Purpose: Patients with VogtïCKoyanagiï CHarada (VKH) disease are known to have severe inflammation after cataract surgery. This study was designed to investigate the role of Interleukin-17-producing T helper (Th17) cell-related pro-inflammatory cytokines on postoperative inflammation in VKH patients.
Methods: Serum from 9 VKH patients and 9 controls with age-related or congenital cataract, was collected before and 1, 7, 30, and 90 days after surgery, and aqueous humor (AqH) at commencement of surgery. Protein levels of IL-23, IL-27, IL-17 and IFN-γ in serum and AqH were measured by ELISA. Laser flare-cell photometer was used to quantify intraocular inflammation.
Results: Serum IL-23 levels were significantly increased in VKH vs. control patients and peaked at 1 day postoperative, decreased rapidly in the first week, then attenuated gradully. In VKH patients, serum levels of IFN-γ were elevated in the first week after surgery and IL-27 was upregulated in the first month. Importantly, serum IL-23 levels were strongly correlated with aqueous flare value (r = 0.689; P = 0.007) and cell counts (r = 0.671; P = 0.01) in VKH vs. control patients.
Conclusions: Our data indicate that serum IL-23 levels are significantly elevated in VKH vs. control patients and strongly associated with postoperative intraocular inflammation.