IL-6/IFN-β2 in synovial effusions of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and other arthritides. Identification of several isoforms and studies of cellular sources

N. Bhardwaj, U. Santhanam, L. L. Lau, S. B. Tatter, J. Ghrayeb, M. Rivelis, R. M. Steinman, P. B. Sehgal, L. T. May

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110 Scopus citations


We have looked for IL-6, a cytokine that has immunomodulating and inflammation-associated activities, in joint exudates (fluid and mononuclear cells) from patients with rheumatoid arthritis and other arthritides using both biologic and biochemical assays. IL-6 was assessed by its ability to stimulate α1-antichymotrypsin secretion from the human hepatoma cell line Hep3B clone 2, an activity which is blocked by an antiserum to Escherichia coli derived IL-6, and by the growth of the IL-6-dependent murine hybridoma 7TD1 cell line. IL-6 isoforms in synovial fluid were characterized by immunoaffinity chromatography followed by Western blotting. The presence of IL-1 in synovial fluids and its production by synovial fluid mononuclear cells was monitored by Western blotting and indirect immunofluorescence with polyclonal anti-IL-1β antisera. In an analysis of 30 effusions from 27 rheumatoid patients with acutely inflammed joints, abundant quantities of IL-6 (> 2 ng/ml) were detected in 23 by the α1-antichymotrypsin bioassay. Several rheumatoid synovial fluids also had elevated IL-6 levels in the 7TD1 bioassay. Seven of nine nonrheumatoid effusions also contained high levels of IL-6 (2 > ng/ml). No IL-1 (< 0.25 ng/ml) could be detected by Western blotting in 10 rheumatoid effusions even though eight of these contained high levels of IL-6. The IL-6 activity could be neutralized with a rabbit antiserum to rIL-6. Multiple IL-6 isoforms (25, 30, 45 kDa) were present in two rheumatoid and one traumatic effusion studied. Fresh mononuclear cells isolated from various synovial effusions did not appear to make IL-6 constitutively, as no IL-6 could be detected in the media of cells cultured for 12 to 18 h after isolation. Similarly, there was no constitutive production of IL-1 by these cells. However, synovial fluid mononuclear cells could be induced to secrete both IL-6 and IL-1 after stimulation with LPS. The LPS-responsive cells were monocytes and not lymphocytes or dendritic cells. These findings suggest that IL-6 is involved in inflammatory joint disease. However, the primary cells synthesizing it may be located in the synovial lining instead of the joint exudate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2153-2159
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes


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