JOURNAL ARTICLE

Cytokines play an aetiopathogenetic role in fibromyalgia: a hypothesis and pilot study

D J Wallace, M Linker-Israeli, D Hallegua, S Silverman, D Silver, M H Weisman
Rheumatology 2001, 40 (7): 743-9
11477278

OBJECTIVE: To measure soluble factors having a possible role in fibromyalgia (FM) and compare the profiles of patients with recent onset of the syndrome with patients with chronic FM.

METHODS: The production of cytokines, cytokine-related molecules, and a CXC chemokine, interleukin (IL)-8, was examined. Fifty-six patients with FM (23 with <2 yr and 33 with >2 yr of symptoms) were compared with age- and sex-matched healthy controls. Cytokines and cytokine-related molecules were measured in sera and in supernatants of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) that were incubated with and without lectins and phorbol myristate acetate (PMA).

RESULTS: No differences between FMS and controls were found by measuring IL-1beta, IL-2, IL-10, serum IL-2 receptor (sIL-2R), interferon gamma (IFN-gamma), and tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha). Levels of IL-1R antibody (IL-1Ra) and IL-8 were significantly higher in sera, and IL-1Ra and IL-6 were significantly higher in stimulated and unstimulated FM PBMC compared with controls. Serum IL-6 levels were comparable to those in controls, but were elevated in supernatants of in vitro-activated PBMC derived from patients with >2 yr of symptoms. In the presence of PMA, there were additional increases in IL-1Ra, IL-8 and IL-6 over control values.

CONCLUSIONS: In patients with FM we found increases over time in serum levels and/or PBMC-stimulated activity of soluble factors whose release is stimulated by substance P. Because IL-8 promotes sympathetic pain and IL-6 induces hyperalgesia, fatigue and depression, it is hypothesized that they may play a role in modulating FM symptoms.

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