Changes in the expression of Th17 cell-associated cytokines in the development of rheumatic heart disease

Yun Wen, Zhiyu Zeng, Chun Gui, Lang Li, Wenting Li
Cardiovascular Pathology: the Official Journal of the Society for Cardiovascular Pathology 2015, 24 (6): 382-7

BACKGROUND: Autoimmunity plays a critical role in the development of rheumatic heart disease (RHD). Recent studies have linked Th17 cells to the autoimmune mechanism associated with RHD. This study aimed to investigate changes in Th17 cell-related cytokine expression in acute and chronic RHD.

METHODS: We established a Lewis rat model of experimental RHD, which was induced by inactivated Group A streptococci and complete Freund's adjuvant. After 7- and 24-week intervention treatments, we measured serum levels of interleukin-17 (IL-17) and IL-6, key cytokines associated with Th17 cells, using a Luminex liquichip method, and levels of IL-17 and IL-6 in heart tissues using immunohistochemical assays. Moreover, expression levels of IL-17, IL-21, IL-6, and IL-23 in mitral valve tissues of human RHD patients were also measured using immunohistochemistry.

RESULTS: Compared with the normal control group, serum IL-17 and IL-6 concentrations were significantly increased, and the expression levels of IL-17 and IL-6 in the mitral valve were also significantly increased in 7- or 24-week RHD rats (P<.017). Compared with the control group, expression of IL-17, IL-21, IL-6, and IL-23 in mitral valve tissues was significantly increased in RHD patients (P<.05).

CONCLUSIONS: Our study suggested that the increased expression of Th17 cell-associated cytokines might play an important role in the pathogenesis and development of RHD.

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