Interleukin 10 hampers endothelial cell differentiation and enhances the effects of interferon α on lupus endothelial cell progenitors

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2015 Jun;54(6):1114-23. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/keu431. Epub 2014 Nov 20.


Objective: SLE is an autoimmune disease characterized by autoantibody generation, organ damage and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Generally considered an anti-inflammatory cytokine, IL-10 is increased in SLE and correlates with poor cardiovascular outcomes in the general population. The aim of this study was to explore the putative role of IL-10 in modulating endothelial function in SLE by examining the effects of this cytokine on endothelial progenitor cell/circulating angiogenic cell (EPC/CAC) differentiation.

Methods: Human and murine control and lupus EPCs/CACs were differentiated into mature endothelial cells (ECs) in the presence or absence of graded concentrations of recombinant IL-10 with or without recombinant IFN-α or a neutralizing antibody to IL-10. IL-10-deficient mice were examined to assess the role of this cytokine in type I IFN-mediated inhibition of EC differentiation and neo-angiogenesis using an in vivo Matrigel plug assay. Serum IL-10 concentrations were measured via ELISA.

Results: IL-10 hampers EC differentiation in a dose-dependent manner. In murine EPC cultures, IL-10 is required to observe the inhibitory effects of type I IFNs on EPC function and neo-angiogenesis. In human SLE EPC/CAC cultures, neutralization of IL-10 significantly improved the differentiation of EPCs, and IL-10 enhanced type I IFN-mediated EPC/CAC dysfunction. The presence of IL-10 in serum inversely correlated with EPC/CAC function in SLE but not in control cells.

Conclusion: IL-10 interferes with endothelial differentiation and may enhance the effects of type I IFN on vascular repair in SLE. IL-10 may be a relevant target for improving cardiovascular risk in SLE.

Keywords: IL-10; cardiovascular; endothelial progenitor; interferon α; lupus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Endothelial Progenitor Cells / metabolism*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interferon-alpha / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-10 / metabolism*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Middle Aged


  • Interferon-alpha
  • Interleukin-10