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1.  Macrophage-derived, Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor (MIF) is Necessary to Induce Disease in the K/BxN Serum-induced Model of Arthritis 
Rheumatology international  2013;33(9):2301-2308.
Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) is an immunoregulatory cytokine that is produced by different inflammatory and immune cell types. MIF exerts activating responses on many cellular targets, and it is expressed within the rheumatoid synovium as well as in experimental models of disease. Immunoneutralization of MIF decreases joint destruction in the collagen-induced, rat adjuvant-induced, and antigen-induced models of arthritis.
MIF deficient mice were used to induce arthritis by serum transfer from K/BxN mice. Macrophage transfers were done to investigate the specific role of macrophage derived MIF. Arthritis was evaluated by histological analysis, ankle swelling and clinical index and cytokine measurements. The present study was undertaken to investigate the immunopathologic role of MIF in the K/BxN serum-induced model of arthritis, which is critically dependent on innate pathways of joint destruction. We show first that MIF is essential for disease development as both joint inflammation and cartilage destruction are significantly reduced in MIF-deficient (MIF−/−) versus wild-type mice. The adoptive transfer of wild-type macrophages into MIF−/− mice restored the sensitivity of MIF−/− mice to arthritis development, and this affect was associated with a restoration in serum IL-1β and IL-6 production. These results indicate that MIF plays a critical role in inflammation and joint destruction in K/BxN serum-induced arthritis and that the systemic expression of MIF by a subpopulation of macrophages is necessary and sufficient for the full development of arthritis.
PMCID: PMC3759410  PMID: 23503937
Macrophage; Fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS); Cytokine; Macrophage migration inhibitory factor; Rheumatoid arthritis
2.  The effects of 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 on matrix metalloproteinase and prostaglandin E2 production by cells of the rheumatoid lesion 
Arthritis Research  1999;1(1):63-70.
The biologically active metabolite of vitamin D3, 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1α,25(OH)2D3], acts through vitamin D receptors, which were found in rheumatoid tissues in the present study. IL-1β-activated rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts and human articular chondrocytes were shown to respond differently to exposure to 1α,25(OH)2D3, which has different effects on the regulatory pathways of specific matrix metalloproteinases and prostaglandin E2.
1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1α,25(OH)2D3], the biologically active metabolite of vitamin D3, acts through an intracellular vitamin D receptor (VDR) and has several immunostimulatory effects. Animal studies have shown that production of some matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) may be upregulated in rat chondrocytes by administration of 1α,25(OH)2D3; and cell cultures have suggested that 1α,25(OH)2D3 may affect chondrocytic function. Discoordinate regulation by vitamin D of MMP-1 and MMP-9 in human mononuclear phagocytes has also been reported. These data suggest that vitamin D may regulate MMP expression in tissues where VDRs are expressed. Production of 1α,25(OH)2D3 within synovial fluids of arthritic joints has been shown and VDRs have been found in rheumatoid synovial tissues and at sites of cartilage erosion. The physiological function of 1α,25(OH)2D3 at these sites remains obscure. MMPs play a major role in cartilage breakdown in the rheumatoid joint and are produced locally by several cell types under strict control by regulatory factors. As 1α,25(OH)2D3 modulates the production of specific MMPs and is produced within the rheumatoid joint, the present study investigates its effects on MMP and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) production in two cell types known to express chondrolytic enzymes.
To investigate VDR expression in rheumatoid tissues and to examine the effects of 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 on cultured rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts (RSFs) and human articular chondrocytes (HACs) with respect to MMP and PGE2 production.
Rheumatoid synovial tissues were obtained from arthroplasty procedures on patients with late-stage rheumatoid arthritis; normal articular cartilage was obtained from lower limb amputations. Samples were embedded in paraffin, and examined for presence of VDRs by immunolocalisation using a biotinylated antibody and alkaline-phosphatase-conjugated avidin-biotin complex system. Cultured synovial fibroblasts and chondrocytes were treated with either 1α,25(OH)2D3, or interleukin (IL)-1β or both. Conditioned medium was assayed for MMP and PGE2 by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and the results were normalised relative to control values.
