OBJECTIVES--To determine whether fibroblasts from patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc) produce excessive amounts of endothelin-1 (ET-1), which is recognised as having vasoconstrictive properties and as having a potent mitogenic effect on fibroblasts. METHODS--Dermal fibroblasts were removed from 11 patients with SSc and from five normal controls (NC). The assay of ET-1 protein was measured by an ELISA that used two anti-ET-1 antibodies. The gene expression of prepro ET-1 mRNA was evaluated by a reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) method. RESULTS--Levels of ET-1 protein were significantly higher in SSc fibroblast cultures than in those of normal fibroblasts (p < 0.01). The expression of prepro ET-1 mRNA was also higher in SSc fibroblasts than in normal fibroblasts. The addition of interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 beta) increased the production of ET-1 by fibroblasts. CONCLUSION--The findings indicate that the overproduction of ET-1 is a novel abnormal function in SSc fibroblasts, and that ET-1 induced by fibroblasts may play a role in the fibrosis and Raynaud's phenomenon of SSc.
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