2015 Volume 9 Issue 5 Pages 342-349
Fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 (Flt-3) is a cytokine receptor expressed on the surface of bone-marrow progenitor of hematopoietic cells. Flt-3 ligands are produced by peripheral blood mononuclear cells, and found in various human body fluids. Flt-3 signal is involved in the regulation of vessel formation as well as B cell differentiation, suggesting that Flt-3 signal contributes to the pathogenesis of vascular abnormalities and immune dysregulation in rheumatic diseases. The aim of the present study is to examine serum Flt-3 ligand levels in patients with various rheumatic diseases, and to evaluate the possibility that serum Flt-3 ligand levels can be a useful disease marker. Sera were obtained from 20 dermatomyositis (DM) patients, 36 systemic sclerosis (SSc) patients, 10 systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients, 10 scleroderma spectrum disorder (SSD) patients, 4 mixed connective tissue disease (MCTD) patients, and 12 normal subjects. Flt-3 ligand levels were determined with ELISA. Serum Flt-3 ligand levels were significantly elevated in patients with DM, SSc, SSD and MCTD compared to those in normal subjects. DM patients with elevated Flt-3 ligand levels were accompanied with significantly increased CRP levels and increased frequency of heliotrope rash than those with normal levels. In addition, SSc patients with elevated Flt-3 ligand levels showed significantly reduced frequency of nailfold bleeding. Serum Flt-3 ligand levels can be a marker of cutaneous manifestation in DM and a marker of microangiopathy in SSc. Clarifying the role of Flt-3 ligand in rheumatic diseases may lead to further understanding of these diseases and new therapeutic approaches.