The rheumatoid synovial tissue specimens (n = 18) immunostained for VDRs showed positive staining but at variable distributions and in no observable pattern. VDR-positive cells were also observed in association with some cartilage-pannus junctions (the rheumatoid lesion). MMP production by RSFs in monolayer culture was not affected by treatment with 1α,25(OH)2D3 alone, but when added simultaneously with IL-1β the stimulation by IL-1β was reduced from expected levels by up to 50%. In contrast, 1α,25(OH)2D3 had a slight stimulatory effect on basal production of MMPs 1 and 3 by monolayer cultures of HACs, but stimulation of MMP-1 by IL-1β was not affected by the simultaneous addition of 1α,25(OH)2D3 whilst MMP-3 production was enhanced (Table 1). The production of PGE2 by RSFs was unaffected by 1α,25(OH)2D3 addition, but when added concomitantly with IL-1β the expected IL-1 β-stimulated increase was reduced to almost basal levels. In contrast, IL-1β stimulation of PGE2 in HACs was not affected by the simultaneous addition of 1α,25(OH)2D3 (Table 2). Pretreatment of RSFs with 1α,25(OH)2D3 for 1 h made no significant difference to IL-1β-induced stimulation of PGE2, but incubation for 16 h suppressed the expected increase in PGE2 to control values. This effect was also noted when 1α,25(OH)2D3 was removed after the 16h and the IL-1 added alone. Thus it appears that 1α,25(OH)2D3 does not interfere with the IL-1β receptor, but reduces the capacity of RSFs to elaborate PGE2 after IL-1β induction.
Cells within the rheumatoid lesion which expressed VDR were fibroblasts, macrophages, lymphocytes and endothelial cells. These cells are thought to be involved in the degradative processes associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), thus providing evidence of a functional role of 1α,25(OH)2D3 in RA. MMPs may play important roles in the chondrolytic processes of the rheumatoid lesion and are known to be produced by both fibroblasts and chondrocytes. The 1α,25(OH)2D3 had little effect on basal MMP production by RSFs, although more pronounced differences were noted when IL-1β-stimulated cells were treated with 1α,25(OH)2D3, with the RSF and HAC showing quite disparate responses. These opposite effects may be relevant to the processes of joint destruction, especially cartilage loss, as the ability of 1α,25(OH)2D3 to potentiate MMP-1 and MMP-3 expression by 'activated' chondrocytes might facilitate intrinsic cartilage chondrolysis in vivo. By contrast, the MMP-suppressive effects observed for 1α,25(OH)2D3 treatment of 'activated' synovial fibroblasts might reduce extrinsic chondrolysis and also matrix degradation within the synovial tissue. Prostaglandins have a role in the immune response and inflammatory processes associated with RA. The 1α,25(OH)2D3 had little effect on basal PGE2 production by RSF, but the enhanced PGE2 production observed following IL-1β stimulation of these cells was markedly suppressed by the concomitant addition of 1α,25(OH)2D3. As with MMP production, there are disparate effects of 1α,25(OH)2D3 on IL-1β stimulated PGE2 production by the two cell types; 1α,25(OH)2D3 added concomitantly with IL-1β had no effect on PGE2 production by HACs. In summary, the presence of VDRs in the rheumatoid lesion demonstrates that 1α,25(OH)2D3 may have a functional role in the joint disease process. 1α,25(OH)2D3 does not appear to directly affect MMP or PGE2 production but does modulate cytokine-induced production.
Comparative effects of 1 α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1 α,25D3) on interleukin (IL)-1-stimulated matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-1 and MMP-3 production by rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts and human articular chondrocytes in vivo
Data given are normalized relative to control values and are expressed ± SEM for three cultures of each cell type.
Comparative effects of 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1α,25D3) on Interleukin (IL)-1-stimulated prostaglandin E2 production by rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts and human articular chondrocyte in vivo
Data given are normalized relative to control values and are expressed ± SEM for three cultures of each cell type.
