Interleukin-6 expression in inflamed and non-inflamed temporal arteries from patients with giant cell arteritis

Nicolo Pipitone, Francesco Muratore, Ione Tamagnini, Alberto Cavazza, Luca Cimino, Luigi Boiardi, Giovanna Restuccia, Stefania Croci, Martina Bonacini, Carlo Salvarani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: To evaluate whether interleukin-6 expression in the temporal arteries could be a more sensitive marker of active inflammation compared to the presence of an inflammatory infiltrate. METHODS: Sixty-three formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded temporal artery biopsies performed between 2009 and 2012 from 32 patients with biopsy-proven giant cell arteritis, 8 patients with a negative biopsy but with a final diagnosis of giant cell arteritis, and 23 controls (patients with an initial clinical suspicion of giant cell arteritis in whom an alternative diagnosis subsequently was made) were examined. Biopsy specimens showing a transmural inflammatory infiltrate were considered positive for giant cell arteritis. Immunochemistry was performed to detect interleukin-6 in the temporal artery specimens. Slides of temporal artery biopsies were independently assessed by five readers. Interleukin-6 expression was graded as 0 (absent), 1 (mild), 2 (moderate) and 3 (marked). We considered anti-IL-6 staining positive if staining was of grade 2 or 3. RESULTS: Temporal artery biopsies specimens from patients with biopsy-proven giant cell arteritis, biopsy-negative giant cell arteritis and controls were positive for anti-interleukin-6 staining in 59%, 13% and 48% of cases, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Interleukin-6 expression does not increase the sensitivity of temporal artery biopsy in patients with giant cell arteritis who have morphologically uninflamed arteries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-103
Number of pages6
JournalClinical and Experimental Rheumatology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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