TL1A is a member of the TNF superfamily. It performs significantly in the pathogenesis of rheumatic and autoimmune diseases partly through regulating the Th17 pathway. The clinical implication of circulating TL1A in patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc) remains unclear, and correlation between TL1A and Th17-related cytokines in the pathogenesis of SSc needs to be discussed. We measured serum levels of TL1A and Th17-related cytokines by ELISA in 47 patients with SSc, 56 patients with SLE, and 53 healthy subjects, and investigated association of these cytokines with clinical manifestations and laboratory variables. TL1A in relation to Th17-related cytokines were examined. In addition, the transcript level of TL1A in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) was determined by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (real-time PCR). Serum TL1A levels were higher in patients with SSc than in healthy controls (P = 0.001), but were lower compared with SLE patients (P = 0.004). Diffuse cutaneous SSc or limited cutaneous SSc patients reported elevated expression of TL1A than those in healthy controls (P = 0.002, P = 0.007). Patients with active disease showed significantly higher expression of TL1A when compared with less active disease (P = 0.014). SSc patients with arthritis, elevated IgG titer, ESR >30 mm/h, and CRP >5 mg/l displayed elevated expression of TL1A, respectively. Serum levels of IL-17 and IL-21 were increased in SSc patients compared with healthy controls and positively related to TL1A levels (r s = 0.373, P = 0.010; r s = 0.370, P = 0.011, respectively). Moreover, TL1A mRNA expression in PBMCs was significantly higher in patients with SSc compared with healthy controls (P < 0.001). TL1A may play a role in the development of SSc.
Keywords: Immune; Systemic sclerosis; TL1A; Th17.