This study was performed to determine whether the serum concentrations of interleukin (IL)-6 family cytokines are elevated in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and to investigate the relationship between IL-6 family cytokine levels and disease activity in RA patients. Materials and Methods: We obtained serum samples from 40 patients with RA and 40 age- and sex-matched healthy controls, and we assessed the clinical parameters of disease activity, including the 28-joint disease activity score (DAS28) and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels. Serum samples from five patients with high disease activity (DAS28 > 5.1) were also collected at the eighth week of treatment. Serum concentrations of IL-6, IL-11, and leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) were measured using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Results: Serum concentrations of IL-6 family cytokines, including IL-6, IL-11, and LIF, were significantly elevated in patients with RA compared to those of healthy controls. Although there was no significant relationship between IL-6 family cytokine levels and DAS28, the IL-6 levels of patients with RA showed a significant correlation with CRP levels. After eight weeks of medical treatment in patients with high disease activity, a decrease in DAS28 was associated with a significant decrease in the serum concentrations of IL-6 and IL-11. Conclusion: The serum concentrations of IL-6 family cytokines were significantly elevated in patients with RA, and they decreased with medical treatment. These findings suggest a possible role for IL-6 family cytokines in the pathogenesis of RA.
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