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.
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