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Serum interleukin-6 is elevated in symptomatic carotid bifurcation disease

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Koutouzis M, Rallidis LS, Peros G, Nomikos A, Tzavara V, Barbatis C, Andrikopoulos V, Vassiliou J, Kyriakides ZS. Serum interleukin-6 is elevated in symptomatic carotid bifurcation disease.

Acta Neurol Scand 2009: 119: 119–125.

© 2008 The Authors Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Munksgaard. Introduction – 

The levels of circulating proinflammatory cytokines may express the extent of the inflammatory response and their participation in plaque progression and rupture needs to be evaluated. We aimed to investigate differences in circulating levels of proinflammatory cytokines and in plaque infiltration by macrophages between patients undergoing carotid endarterectomy for symptomatic and asymptomatic carotid atherosclerotic disease. Methods – 

One hundred nineteen patients (91 men and 28 women; mean age 66 ± 8 years; range 42–83 years) who underwent carotid endarterectomy for significant (>70%) carotid bifurcation stenosis were enrolled in this study. Patients were characterized as symptomatic (n = 62) or asymptomatic (n = 57) after neurological examination. Serum levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), IL-1β, serum amyloid A (SAA), and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) were evaluated. Macrophage infiltration of the plaque was assessed quantitatively from endarterectomy specimens using the monoclonal antibody CD68. Results – 

Serum IL-6 levels were significantly higher in patients with symptomatic compared with those with asymptomatic carotid disease (3.3 [2.0–6.5] pg/ml vs 2.5 [1.9–4.1] pg/ml, P = 0.02). TNF-α, IL-1β, SAA, and hs-CRP levels did not differ significantly between the two groups. Symptomatic patients had also more intense macrophage accumulation in the carotid plaque compared with asymptomatic patients (0.6 ± 0.1% vs 0.4 ± 0.1%, P < 0.001). Although there were correlations between the levels of the different inflammatory markers, there were no correlation between any of them and the extent of plaque macrophage infiltration. Conclusion – 

Patients with symptomatic carotid atherosclerotic disease have elevated serum IL-6 levels compared with asymptomatic patients. Symptomatic patients have also more intense macrophage infiltration of the atherosclerotic plaque suggesting that inflammatory process may contribute to the destabilization of the carotid plaque.
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Keywords: carotid disease; inflammation; interleukin-6; stroke

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Red Cross General Hospital 2: Attikon University Hospital 3: Aretaieion University Hospital, Athens, Greece

Publication date: 2009-02-01

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