Elevated circulating levels of interferon-γ and interferon-γ-induced chemokines characterise patients with macrophage activation syndrome complicating systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis

Claudia Bracaglia, Kathy de Graaf, Denise Pires Marafon, Florence Guilhot, Walter Ferlin, Giusi Prencipe, Ivan Caiello, Sergio Davì, Grant Schulert, Angelo Ravelli, Alexei A. Grom, Cristina de Min, Fabrizio De Benedetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives Interferon-? (IFN?) is the pivotal mediator in murine models of primary haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (pHLH). Given the similarities between primary and secondary HLH (sec-HLH), including macrophage activation syndrome (MAS), we investigate the involvement of the IFN? pathway in MAS by evaluating levels of IFN? and of the induced chemokines, and their relation with laboratory parameters of MAS in systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (sJIA) patients with MAS and in a murine MAS model. Methods The Luminex multiplexing assay was used to assess serum levels of interleukin (IL)-1ß, IL-6, IFN? and of the IFN?-induced chemokines CXCL9, CXCL10 and CXCL11 in patients with sec-HLH (n=11) and in patients with sJIA (n=54), of whom 20 had active MAS at sampling. Expression of IFN?-induced chemokines was assessed in IL-6 transgenic mice in which MAS is induced by TLR4 stimulation with lipopolysaccharide. Results Levels of IFN? and of IFN?-induced chemokines were markedly elevated during active MAS and sec-HLH and were significantly higher in patients with MAS compared with active sJIA without MAS. Levels in patients with active sJIA without MAS were comparable to those of patients with clinically inactive sJIA. During MAS, ferritin and alanine transferase levels and neutrophil and platelet counts were significantly correlated with serum levels of IFN? and CXCL9. In murine MAS, serum levels of ferritin were significantly correlated with mRNA levels of Cxcl9 in liver and spleen. Conclusions The high levels of IFN? and of IFN?- induced chemokines and their correlation with the severity of laboratory abnormalities of MAS suggest a pivotal role of IFN? in MAS.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnnals of the Rheumatic Diseases
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jun 13 2016


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Allergy

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