OBJECTIVES--To clarify the pathophysiological role of endothelin-1 (ET-1) in the vascular injury associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) by investigating the effect of sera from patients with SLE on ET-1 release from cultured human umbilical vein endothelial cells. METHODS--Confluent monolayers of cultured human umbilical vein endothelial cells were incubated with serum samples (diluted 1:10) from 25 patients with SLE and 16 normal controls for two hours at 37 degrees C and ET-1 concentration in the culture supernatant was measured by enzyme immunoassay. RESULTS--The mean release of ET-1 from endothelial cells in the presence of serum from SLE patients was greater than in the presence of serum from normal controls (p < 0.005). ET-1 release from endothelial cells significantly correlated with the titre of IgM anti-endothelial cell antibodies (IgM-AECA) and immune complex concentration in sera from SLE patients (p < 0.05 and p < 0.01, respectively). After gel chromatography of the serum from an SLE patient, those fractions containing IgM-AECA or immune complex were shown to stimulate ET-1 release from endothelial cells. Heat aggregated IgG also stimulated ET-1 release from endothelial cells in a concentration dependent manner. CONCLUSIONS--IgM-AECA and immune complexes may stimulate ET-1 release from endothelial cells and ET-1 may play an important role in the initiation and development of vascular injury, such as pulmonary hypertension and lupus nephritis, in SLE.
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