Interleukin-21 induces T-cell activation and proinflammatory cytokine secretion in rheumatoid arthritis.Scand J Immunol. 2006 Nov; 64(5):515-22.SJ
Interleukin (IL)-21 is a CD4+ T-cell-derived cytokine, which is involved in innate and adaptive immune response. In this study, we analysed IL-21 receptor (IL-21R) expression in peripheral blood and synovial fluid mononuclear cells, and investigated the role of IL-21 in the induction of proinflammatory cytokine production by peripheral blood T cells (PB-T) and synovial fluid T cells (SF-T) from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Immunohistochemical staining demonstrated that IL-21R-positive cells were significantly increased in inflamed synovial tissues of RA patients compared with osteoarthritis (OA) and healthy controls. Flow cytometric analysis confirmed that IL-21R was mainly expressed in freshly isolated CD4, CD8, B and NK cells from peripheral blood and synovial fluid, but decreased gradually in T cells 24 h after anti-CD3 stimulation. PB- and SF-T cells from RA patients were more responsive to IL-21 when compared with controls. Importantly, isolated PB- or SF-T cells from RA patients, when stimulated with IL-21 and anti-CD3 MoAb, secreted markedly higher levels of TNF-alpha and IFN-gamma than controls. These data indicate that IL-21R is overexpressed in the inflamed synovial membrane and in peripheral blood or synovial fluid leukocytes of RA patients, and that IL-21 enhances local T-cell activation, proliferation and proinflammatory cytokine secretion. Thus, blockade of IL-21R signalling pathway may have a therapeutic potential in acute RA patients.