PMCID: PMC17774  PMID: 11056661
1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3; matrix metalloproteinase; prostaglandin E2; rheumatoid arthritis
3.  Induction of Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor in ConA-Stimulated Rheumatoid Arthritis Synovial Fibroblasts through the P38 MAP Kinase-Dependent Signaling Pathway 
This study was undertaken to identify the intracellular signaling pathway involved in induction of macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) in human rheumatoid arthritis (RA) synovial fibroblasts.
Human RA synovial fibroblasts were treated with concanavalin A (ConA), various cytokines, and inhibitors of signal transduction molecules. The production of MIF by synovial fibroblasts was measured in culture supernatants by ELISA. The expression of MIF mRNA was determined using reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and real-time PCR. Phosphorylation of p38 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase in synovial fibroblasts was confirmed using Western blotting. The expression of MIF and p38 MAP kinase in RA synovium was determined using dual immunohistochemistry.
The production of MIF by RA synovial fibroblasts increased in a dose-dependent manner after ConA stimulation. MIF was also induced by interferon-γ, CD40 ligand, interleukin-15, interleukin-1β, tumor necrosis factor-α, and transforming growth factor-β. The production of MIF by RA synovial fibroblasts was significantly reduced after inhibition of p38 MAP kinase. The expression of MIF and p38 MAP kinase was upregulated in the RA synovium compared with the osteoarthritis synovium.
These results suggest that MIF production was induced through a p38 MAP-kinase-dependent pathway in RA synovial fibroblasts.
PMCID: PMC2932946  PMID: 20830230
Macrophage, migration-inhibitory factors; Arthritis rheumatoid; Synovial fibroblast; p38 mitogen-activated protein kinases
4.  Involvement of MIF in Basement Membrane Damage in Chronically UVB-Exposed Skin in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89569.
Solar ultraviolet (UV) B radiation is known to induce matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) that degrade collagen in the basement membrane. Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) is a pluripotent cytokine that plays an essential role in the pathophysiology of skin inflammation induced by UV irradiation. This study examined the effects of MIF on basement membrane damage following chronic UVB irradiation in mice. The back skin of MIF transgenic (Tg) and wild-type (WT) mice was exposed to UVB three times a week for 10 weeks. There was a decrease in intact protein levels of type IV collagen and increased basement membrane damage in the exposed skin of the MIF Tg mice compared to that observed in the WT mice. Moreover, the skin of the MIF Tg mice exhibited higher MIF, MMP-2 and MMP-9 expression and protein levels than those observed in the WT mice. We also found that chronic UVB exposure in MIF Tg mice resulted in higher levels of neutrophil infiltration in the dermis compared with that observed in the WT mice. In vitro experiments revealed that MIF induced increases in the MMPs expression, including that of MMP-9 in keratinocytes and MMP-2 in fibroblasts. Cultured neutrophils also secreted MMP-9 stimulated by MIF. Therefore, MIF-mediated basement membrane damage occurs primarily through MMPs activation and neutrophil influx in murine skin following chronic UVB irradiation.
PMCID: PMC3931804  PMID: 24586879
5.  Active synovial matrix metalloproteinase-2 is associated with radiographic erosions in patients with early synovitis 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(2):145-153.
Serum and synovial tissue expression of the matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 and -9 and their molecular regulators, MMP-14 and TIMP-2 was examined in 28 patients with inflammatory early synovitis and 4 healthy volunteers and correlated with the presence of erosions in the patients. Immunohistological staining of MMP-2, MMP-14 and TIMP-2 localized to corresponding areas in the synovial lining layer and was almost absent in normal synovium. Patients with radiographic erosions had significantly higher levels of active MMP-2 than patients with no erosions, suggesting that activated MMP-2 levels in synovial tissue may be a marker for a more aggressive synovial lesion.
In cancer the gelatinases [matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 and MMP-9] have been shown to be associated with tissue invasion and metastatic disease. In patients with inflammatory arthritis the gelatinases are expressed in the synovial membrane, and have been implicated in synovial tissue invasion into adjacent cartilage and bone. It is hypothesized that an imbalance between the activators and inhibitors of the gelatinases results in higher levels of activity, enhanced local proteolysis, and bone erosion.
