Background and aims The successful application of IL-17 inhibitors in a number of chronic inflammatory diseases has increased interest for the role of IL-17 in other conditions. We investigated the clinical associations for the predominant family member IL-17A in patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE).
Methods Cross-sectional study of SLE patients (n=102, age 49, 86% female) recruited from a regional registry. IL-17A levels were determined by immunoassay, disease activity by SLEDAI-2K and cumulative damage by SLICC-DI scores. Non-parametric techniques were used to examine the association between IL-17A and disease activity, autoantibody profiles and damage development in SLE patients and for comparisons with healthy controls (n=31).
Results SLE patients had higher IgG levels, lower T cell and B cell counts, but median IL-17A levels did not differ from controls (28.4 vs. 28.4 pg/ml, p=0.9).
In SLE patients, IL-17A levels did not correlate with SLEDAI-2K or SDI, but were inversely related with systolic blood pressure (r=−0.31, p=0.02), years smoking (r=−0.23, p<0.001), cumulative heart (r=−0.24, p=0.03) and malignancy damage (r=−0.18, p=0.06).
Serological correlations for IL-17A existed with levels of IgG (r=0.21, p=0.05), hs-CRP levels (r=0.28, p<0.01), proteinuria (r=0.64, p=0.004) and pre-albumen (r=−0.22, p=0.03).
Longitudinal data showed only modest fluctuations in 17A levels, unrelated to SLEDAI-2K
Conclusions These data indicate that while IL-17A participates in the inflammatory process in SLE, it also seems to serve a protective purpose in reducing heart disease and cancer in SLE. This dual role is consistent with experimental and clinical data and raises concerns about inhibting IL-17 in SLE patients.
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