Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by synovial inflammation and destruction of joint cartilage and bone. Different cytokines play important role in the processes that cause articular destruction and extra-articular manifestations in RA. The contribution of cytokines representing the Th1 (INF-γ), Th2 (IL-4) and IL-17A to the pathogenesis of early RA and bone mineral density (BMD) loss in still poorly understood. Serum samples of 38 early RA patients were evaluated for erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), rheumatoid factor (RF), C-reactive protein (CRP), anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies (anti-CCP) and for the tested cytokines (IL-17A, IL-4 and INF-γ). BMD was evaluated by dualenergyX-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Disease activity score (DAS28) calculation was assessed for all patients. Control serum samples were obtained from 34 healthy volunteers. The levels of tested cytokines were significantly higher (IL-17A, p<0.001; INF-γ, P<0.001; IL-4, P<0.01) in patients with early RA, compared to the healthy controls. In early RA patients, strong correlation of serum IL-17A was found with DAS28, ESR and CRP. Also, a significant negative correlation was found between serum INF-γ levels and the DAS28 score. Significantly positive correlation of BMD values and CRP, DAS28 IL-17A were also demonstrated. DXA analysis revealed that the most common site for osteoporosis was the lumbar spine followed by the femoral neck. BMD values significantly correlated with CRP, DAS28 score and IL-17A serum levels. The mean serum IL-17A levels, in patients with early RA, corresponded with disease activity, severity and BMD loss, indicating the potential usefulness of serum IL-17A in defining the disease activity and bone remodeling.
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