Sinterleukin 23 levels are increased in carotid atherosclerosis possible role for the interleukin 23/interleukin 17 axis

  • Abbas A
  • Gregersen I
  • Holm S
 et al. 
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BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Interleukin (IL)-23 is a cytokine in the IL-12 family, mainly produced by antigen-presenting cells with a central role in inflammation. We hypothesize that IL-23 is also important in atherogenesis and investigate this in a population with carotid atherosclerosis. METHODS: Plasma levels of IL-23 were measured in patients with carotid artery stenosis and in healthy controls. The mRNA levels of IL-23 and its receptor, IL-23R, were measured in atherosclerotic plaques, nonatherosclerotic vessels, peripheral blood mononuclear cells, and plasmacytoid dendritic cells. RESULTS: Our findings were as follows: (1) patients with carotid atherosclerosis (n=177) had significantly raised plasma levels of IL-23 when compared with healthy controls (n=24) with particularly high levels in those with the most recent symptoms. (2) mRNA levels of IL-23 and IL-23R were markedly increased in carotid plaques (n=68) when compared with nonatherosclerotic vessels (n=8-10). Immunostaining showed colocalization to plaque macrophages. (3) Patients with carotid atherosclerosis had increased mRNA levels of both IL-23 and IL-23R in plasmacytoid dendritic cells, but not in peripheral blood mononuclear cells. (4) IL-23 increased IL-17 release in monocytes and particularly in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from patients with carotid atherosclerosis, but not in cells from healthy controls. (5) IL-23 gave a prominent tumor necrosis factor release in monocytes from patients with carotid atherosclerosis but not in cells from healthy controls. (6) High plasma levels of IL-23 were associated with increased mortality during follow-up. CONCLUSIONS: We have shown an association between IL-23 and disease progression in patients with carotid atherosclerosis, potentially involving IL-17-related mechanisms.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Carotid stenosis
  • Inflammation
  • Interleukins

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  • Azhar Abbas

  • Ida Gregersen

  • Sverre Holm

  • Isabelle Daissormont

  • Vigdis Bjerkeli

  • Kirsten Krohg-Sørensen

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