To determine whether the expression and activity levels of MMP-2 and MMP-9, and their regulators MMP-14 and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase (TIMP), are associated with early erosion formation in patients with synovitis of recent onset.
Patients and method:
A subset of 66 patients was selected from a larger early synovitis cohort on the basis of tissue availability for the study of synovial tissue and serum gelatinase expression. Patients with peripheral joint synovitis of less than 1 years' duration were evaluated clinically and serologically on four visits over a period of 12 months. At the initial visit, patients underwent a synovial tissue biopsy of one swollen joint, and patients had radiographic evaluation of hands and feet initially and at 1year. Serum MMP-1, MMP-2, MMP-9, MMP-14, and TIMP-1 and TIMP-2 levels were determined, and synovial tissue was examined by immunohistology for the expression of MMP-2 and MMP-9, and their molecular regulators. Gelatinolytic activity for MMP-2 and MMP-9 was quantified using a sensitive, tissue-based gel zymography technique. Four healthy individuals underwent closed synovial biopsy and their synovial tissues were similarly analyzed.
Of the 66 patients studied, 45 fulfilled American College of Rheumatology criteria for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), with 32 (71%) being rheumatoid factor positive. Of the 21 non-RA patients, seven had a spondylarthropathy and 14 had undifferentiated arthritis. Radiographically, 12 of the RA patients had erosions at multiple sites by 1 year, whereas none of the non-RA patients had developed erosive disease of this extent. In the tissue, latent MMP-2 was widely expressed in the synovial lining layer and in areas of stromal proliferation in the sublining layer and stroma, whereas MMP-9 was expressed more sparsely and focally. MMP-14, TIMP-2, and MMP-2 were all detected in similar areas of the lining layer on consecutive histologic sections. Tissue expression of MMP-14, the activator for pro-MMP-2, was significantly higher in RA than in non-RA patients (8.4 ± 5 versus 3.7 ± 4 cells/high-power field; P = 0.009). In contrast, the expression of TIMP-2, an inhibitor of MMP-2, was lower in the RA than in the non-RA samples (25 ± 12 versus 39 ± 9 cells/high-power field; P = 0.01). Synovial tissue expressions of MMP-2, MMP-14, and TIMP-2 were virtually undetectable in normal synovial tissue samples. The synovial tissue samples of patients with erosive disease had significantly higher levels of active MMP-2 than did those of patients without erosions (Fig. 1). Tissue expression of MMP-2 and MMP-9, however, did not correlate with the serum levels of these enzymes.
With the exception of serum MMP-2, which was not elevated over normal, serum levels of all of the other MMPs and TIMPs were elevated to varying degrees, and were not predictive of erosive disease. Interestingly, MMP-1 and C-reactive protein, both of which were associated with the presence of erosions, were positively correlated with each other (r = 0.42; P < 0.001).
MMP-2 and MMP-9 are thought to play an important role in the evolution of joint erosions in patients with an inflammatory arthritis. Most studies have concentrated on the contribution of MMP-9 to the synovitis, because synovial fluid and serum MMP-9 levels are markedly increased in inflammatory arthropathies. Previously reported serum levels of MMP-9 have varied widely. In the present sample of patients with synovitis of recent onset, serum MMP-9 levels were elevated in only 21%. Moreover, these elevations were not specific for RA, the tissue expression of MMP-9 was focal, and the levels of MMP-9 activity were not well correlated with early erosions. Although serum MMP-2 levels were not of prognostic value, high synovial tissue levels of MMP-2 activity were significantly correlated with the presence of early erosions. This may reflect augmented activation of MMP-2 by the relatively high levels of MMP-14 and low levels of TIMP-2 seen in these tissues. We were able to localize the components of this trimolecular complex to the synovial lining layer in consecutive tissue sections, a finding that is consistent with their colocalization.
In conclusion, we have provided evidence that active MMP-2 complexes are detectable in the inflamed RA synovium and may be involved in the development of early bony erosions. These results suggest that strategies to inhibit the activation of MMP-2 may have the potential for retarding or preventing early erosions in patients with inflammatory arthritis.
