The presence of interleukin-13 in rheumatoid synovium and its antiinflammatory effects on synovial fluid macrophages from patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Arthritis Rheum. 1996 Oct;39(10):1693-702. doi: 10.1002/art.1780391012.


Objective: To study the production of interleukin-13 (IL-13) in rheumatoid synovium and the effects of recombinant IL-13 on the phenotype and function of synovial fluid (SF) macrophages and T cells derived from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Methods: The presence of IL-13 in SF was studied using an IL-13-specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA); the production of IL-13 was studied in SF mononuclear cells (SFMC) by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. The effects of recombinant IL-13 on cytokine production by and phenotype of SFMC were evaluated using cytokine-specific ELISAs and flow cytometry, respectively. The effect of IL-13 on the proliferation of SFMC was determined by 3H-thymidine incorporation. The production and the effects of IL-13 were compared with those of IL-4.

Results: IL-13 was present in 27 of 28 SF samples, and IL-13 messenger RNA (mRNA) was detectable in SFMC. Importantly, IL-13 levels were significantly higher than those of IL-4, and IL-13 protein and mRNA were expressed in several samples, although IL-4 synthesis was undetectable. Recombinant IL-13 significantly reduced the production of IL-1 beta and tumor necrosis factor alpha and the expression of CD16 and CD64 by SF macrophages, whereas the expression of HLA-DR and CD23 was increased. These effects on SF macrophages were similar to those observed with IL-4, but in contrast to IL-4, IL-13 had no growth-promoting effect on SF T cells.

Conclusion: IL-13 is consistently present in rheumatoid synovium. The ability of exogenous IL-13 to decrease the production of proinflammatory cytokines by SFMC suggests that it may have therapeutic potential in the treatment of patients with RA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / metabolism
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Division / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Interleukin-1 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-13 / analysis*
  • Interleukin-13 / pharmacology
  • Interleukin-4 / immunology
  • Interleukin-4 / pharmacology
  • Joints / immunology
  • Joints / metabolism
  • Macrophages / cytology
  • Macrophages / drug effects
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recombinant Proteins / pharmacology
  • Synovial Fluid / cytology*
  • Synovial Fluid / immunology*
  • Synovial Membrane / chemistry
  • Synovial Membrane / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Interleukin-1
  • Interleukin-13
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interleukin-4