To analyze the expression and potential role of interleukin (IL) 21 in the pathogenesis of Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada (VKH) disease.
Blood samples were obtained from patients with VKH disease and from healthy control subjects. Serum IL-21 level and IL-21 messenger RNA (mRNA) expression by peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and by reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction, respectively. Interleukin 17 and interferon γ levels in the supernatants of PBMCs and CD4+ T cells cultured with anti-CD3 and anti-CD28 antibodies in the presence or absence of recombinant IL-21 were detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
The results showed a significantly increased serum IL-21 level, as well as higher IL-21 mRNA expression by PBMCs, in patients having chronic or recurrent active VKH disease compared with patients having inactive VKH disease and with controls. In vitro experiments showed that recombinant IL-21 significantly increased IL-17 production by PBMCs and by CD4+ T cells from patients and from controls. However, recombinant IL-21 did not affect interferon γ expression by PBMCs or by CD4+ T cells.
Interleukin 21 may be involved in the pathogenesis of chronic or recurrent VKH disease, possibly by promoting IL-17 secretion.
Findings from the present study suggest that IL-21 may be a potential target in the development of therapy for VKH disease.