Journal Information
Vol. 19. Issue 5.
Pages 244-248 (May 2023)
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Vol. 19. Issue 5.
Pages 244-248 (May 2023)
Original article
Pro-inflammatory cytokines in patients with low back pain: A comparative study
Citoquinas proinflamatorias en pacientes con dolor lumbar: un estudio comparativo
Maroua Sloumaa,c, Lobna Kharrata,c,
Corresponding author

Corresponding author.
, Aymen Tezegdentib,c, Leila Metouia,c, Ezzeddine Ghazouanib,c, Rim Dhahria,c, Imen Gharsallaha,c, Bassem Louzirc,d
a Department of Rheumatology, Military Hospital, Tunis, Tunisia
b Department of Immunology, Military Hospital, Tunis, Tunisia
c Tunis El Manar University, Tunisia
d Department of Internal Medicine, Military Hospital, Tunis, Tunisia
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Figures (1)
Tables (3)
Table 1. Clinical characteristics of patients.
Table 2. Comparison of the pro-inflammatory cytokines between the two groups.
Table 3. Correlations between clinical parameter and cytokines.
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Introduction and objectives

There are controversial results regarding the value of serum IL-8 and TNFα in patients with non-specific low back pain.

This study aimed to compare pro-inflammatory cytokines between patients with non-specific back pain and pain-free controls.

Materials and methods

We conducted a case–control study including 106 participants: 46 patients with chronic non-specific low back pain (G1) and 60 pain-free controls (G0). The interleukin (IL-)6, IL-8, IL-17, IL-23, IL-22, and Tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) were measured. We collected demographic and clinical data, including age, gender, low back pain duration and radicular pain. The pain degree was assessed using the Visual Analogic Scale.


The mean age was 43.17±8.7 years in G1. Radicular pain was found in 37 cases with a Visual Analogic Scale of 3.03±2.5mm. The magnetic resonance imaging was performed in (G1), showing disk herniation and degenerative disk disease in 54.3% (n=25) and 45.7% of cases (n=21), respectively. The IL-8 was higher in G1 (18.84±44.64 versus 4.34±1.23pg/mL, p:0.033). IL-8 levels correlated with TNFα (0.942, p<10–3), IL-6 (0.490, p=0.011) and Visual Analogic ScaleRadicular-pain (r:0.297, p:0.047).

IL-17 was higher in patients with restricted lumbar spine mobility (9.64±20.77 versus 1.19±2.54pg/mL, p:0.014).


Our results provide evidence that IL-8 and TNFα play a role in low back pain and radicular pain due to disk degeneration or herniation. These findings could potentially be used by future studies to develop new non-specific low back pain therapeutic strategies.

Back pain
Disk herniation
Tumor necrosis factor α
Introducción y objetivos

Existen resultados controvertidos en cuanto al valor de la interleucina (IL) 8 y el factor de necrosis tumoral α (TNFα) séricos en pacientes con lumbalgia inespecífica.

Este estudio tuvo como objetivo comparar las citoquinas proinflamatorias entre pacientes con dolor de espalda inespecífico y controles sin dolor.

Materiales y métodos

Realizamos un estudio de casos y controles que incluyó a 106 participantes: 46 pacientes con dolor lumbar crónico inespecífico (G1) y 60 controles sin dolor (G0). Se midieron las IL-6, IL-8, IL-17, IL-23, IL-22 y el TNFα. Recopilamos datos demográficos y clínicos, incluidos la edad, el sexo, la duración del dolor lumbar y el dolor radicular. El grado de dolor se evaluó mediante la escala analógica visual.


La edad media fue de 43,17±8,7 años en G1. Se encontró dolor radicular en 37 casos con una escala analógica visual de 3,03±2,5mm. La resonancia magnética se realizó en G1, mostrando hernia discal y enfermedad discal degenerativa en el 54,3% (n=25) y el 45,7% de los casos (n=21), respectivamente. La IL-8 fue mayor en G1 (18,84±44,64 versus 4,34±1,23pg/ml, p=0,033). Los niveles de IL-8 se correlacionaron con TNFα (0,942, p<10−3), IL-6 (0,490, p=0,011) y escala visual analógicadolor radicular (r=0,297, p=0,047).

IL-17 fue mayor en pacientes con movilidad restringida de la columna lumbar (9,64±20,77 versus 1,19±2,54pg/ml, p=0,014).


Nuestros resultados proporcionan evidencia de que la IL-8 y el TNFα juegan un papel en el dolor lumbar y en el dolor radicular debido a la degeneración o a hernia discal. Estos hallazgos podrían potencialmente ser utilizados por estudios futuros para desarrollar nuevas estrategias terapéuticas no específicas para el dolor lumbar.

Palabras clave:
Dolor de espalda
Hernia discal
Interleucina 8
Factor de necrosis tumoral α
Interleucina 17


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