Background: Neutrophils play an important role in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It has recently been reported that in addition to T helper (Th) 17 cells, other cells, including neutrophils, produce IL-17A, an important inflammatory cytokine involved in the pathogenesis of RA. The purpose of this study was to examine the presence of interleukin 17A-producing neutrophils in patients with RA. Methods: We performed a cross-sectional study including 106 patients with RA and 56 healthy individuals. Whole peripheral blood cells were analyzed by flow cytometry to identify CD66b+ CD177+ IL-17A+ neutrophils and CD3+ CD4+ IL-17A+ T cells. Serum levels of IL-17A and IL-6 were measured by means of cytometry bead array (CBA). In purified neutrophils, mRNA levels of IL-17 and RORγwere measured by RT-PCR. In addition, purified neutrophils from patients and healthy controls were stimulated with the cytokines IL-6 and IL-23 to evaluate differences in their capacity to produce IL-17A. Results: Neutrophils from RA patients expressed IL-17 and RORγmRNA. Consequently, these cells also expressed IL-17A. Serum IL-17A levels but not Th17 cell numbers were increased in RA patients. Neutrophils positive for cytoplasmic IL-17A were more abundant in patients with RA (mean 1.2 ± 3.18%) than in healthy individuals (mean 0.07 ± 0.1%) (p < 0.0001). Although increased IL-17A+ neutrophil numbers were present in RA patients regardless of disease activity (mean 6.5 ± 5.14%), they were more frequent in patients with a more recent diagnosis (mean time after disease onset 3.5 ± 4.24 years). IL-6 and IL-23 induced the expression of RORγbut failed to induce IL-17A expression by neutrophils from RA patients and healthy individuals after a 3 h stimulation. Conclusion: IL-17A-producing neutrophils are increased in some RA patients, which are not related to disease activity but have an increased frequency in patients with recent-onset disease. This finding suggests that IL-17A-producing neutrophils play an early role in the development of RA.
- Rheumatoid arthritis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine