Vitiligo is a skin disorder with melanocyte destruction and an autoimmune basis. Given the importance of cytokines in autoimmunity, we aimed to find the cytokine profile of innate and adaptive immunity in vitiligo patients, and correlate them with clinical parameters. The serum levels of innate immunity [interleukin(IL)-1α, IL-1β, IL-6, IL-8, IL-12, IL-15 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α] and T helper(Th)1 [IL-2, interferon (IFN)-γ, TNF-β], Th2 (IL-4, IL-5, IL-10, IL-13) and Th17 (IL-17, IL-23) cytokines in 44 vitiligo patients were measured by multiplex cytokine assay and compared with 44 healthy subjects. All innate immunity (p < 0.04), Th1 (p < 0.01), Th2 (p < 0.05) and Th17 (p < 0.001) cytokines were higher in patients than controls. Total summation levels of innate immunity and adaptive immunity cytokines showed a remarkable up-regulation in the patients (p < 0.0001). The ratio of innate immunity to Th1 (p = 0.03), Th2 (p = 0.01) and Th17 (p = 0.03) cytokines was significantly higher in patients vs. controls. We found significant higher ratio of Th1 to Th2 cytokines and TNF-β elevated levels in patients with a family history of autoimmunity (p < 0.05). IL-4 and IL-13 (p < 0.04) levels were lower in patients with amelanotic hair. Increased IL-10 level was observed in patients with stable disease (p = 0.02).
In conclusion, the profile of cytokines in patients showed a dominant role of innate immunity pro-inflammatory cytokines in vitiligo, which suggests the potential of targeting these cytokines for vitiligo treatment. While a higher ratio of Th1/Th2 cytokines was observed in the patients, association of decreased Th2 cytokines with disease complications suggests a protective role for Th2 pathway.
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The authors of the paper would like to thank Mrs. Neda Kamali for her help in data entry and Dr. Eskandar Kamali-sarvestani for his support with this project. Shiraz University of Medical Sciences provided financial support for this study (Grant Numbers: 17-16022 and 17-16041).
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Gholijani, N., Yazdani, M. & Dastgheib, L. Predominant role of innate pro-inflammatory cytokines in vitiligo disease. Arch Dermatol Res 312, 123–131 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00403-019-01996-9
- Innate immunity
- Cytokine profiles
- Vitiligo disease