Objective: To correlate serum levels of the soluble adhesion molecules intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1), vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1), E-selectin, and P-selectin with (a) clinical disease activity and progression and (b) the in situ expression and distribution of these adhesion molecules in lesional skin, in patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc).
Methods: Serum samples from 12 SSc patients and 36 healthy controls were examined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Immunohistologic staining was carried out on cryostat sections of lesional skin.
Results: Patients whose SSc was in the early inflammatory stage or who had prominent disease progression showed elevated serum levels of soluble adhesion molecules. Serum levels correlated positively with the expression of these molecules on endothelial cells and fibroblasts in lesional skin.
Conclusion: Serum levels of soluble ICAM-1, VCAM-1, P-selectin, and, to a lesser degree, E-selectin correlate well with their in situ activity and with clinical disease activity. These parameters therefore provide a useful tool for the characterization of disease stage, progression, and prognosis in SSc.