PMCID: PMC17808  PMID: 11062605
early synovitis; erosion; metalloproteinase; matrix metalloproteinase-2; rheumatoid arthritis
6.  MIF Participates in Toxoplasma gondii-Induced Pathology Following Oral Infection 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e25259.
Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) is essential for controlling parasite burden and survival in a model of systemic Toxoplasma gondii infection. Peroral T. gondii infection induces small intestine necrosis and death in susceptible hosts, and in many aspects resembles inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Considering the critical role of MIF in the pathogenesis of IBD, we hypothesized that MIF participates in the inflammatory response induced by oral infection with T. gondii.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Mif deficient (Mif−/−) and wild-type mice in the C57Bl/6 background were orally infected with T. gondii strain ME49. Mif−/− mice had reduced lethality, ileal inflammation and tissue damage despite of an increased intestinal parasite load compared to wt mice. Lack of MIF caused a reduction of TNF-α, IL-12, IFN-γ and IL-23 and an increased expression of IL-22 in ileal mucosa. Moreover, suppressed pro-inflammatory responses at the ileal mucosa observed in Mif−/− mice was not due to upregulation of IL-4, IL-10 or TGF-β. MIF also affected the expression of matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) but not MMP-2 in the intestine of infected mice. Signs of systemic inflammation including the increased concentrations of inflammatory cytokines in the plasma and liver damage were less pronounced in Mif−/− mice compared to wild-type mice.
In conclusion, our data suggested that in susceptible hosts MIF controls T. gondii infection with the cost of increasing local and systemic inflammation, tissue damage and death.
PMCID: PMC3178626  PMID: 21977228
7.  Macrophage migration inhibitory factor enhances osteoclastogenesis through upregulation of RANKL expression from fibroblast-like synoviocytes in patients with rheumatoid arthritis 
Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) is one of key regulators in acute and chronic immune-inflammatory conditions including rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We examined the effect of MIF on osteoclastogenesis, which is known to play a crucial role in bone destruction in RA.
The concentration of MIF and receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB ligand (RANKL) in the synovial fluid was measured by ELISA. MIF-induced RANKL expression of RA synovial fibroblasts was determined by real-time PCR and western blot. Osteoclastogenesis was analyzed in culture of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) with MIF. Osteoclastogenesis was also determined after co-cultures of rhMIF-stimulated RA synovial fibroblasts with human PBMC.
Synovial fluid MIF concentration in RA patients was significantly higher than in osteoarthritis (OA) patients. The concentration of RANKL correlated with that of MIF in RA synovial fluids (r = 0.6, P < 0.001). MIF stimulated the expression of RANKL mRNA and protein in RA synovial fibroblasts, which was partially reduced by blocking of interleukin (IL)-1β. Osteoclasts were differentiated from PBMC cultures with MIF and M-CSF, even without RANKL. Osteoclastogenesis was increased after co-culture of MIF-stimulated RA synovial fibroblasts with PBMC and this effect was diminished by RANKL neutralization. Blocking of PI3 kinase, p38 MAP kinase, JAK-2, NF-κB, and AP-1 also led to a marked reduction in RANKL expression and osteoclastogenesis.
The interactions among MIF, synovial fibroblasts, osteoclasts, RANKL, and IL-1β have a close connection in osteoclastogenesis and they could be a potential gateway leading to new therapeutic approaches in treating bone destruction in RA.
PMCID: PMC3132025  PMID: 21401926
8.  The Ras guanine nucleotide exchange factor RasGRF1 promotes matrix metalloproteinase-3 production in rheumatoid arthritis synovial tissue 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2009;11(4):R121.
Fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients share many similarities with transformed cancer cells, including spontaneous production of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). Altered or chronic activation of proto-oncogenic Ras family GTPases is thought to contribute to inflammation and joint destruction in RA, and abrogation of Ras family signaling is therapeutic in animal models of RA. Recently, expression and post-translational modification of Ras guanine nucleotide releasing factor 1 (RasGRF1) was found to contribute to spontaneous MMP production in melanoma cancer cells. Here, we examine the potential relationship between RasGRF1 expression and MMP production in RA, reactive arthritis, and inflammatory osteoarthritis synovial tissue and FLS.
