Introduction: In sarcoidosis, the search for disease activity markers that correlate with treatment response is ongoing. The aim of this study was to investigate the pattern of two proposed markers, serum angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) and soluble IL-2 receptor (sIL-2R) during methotrexate (MTX) therapy in sarcoidosis patients.
Materials and methods: We analysed 114 sarcoidosis patients who used MTX for six months, consisting of a subgroup of 76 patients with a pulmonary indication for treatment and a subgroup of 38 patients with an extra-pulmonary indication. ACE and sIL-2R serum levels were measured at baseline and after six months of treatment. Correlation coefficients (R) and odds ratios (ORs) were calculated to study the correlation and predictive effect of serum ACE and sIL-2R levels for pulmonary improvement.
Results: High baseline levels of ACE correlated significantly with lung function improvement after treatment (R = 0.45, p < 0.0001; stronger in the pulmonary subgroup R 0.57, p < 0.0001). ACE baseline levels >90 U/l predicted a 10% improvement in overall lung function (OR 3.55; CI 1.34-9.38), with the highest prediction level for 10% improvement in DLCO (OR 4.63; CI 1.23-17.4). After six months of MTX, mean ACE decreased with 17.2 U/l (p < 0.0001) and sIL-2R with 1850 pg/ml (p < 0.0001). Decreases in both ACE and sIL-2R correlated with an increase in lung function. The strongest correlation was found with change in DLCO in the pulmonary subgroup (ACE R = 0.63, P < 0.0001; sIL-2R R = 0.56, P < 0.0001).
Conclusion: Baseline and serial serum ACE and sIL-2R levels correlate well with lung function improvement during MTX treatment. Serial measurements of these biomarkers are helpful in monitoring treatment effects in sarcoidosis patients.
Keywords: ACE; Angiotensin converting enzyme; Methotrexate; Sarcoidosis; Soluble IL-2 receptor; sIL-2R.
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