Rheumatology International

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 387–393 | Cite as

Increased plasma levels of IL-21 and IL-23 in spondyloarthritis are not associated with clinical and MRI findings

  • Thomas Andersen
  • Tue Kruse Rasmussen
  • Malene Hvid
  • Christian Kanstrup Holm
  • Karen Jong-Nyo Berenth Madsen
  • Anne Grethe Jurik
  • Marianne Hokland
  • Kristian Stengaard-Pedersen
  • Berit Schiøttz-Christensen
  • Bent Deleuran
Original Article


We have investigated the role of the Th17-related cytokines interleukin-17A (IL-17A), IL-21, and IL-23 in spondyloarthritis (SpA) by examining their association with disease activity and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings in patients with SpA (n = 80). Furthermore, to investigate the cellular origins of the cytokines, paired mononuclear cells from blood and synovial fluid were examined for the expression of IL-17A, IL-21, and IL-23R using multicolor flow cytometry. Both IL-21 and IL-23 levels were increased in plasma from SpA patients compared with healthy volunteers (P < 0.05), whereas IL-17A was not. A significant correlation was observed between individual levels of IL-21 and IL-23 (r = 0.7, P < 0.001). No association between individual levels of IL-17A, IL-21, and IL-23 with C-reactive protein (CRP), MRI changes, and clinical scoring (BASMI, BASFI, and BASDAI) were observed. The frequency of CD4+CD45RO+ T cells expressing IL-21 and IL-23R was increased in the inflamed SpA joint compared to peripheral blood (P < 0.05). This study demonstrate that the plasma levels of the Th17-related cytokines IL-21 and IL-23, but not IL-17A, are increased in SpA patients, but we did not find evidence that the level of these cytokines reflect disease activity in SpA.


Spondyloarthropathy Inflammation MRI IL-17 IL-21 IL-23 



The authors are grateful for the support from the Danish Agency for Science, Novo Nordisk, Leo Pharma, the Danish Rheumatoid Association, Danish Psoriasis Association, and The Institute of Clinical Medicine at the University of Aarhus.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Andersen
    • 1
  • Tue Kruse Rasmussen
    • 1
  • Malene Hvid
    • 1
    • 2
  • Christian Kanstrup Holm
    • 1
  • Karen Jong-Nyo Berenth Madsen
    • 3
  • Anne Grethe Jurik
    • 3
  • Marianne Hokland
    • 1
  • Kristian Stengaard-Pedersen
    • 4
  • Berit Schiøttz-Christensen
    • 5
  • Bent Deleuran
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Medical Microbiology and ImmunologyAarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Dermato-VenerologyAarhus University HospitalAarhusDenmark
  3. 3.Department of RadiologyAarhus University HospitalAarhusDenmark
  4. 4.Department of RheumatologyAarhus University HospitalAarhusDenmark
  5. 5.Aarhus Clinic for Rheumatic DiseasesAarhusDenmark

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