Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

OBJECTIVE: IL-23 is a pro-inflammatory cytokine proposed to be central to the development of autoimmune disease. We investigated whether IL-23, together with the downstream mediator IL-17A, was present and functional in RA in humans. METHODS: RA synovial cells were cultured in the presence or absence of antibodies directed against IL-23p19 or -23R and -17. IL-23, -12, -17, and their receptors, and IL-6, -1beta and TNF-alpha were measured by ELISA and/or PCR. RESULTS: Small amounts of cell-associated IL-23 (median 110 pg/ml) were detected in RA synovial cultures, and found to be functional as IL-23R blockade resulting in a significant inhibition of TNF-alpha (57%), IL-1beta (51%) and IL-6 (30%). However, there was a considerable variability between individual patient samples, and anti-IL-23p19 was found to be considerably less effective. IL-17A protein was detected in approximately 40% of the supernatants and IL-17A blockade, in IL-17A-producing cultures, resulted in a small but significant inhibition of TNF-alpha (38%), IL-1beta (23%) and IL-6 (22%). Addition of recombinant IL-23 to cultures had a variable effect on the spontaneous production of endogenous IL-17A with enhancement observed in some but not all cultures, suggesting that either the low levels of endogenous IL-23 are sufficient to support cytokine production and/or that the relevant Th17 cells were not present. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that although IL-23 may have pathogenic activity in a proportion of patients with late-stage RA, it is not abundantly produced in this inflammatory tissue, nor does it have a dominant role in all patient tissues analysed.

Original publication




Journal article


Rheumatology (oxford)

Publication Date





1581 - 1589


Adult, Aged, Arthritis, Rheumatoid, Biological Assay, Cells, Cultured, Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay, Female, Gene Expression, Humans, Inflammation Mediators, Interleukin-17, Interleukin-23, Male, Middle Aged, RNA, Messenger, Receptors, Interleukin, Recombinant Proteins, Synovial Membrane