Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is an autoimmune disorder characterized by excessive extracellular matrix deposition. Although SSc-associated interstitial lung disease (ILD) is one of the most important complications as a cause of death in SSc, prediction factors of treatment reactivity in SSc-ILD are still unclear. To assess relationships between interleukin (IL)-6 and reactivity to treatment, we measured serum IL-6 levels in 23 of active SSc-ILD patients under i.v. cyclophosphamide (IVCY) therapy and 20 of stabilized SSc-ILD, using the high-sensitivity enzyme-linked immunoassay system. Serum IL-6 levels in active SSc-ILD patients were significantly higher than those in stabilized SSc-ILD patients. Among active SSc-ILD patients, baseline serum IL-6 levels were not significantly different between IVCY responders and non-responders. Meanwhile, serum IL-6 levels after three IVCY doses out of a total of six were decreased in responders but not in non-responders. Regarding changes of parameters by the three doses of a total of six of IVCY, change in serum IL-6 levels correlated inversely with that in values of pulmonary function test. Thus, the rapid decrease in serum IL-6 levels during a couple of doses may predict the efficacy of IVCY therapy against SSc-ILD.
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