Expression of RasGRF1, MMP-1, MMP-3, and IL-6 was detected in synovial tissue by immunohistochemistry and stained sections were evaluated by digital image analysis. Expression of RasGRF1 in FLS and synovial tissue was also assessed by immunoblotting. Double staining was performed to detect proteins in specific cell populations, and cells producing MMP-1 and MMP-3. RasGRF1 expression was manipulated in RA FLS by cDNA transfection and gene silencing, and effects on MMP-1, TIMP-1, MMP-3, IL-6, and IL-8 production measured by ELISA.
Expression of RasGRF1 was significantly enhanced in RA synovial tissue, and detected in FLS and synovial macrophages in situ. In cultured FLS and synovial biopsies, RasGRF1 was detected by immunoblotting as a truncated fragment lacking its negative regulatory domain. Production of MMP-1 and MMP-3 in RA but not non-RA synovial tissue positively correlated with expression of RasGRF1 and co-localized in cells expressing RasGRF1. RasGRF1 overexpression in FLS induced production of MMP-3, and RasGRF1 silencing inhibited spontaneous MMP-3 production.
Enhanced expression and post-translational modification of RasGRF1 contributes to MMP-3 production in RA synovial tissue and the semi-transformed phenotype of RA FLS.
PMCID: PMC2745805  PMID: 19678938
9.  Induction of multiple matrix metalloproteinases in human dermal and synovial fibroblasts by Staphylococcus aureus: implications in the pathogenesis of septic arthritis and other soft tissue infections 
Infections of body tissue by Staphylococcus aureus are quickly followed by degradation of connective tissue. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis are more prone to S. aureus-mediated septic arthritis. Various types of collagen form the major structural matrix of different connective tissues of the body. These different collagens are degraded by specific matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) produced by fibroblasts, other connective tissue cells, and inflammatory cells that are induced by interleukin-1 (IL-1) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF). To determine the host's contribution in the joint destruction of S. aureus-mediated septic arthritis, we analyzed the MMP expression profile in human dermal and synovial fibroblasts upon exposure to culture supernatant and whole cell lysates of S. aureus. Human dermal and synovial fibroblasts treated with cell lysate and filtered culture supernatants had significantly enhanced expression of MMP-1, MMP-2, MMP-3, MMP-7, MMP-10, and MMP-11 compared with the untreated controls (p < 0.05). In the S. aureus culture supernatant, the MMP induction activity was identified to be within the molecular-weight range of 30 to >50 kDa. The MMP expression profile was similar in fibroblasts exposed to a combination of IL-1/TNF. mRNA levels of several genes of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signal transduction pathway were significantly elevated in fibroblasts treated with S. aureus cell lysate and culture supernatant. Also, tyrosine phosphorylation was significantly higher in fibroblasts treated with S. aureus components. Tyrosine phosphorylation and MAPK gene expression patterns were similar in fibroblasts treated with a combination of IL-1/TNF and S. aureus. Mutants lacking staphylococcal accessory regulator (Sar) and accessory gene regulator (Agr), which cause significantly less severe septic arthritis in murine models, were able to induce expression of several MMP mRNA comparable with that of their isogenic parent strain but induced notably higher levels of tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs). To our knowledge, this is the first report of induction of multiple MMP/TIMP expression from human dermal and synovial fibroblasts upon S. aureus treatment. We propose that host-derived MMPs contribute to the progressive joint destruction observed in S. aureus-mediated septic arthritis.
PMCID: PMC1794521  PMID: 17129374
10.  Pro-Inflammatory Action of MIF in Acute Myocardial Infarction via Activation of Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76206.
Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF), a pro-inflammatory cytokine, has been implicated in the pathogenesis of multiple inflammatory disorders. We determined changes in circulating MIF levels, explored the cellular source of MIF, and studied the role of MIF in mediating inflammatory responses following acute myocardial infarction (MI).
