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Interleukin-2 in Scleroderma: Correlation of Serum Level with Extent of Skin Involvement and Disease Duration

M. Bashar Kahaleh, MD; and Carwile E. LeRoy, MD
[+] Article and Author Information

Grant Support: The National Institutes of Health, the RGK Foundation, the Phillip and Jane Williams Fellowship, the Scleroderma Research Foundation, the Harwood Institute, the Health Sciences Foundation, and the Biomedical Sciences Fund of the State of South Carolina.

Requests for Reprints: M. Bashar Kahaleh, MD, Division of Rheumatology and Immunology, Department of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, 171 Ashley Avenue, Charleston, SC 29425.

Current Author Addresses: Drs. Kahaleh and LeRoy: Medical University of South Carolina, 171 Ashley Avenue, Charleston, SC 29425.


©1989 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1989;110(6):446-450. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-110-6-446
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Study Objective: To assess whether interleukin-2 has a role in the pathogenesis of scleroderma.

Design: Observe serum effect on the in-vitro growth of an interleukin-2-dependent cytotoxic T-cell line and determine serum level by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.

Setting: Outpatient rheumatology clinic of a university medical center.

Patients: Sera were collected from 47 patients with scleroderma, 20 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, and 14 matched control subjects.

Measurements and Main Results: A significant mitogenic effect was observed in sera from patients with scleroderma of recent onset; a lower proliferative response was seen in rheumatoid sera. Matched control sera had no mitogenic activity. Sera from patients with scleroderma of recent onset supported the in-vitro growth of an interleukin-2-dependent cytotoxic T-cell line. Matched control sera had no similar mitogenic activity. Interleukin-2 was found in sera from 41 of 47 patients with scleroderma (204 ± 356 U/mL, mean + SD), in 9 of 20 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (2.04 + 5.16), and in none of 14 matched control subjects. There was a positive correlation between serum level and the skin progression index (skin score/disease duration).

Conclusions: The presence of interleukin-2 in scleroderma sera strongly supports a role for T-cell activation in scleroderma. The association between serum levels and disease progression indicates that this T-cell process may participate in the progression of the disease.

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