The objectives of this study were to examine the serum levels of interleukin (IL)-37 and its clinical association in patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS) and to investigate whether or not IL-37 participates in the regulation of the pathogenesis of pSS. ELISA was used to analyse the serum levels of IL-37, total IL-18 and IL-18 binding protein (IL-18BP). The level of free IL-18 was calculated based on the mass action law. The correlations between the IL-37 serum levels with the laboratory values and the total IL-18 and IL-18BP serum levels were analyzed by a Spearman's correlation test. The serum levels of IL-37 in the patients with pSS were significantly increased compared with the healthy controls (HCs). The levels were especially elevated in the patients with pSS with positive anti-Ro/SSA and/or anti-La/SSB antibodies. Furthermore, the patients with pSS showed high serum levels of total IL-18, free IL-18 and IL-18BP compared with the HCs. Strikingly, the IL-37 levels were significantly positively correlated with the antibody levels in the patients with pSS, including rheumatoid factor, anti-Ro/SSA, and anti-La/SSB and the total IL-18 and IL-18BP serum levels. The serum levels of IL-37, which were correlated with antibody production and the serum levels of total IL-18 and IL-18BP, were elevated in the patients with pSS. IL-37, an important anti-inflammatory cytokine, may participate in the regulation of the pathogenesis of pSS.
Contributors WL contributed to experiment test and article writing. XL was involved in data analysis and article writing. SH and LJ were involved in experimental design.
Funding China National Science Foundation (No.81202347).
Competing interests None declared.
Ethics approval The Ethics Committee of China Medical University.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.