Methods and Results
We recruited 15 patients with MI, 10 patients with stable angina and 10 healthy volunteers and measured temporal changes of MIF in plasma. Expression of MIF, matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) in cultured peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and the media were measured by ELISA or real-time PCR. Compared to controls, plasma levels of MIF and IL-6 were significantly elevated at admission and 72 h post-MI. In contrast, expression of MIF, MMP-9 and IL-6 by PBMCs from MI patients was unchanged at admission, but significantly increased at 72 h. Addition of MIF activated cultured PBMCs by upregulating expression of inflammatory molecules and also synergistically enhanced stimulatory action of IL-1β which were inhibited by anti-MIF interventions. In a mouse MI model we observed similar changes in circulating MIF as seen in patients, with reciprocal significant increases in plasma MIF and reduction of MIF content in the infarct myocardium at 3 h after MI. MIF content in the infarct myocardium was restored at 72 h post-MI and was associated with robust macrophage infiltration. Further, anti-MIF intervention significantly reduced inflammatory cell infiltration and expression of monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 at 24 h and incidence of cardiac rupture in mice post-MI.
MI leads to a rapid release of MIF from the myocardium into circulation. Subsequently MIF facilitates PBMC production of pro-inflammatory mediators and myocardial inflammatory infiltration. Attenuation of these events, and post-MI cardiac rupture, by anti-MIF interventions suggests that MIF could be a potential therapeutic target following MI.
PMCID: PMC3788072  PMID: 24098445
11.  Galectin 3 Induces a Distinctive Pattern of Cytokine and Chemokine Production in Rheumatoid Synovial Fibroblasts via Selective Signaling Pathways 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2009;60(6):1604-1614.
High expression of galectin 3 at sites of joint destruction in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) suggests that galectin 3 plays a role in RA pathogenesis. Previous studies have demonstrated the effects of galectins on immune cells, such as lymphocytes and macrophages. This study was undertaken to investigate the hypothesis that galectin 3 induces proinflammatory effects in RA by modulating the pattern of cytokine and chemokine production in synovial fibroblasts.
Matched samples of RA synovial and skin fibroblasts were pretreated with galectin 3 or tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα), and the levels of a panel of cytokines, chemokines, and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) were determined using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays and multiplex assays. Specific inhibitors were used to dissect signaling pathways, which were confirmed by Western blotting and NF-κB activation assay.
Galectin 3 induced secretion of interleukin-6 (IL-6), granulocyte–macrophage colony-stimulating factor, CXCL8, and MMP-3 in both synovial and skin fibroblasts. By contrast, galectin 3–induced secretion of TNFα, CCL2, CCL3, and CCL5 was significantly greater in synovial fibroblasts than in skin fibroblasts. TNFα blockade ruled out autocrine TNFα-stimulated induction of chemokines. The MAPKs p38, JNK, and ERK were necessary for IL-6 production, but phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase) was required for selective CCL5 induction. NF-κB activation was required for production of both IL-6 and CCL5.
Our findings indicate that galectin 3 promotes proinflammatory cytokine secretion by tissue fibroblasts. However, galectin 3 induces the production of mononuclear cell–recruiting chemokines uniquely from synovial fibroblasts, but not matched skin fibroblasts, via a PI 3-kinase signaling pathway. These data provide further evidence of the role of synovial fibroblasts in regulating the pattern and persistence of the inflammatory infiltrate in RA and suggest a new and important functional consequence of the observed high expression of galectin 3 in the rheumatoid synovium.
PMCID: PMC3116228  PMID: 19479862
12.  Matrix metalloproteinases and tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases in synovial fluids from patients with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2000;59(6):455-461.
OBJECTIVE—Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are expressed in joint tissues of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA). The objective of this study was to define the steady state levels of seven different MMPs and two tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs) as well as the potential metalloproteinase activity in the synovial fluid (SF) to provide more insight into the role of MMPs in cartilage destruction in RA and OA.
METHODS—Levels of MMP-1, MMP-2, MMP-3, MMP-7, MMP-8, MMP-9, MMP-13, TIMP-1, and TIMP-2 in SF aspirated from knee joints of 97 patients with RA and 103 patients with OA were measured by the corresponding one step sandwich enzyme immunoassays. Proteolytic activity of MMPs in these SFs was examined in an assay using [3H]carboxymethylated transferrin substrate in the presence of inhibitors of serine and cysteine proteinases after activation with p-aminophenylmercuric acetate (APMA). Destruction of RA knee joints was radiographically evaluated.
