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Open Access Research article

Expression of tumor necrosis factor-like weak inducer of apoptosis and fibroblast growth factor-inducible 14 in patients with polymyositis and dermatomyositis

Qing-Lin Peng12, Xiao-Ming Shu1, Xiao-Lan Tian1, Xin Lu1 and Guo-Chun Wang12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Rheumatology, China-Japan Friendship Hospital, Ying Hua East Road, Chao Yang District, Beijing 100029, China

2 Graduate School of Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, China

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2014, 16:R26  doi:10.1186/ar4454

Published: 27 January 2014

Abstract

Introduction

The aim of this study was to investigate the expression of tumor necrosis factor-like weak inducer of apoptosis (TWEAK) and its receptor fibroblast growth factor-inducible 14 (Fn14) in patients with polymyositis (PM) and dermatomyositis (DM), and their relation to clinical manifestations.

Methods

Serum levels of TWEAK were detected in 98 PM/DM patients and 37 healthy controls by using the ELISA method. Total RNA isolated from fresh-frozen muscle tissue samples of 36 PM/DM patients and 10 healthy controls were used for analyzing the mRNA levels of TWEAK and Fn14 by quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Immunofluorescence staining of TWEAK and Fn14 was conducted on muscle biopsy specimens from 23 PM/DM patients and seven healthy controls.

Results

Serum levels of TWEAK were significantly decreased in the PM/DM patients compared to those in the healthy controls (P < 0.001), and serum TWEAK levels negatively correlated with serum CD163 levels in PM/DM patients (r = -0.49, P < 0.001). The expression of Fn14 mRNA was significantly increased in the muscle tissue of PM/DM patients than in the muscle tissue of healthy controls (P < 0.01), whereas the expression of TWEAK mRNA in PM/DM patients was not statistically different from that of the healthy controls (P > 0.05). Fn14 mRNA levels in muscle tissue positively correlated with muscle disease activity (r = 0.512, P < 0.01). Patients with oropharyngeal dysphagia had significantly higher Fn14 mRNA levels than patients without oropharyngeal dysphagia (P < 0.05). The results of immunofluorescence staining showed that 19 out of 23 PM/DM patients were TWEAK-positive, and 20 out of 23 PM/DM patients were Fn14-positive. No detectable expressions of TWEAK or Fn14 were observed in the healthy controls.

Conclusions

TWEAK-Fn14 axis may be involved in the pathogenesis of PM/DM. Further understanding of TWEAK-Fn14 function in PM/DM may help to define therapeutic targets for PM/DM.