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ISSN: 1426-3912
Central European Journal of Immunology
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vol. 43
Clinical immunology

Correlation of interleukin 6 and transforming growth factor β1 with peripheral blood regulatory T cells in rheumatoid arthritis patients: a potential biomarker

Majid Khoshmirsafa, Farhad Seif, Nader Bagheri, Pezhman Beshkar, Mohammad Mousavi, Hedayatollah Shirzad

(Centr Eur J Immunol 2018; 43 (3): 281-288)
Online publish date: 2018/10/30
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Proinflammatory cytokines and regulatory T cells (Tregs) are considered as important factors involved in autoimmunity development especially in rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Aim of the study
To investigate the frequency of peripheral blood Tregs and related cytokines in RA patients and to determine the possible correlation between Treg percentage and interleukin 6 (IL-6) and transforming growth factor β1 (TGF-β1) as indicators in assessment of Treg function and mechanisms preceding autoimmunity in RA.

Material and methods
Thirty-seven Iranian RA patients with a moderate (3.2-5.1) disease activity score (DAS) and the same number of healthy age- and sex-matched individuals were enrolled. Frequency of peripheral blood Tregs (CD4+FoxP3+CD25high) was determined by flow cytometry. Serum levels of IL-6 and TGF-β1 and their expression levels in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were evaluated by ELISA and Q-PCR, respectively.

Rheumatoid arthritis patients showed significantly lower peripheral blood Treg frequencies compared to healthy individuals. Additionally, Treg (%) showed a significant inverse correlation between serum concentrations of IL-6 and mRNA expression of PBMCs, whereas there was no significant correlation between Treg (%) and TGF-β1 levels.

The current study revealed that Treg numbers were reduced in peripheral blood of RA patients. This reduction inversely correlated with IL-6 levels, which may lead to persistent autoimmune and inflammatory conditions in RA patients.


rheumatoid arthritis, TGF-β1, IL-6, regulatory T cells

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