Bronchoalveoloar lavage fluid cytokines and chemokines as markers and predictors for the outcome of interstitial lung disease in systemic sclerosis patients
This study was designed to investigate the levels of IL-2 and its soluble receptor (sIL-2R) in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) from patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc). We studied 18 patients with SSc and 10 healthy volunteers. Based on high-resolution computed tomography lung scans the patients were divided into two groups, those with (SSc-ILD group, n=10) and those without (SSc group, n=8) evidence of interstitial lung disease (ILD). Both groups showed significantly higher total cell and neutrophil counts in the BALF than controls. The SSc group also showed significantly higher levels of lymphocytes than controls. IL-2 was not detectable in BALF. The patients showed significantly higher levels of sIL-2R than controls (77.8% vs 20%, P=0.005). The median sIL-2R levels detected did not differ between the two patient groups (SSc-ILD 270 pg/ml, SSc 232 pg/ml). This study suggests that SSc patients with or without ILD have elevated levels of sIL-2R in BALF and that in some of these patients this finding could be explained by subclinical pulmonary inflammation.