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The diagnostic significance of soluble CD163 and soluble interleukin-2 receptor alpha-chain in macrophage activation syndrome and untreated new-onset systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Arthritis Rheum 2007 Mar;56(3):965-71



Pubmed ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-33947158702   212 Citations


OBJECTIVE: Macrophage activation syndrome is characterized by an overwhelming inflammatory reaction driven by excessive expansion of T cells and hemophagocytic macrophages. Levels of soluble interleukin-2 receptor alpha (sIL-2Ralpha) and soluble CD163 (sCD163) may reflect the degree of activation and expansion of T cells and macrophages, respectively. This study was undertaken to assess the value of serum sIL-2Ralpha and sCD163 in diagnosing acute macrophage activation syndrome complicating systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).

METHODS: Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was used to assess sIL-2Ralpha and sCD163 levels in sera from 7 patients with acute macrophage activation syndrome complicating systemic JIA and 16 patients with untreated new-onset systemic JIA. The results were correlated with clinical features of established macrophage activation syndrome, including ferritin levels.

RESULTS: The median level of sIL-2Ralpha in the patients with macrophage activation syndrome was 19,646 pg/ml (interquartile range [IQR] 18,128), compared with 3,787 pg/ml (IQR 3,762) in patients with systemic JIA (P = 0.003). Similarly, the median level of sCD163 in patients with macrophage activation syndrome was 23,000 ng/ml (IQR 14,191), compared with 5,480 ng/ml (IQR 2,635) in patients with systemic JIA (P = 0.017). In 5 of 16 patients with systemic JIA, serum levels of sIL-2Ralpha or sCD163 were comparable with those in patients with acute macrophage activation syndrome. These patients had high inflammatory activity associated with a trend toward lower hemoglobin levels (P = 0.11), lower platelet counts, and significantly higher ferritin levels (P = 0.02). Two of these 5 patients developed overt macrophage activation syndrome several months later.

CONCLUSION: Levels of sIL-2Ralpha and sCD163 are promising diagnostic markers for macrophage activation syndrome. They may also help identify patients with subclinical macrophage activation syndrome.

Author List

Bleesing J, Prada A, Siegel DM, Villanueva J, Olson J, Ilowite NT, Brunner HI, Griffin T, Graham TB, Sherry DD, Passo MH, Ramanan AV, Filipovich A, Grom AA


Judyann C. Olson MD Associate Professor in the Pediatrics department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Antigens, CD
Antigens, Differentiation, Myelomonocytic
Arthritis, Juvenile
Cell Proliferation
Child, Preschool
Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit
Macrophage Activation
Prospective Studies
Receptors, Cell Surface
jenkins-FCD Prod-480 9a4deaf152b0b06dd18151814fff2e18f6c05280