“We have been looking for predictive biomarkers and novel therapeutic targets,” he continues. “We postulated that inflammatory cytokines might predict the course of ILD. [And] with this research, we have demonstrated for the first time that CCL2 levels in the circulation [do predict] faster long-term decline.”
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Previous experimental studies pointing to CCL2 as possibly correlated with the ILD severity used an animal model to reflect human disease, with murine sclerodermatous growth-vs.-host disease approximating the inflammation found in a subset of scleroderma, and with gene expression in skin transcript biopsy samples as an alternative to obtaining lung samples.2,3
The new findings provide further support for CCL2 as a research target, the authors conclude. Higher CCL2 levels in the circulation, after adjusting for other potential biomarkers, do predict faster ILD progression and poorer survival, supporting the notion CCL2 plays a role as a biomarker and may be a therapeutic target, Dr. Assassi says.
Predictive biomarkers can lead to more effective and individualized monitoring and treatment strategies, making it possible to more closely monitor SSc patients for progression of disease and potentially treat their disease more aggressively.
Larry Beresford is a freelance medical journalist in Oakland, Calif.
- Wu M, Baron M, Pedroza C, et al. CCL2 in the circulation predicts long-term progression of interstitial lung disease in patients with early systemic sclerosis: Data from two independent cohorts. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2017 Sep;69(9):1871–1878.
- Greenblatt MB, Sargent JL, Farina G, et al. Interspecies comparison of human and murine scleroderma reveals IL-13 and CCL2 as disease subset-specific targets. Am J Pathol. 2012 Mar;180(3):1080–1094.
- Assassi S, Wu M, Tan FK, et al. Skin gene expression correlates of severity of interstitial lung disease in systemic sclerosis. Arthritis Rheum. 2013 Nov;65(11):2917–2927.