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Extended report
Global chemokine expression in systemic sclerosis (SSc): CCL19 expression correlates with vascular inflammation in SSc skin
  1. Allison L Mathes1,
  2. Romy B Christmann1,
  3. Giuseppina Stifano1,
  4. Alsya J Affandi1,2,
  5. Timothy R D J Radstake1,2,
  6. G Alessandra Farina1,
  7. Cristina Padilla1,
  8. Sarah McLaughlin1,
  9. Robert Lafyatis1
  1. 1Rheumatology Section, Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  2. 2Department of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Dr Robert Lafyatis, Rheumatology Section, Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, E501 Arthritis Center, 72 East Concord Street, Boston, MA, USA; lafyatis{at}


Objective To characterise global chemokine expression in systemic sclerosis (SSc) skin in order to better understand the relationship between chemokine expression and vascular inflammation in this disease.

Methods We investigated chemokine mRNA expression in the skin through quantitative PCR analysis comparing patients with diffuse cutaneous (dcSSc) or limited cutaneous (lcSSc) disease with healthy controls. We tested correlations between the most regulated chemokines and vascular inflammation and macrophage recruitment. CCL19 expression was examined in human primary immune cells treated with innate immune activators.

Results The chemokines, CCL18, CCL19 and CXCL13, were upregulated in dcSSc skin, and CCL18 in lcSSc skin. Expression of CCL19 in dcSSc skin correlated with markers of vascular inflammation and macrophage recruitment. Immunofluorescence data showed CCL19 colocalisation with CD163 macrophages in dcSSc skin. In vitro studies on human primary cells demonstrated that CCL19 expression was induced after toll-like receptor activation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells and separated populations of CD14 monocytes.

Conclusions CCL18, CCL19 and CXCL13—chemoattractants for macrophage and T cell recruitment—were three of six chemokines with the highest expression in dcSSc skin. Increased CCL19 expression in the skin suggests a role for CCL19 in the recruitment of immune cells to the peripheral tissue. Induction of CCL19 in macrophages but not structural cells indicates a role for skin-resident or recruited immune cells in perivascular inflammation. This study demonstrates that CCL19 is a sensitive marker for the perivascular inflammation and immune cell recruitment seen in dcSSc skin disease.

  • Systemic Sclerosis
  • Chemokines
  • Inflammation

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