PROBLEM: Previously we reported on the generation of experimental anti-phospholipid syndrome (APS) in mice. These models were employed to evaluate the efficacy of various novel therapeutic modalities including interleukin-3 (IL-3) and low dose aspirin. The efficacy of the latter was found to be interrelated. Low dose aspirin is capable of inhibiting the activity of the enzyme cyclooxygenase which is responsible for the metabolism of arachidonic acid towards the production of prostaglandins. This shifts the metabolism of arachidonic acid to the other pathway and leads to an overproduction of leukotrienes. The leukotrienes act as stimulators of IL-3 production, a positive cytokine in pregnancy which enhances placental and fetal development. In the current study we evaluated the IL-3 levels in pregnant women with APS and expanded our knowledge on the interrelationships between aspirin, arachidonic acid metabolites and IL-3 in the human system.
METHODS: IL-3 levels were recorded in the serum of pregnant women with APS and compared to a control pregnant group. In addition peripheral blood mononuclear cells from healthy subjects were incubated with different concentrations of aspirin or with arachidonic acid metabolites (Leukotriene B4, C4 or PGE2), and IL-3 production in the culture fluids was evaluated.
RESULTS: Serum level of IL-3 in pregnant patients with primary APS, APS secondary to SLE and SLE was lower in comparison to the control group. The in vitro studies revealed that only low dose aspirin (10 mg/μl) stimulated IL-3 production while higher doses of the drug failed to induce the cytokine generation. Leukotriene B4 and C4 were stimulatory whereas PGE2 acted as inhibitor of IL-3 production.
CONCLUSIONS: The serum level of IL-3 is decreased to pregnant women with primary or secondary APS. Low dose aspirin is capable of stimulating EL-3 production in vitro most probably through an elevation of leukotriene production, which may explain its beneficial activity in preventing the manifestations of APS.