps) and psoriatic arthritis (PsA).
Methods: Flow cytometry was used to enumerate cells making IL-22 and IL-17, in skin and/or SF and PB from 11 patients with Ps and 12 patients with PsA; skin and PB of 15 healthy controls and SF from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients were used as controls. Expression of the interleukin 23 receptor (IL-23R) and chemokine receptors CCR4 and CCR6 was examined. Secretion of IL-17 and IL-22 was measured by ELISA. ST was analysed by immunohistochemical staining of IL-17 and IL-22.
Results: Increased frequencies of IL-17+ and IL-22+ CD4+ T cells were seen in PB of patients with PsA and Ps. IL-17 secretion was significantly elevated in both PsA and Ps, whilst IL-22 secretion was higher in PsA compared to Ps and healthy controls. A higher proportion of the CD4+ cells making IL-17 or IL-22 expressed IL-23R and frequencies of IL-17+, CCR6+ and CCR4+ T cells were elevated in patients with Ps and those with PsA. In patients with PsA, CCR6+ and IL-23R + T cells numbers were elevated in SF compared to PB. Increased frequencies of IL-17+ and IL-22+ CD4+ T cells were demonstrated in Ps skin lesions. In contrast, whilst elevated frequencies of CD4+ IL-17+ cells were seen in PsA SF compared to PB, frequencies of CD4+ IL-22+ T cells were lower. Whereas IL-17 expression was equivalent in PsA, osteoarthritis (OA) and RA ST, IL-22 expression was higher in RA than either OA or PsA ST, in which IL-22 was strikingly absent.
Conclusions: Elevated frequencies of IL-17 and IL-22 producing CD4+ T cells were a feature of both Ps and PsA. However their differing distribution at disease sites, including lower frequencies of IL-22+ CD4+ T cells in SF compared to skin and PB, and lack of IL-22 expression in ST suggests that Th17 and Th22 cells have common, as well as divergent roles in the pathogenesis of Ps and PsA.