RESULTS—Levels of MMP-1, MMP-2, MMP-3, MMP-8, and MMP-9 were significantly higher in RA SF than in OA SF. MMP-7 and MMP-13 were detectable in more than 45% of RA SFs and in less than 20% of OA SFs, respectively. Among the MMPs examined, MMP-3 levels were extremely high compared with those of other MMPs. Direct correlations were seen between the levels of MMP-1 and MMP-3 and between those of MMP-8 and MMP-9 in RA SF. Although the levels of MMP-1 and MMP-3 increased even in the early stage of RA, those of MMP-8 and MMP-9 were low in the early stage and increased with the progression of RA. Molar ratios of the total amounts of the MMPs to those of the TIMPs were 5.2-fold higher in patients with RA than in OA, which was significant. APMA-activated metalloproteinase activity in SF showed a similar result, and a direct correlation was seen between the molar ratios and the activity in RA SF.
CONCLUSIONS—Our results show that high levels of MMP-1, MMP-2, MMP-3, MMP-8, MMP-9, and TIMP-1 are present in RA SF and suggest that once these MMPs are fully activated, they have an imbalance against TIMPs, which may contribute to the cartilage destruction in RA.

PMCID: PMC1753174  PMID: 10834863
Arthritis and rheumatism  2011;63(4):960-970.
Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) facilitates multiple aspects of inflammatory arthritis, the pathogenesis of which is significantly contributed to by neutrophils. The effects of MIF on neutrophil recruitment are unknown. We investigated the contribution of MIF to the regulation of neutrophil chemotactic responses.
K/BxN serum transfer arthritis was induced in wild-type (WT), MIF -/-, and MCP1 (CCL2)-deficient mice, and in WT mice treated with anti-KC (CXCL1) mAb. In vivo leukocyte trafficking was examined using intravital microscopy, and in vitro neutrophil function was examined using migration chambers and MAP kinase activation.
K/BxN serum transfer arthritis was markedly attenuated in MIF-/- mice, with reductions in clinical and histological severity as well as synovial expression of KC and IL-1. Arthritis was also reduced by anti-KC antibody treatment, but not in MCP-1-deficient mice. In vivo neutrophil recruitment responses to KC were reduced in MIF-/- mice. Similarly, MIF-/-neutrophils exhibited reduced in vitro chemotactic responses to KC, despite unaltered chemokine receptor expression. Reduced chemotactic responses in MIF-/- neutrophils were associated with reduced phosphorylation of p38 and ERK MAP kinases.
These data suggest MIF promotes neutrophil trafficking in inflammatory arthritis via facilitation of chemokine-induced migratory responses and MAP kinase activation. Therapeutic MIF inhibition could limit synovial neutrophil recruitment.
PMCID: PMC3069137  PMID: 21452319
14.  Deficient Gadd45β in rheumatoid arthritis: Enhanced synovitis through JNK signaling 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2009;60(11):3229-3240.
c-Jun-N-terminal kinase (JNK)-mediated cell signaling plays a critical role in metalloproteinase (MMP) expression and joint destruction in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Gadd45β (growth arrest and DNA damage inducible gene), which is an NF-κB regulated gene, was recently identified as an endogenous negative regulator of the JNK pathway by blocking the upstream kinase MKK7. We evaluated whether low Gadd45β expression in RA enhances JNK activation and overproduction of MMPs in RA and whether Gadd45β deficiency increases arthritis severity in passive K/BxN arthritis.
Activation of the NF-κB and the JNK pathway and Gadd45β expression was analyzed in human synovium and fibroblast like synoviocytes (FLS) using quantitative PCR, immunoblotting, immunohistochemistry, electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA) and luciferase reporter constructs. Gadd45β null and wild type (WT) mice were evaluated in the K/BxN serum transfer model of inflammatory arthritis and clinical signs of arthritis, osteoclast formation, and bone erosion assessed.
Gadd45β gene and protein expression were unexpectedly low in human RA synovium despite abundant NF-κB activity. Forced Gadd45β expression in human FLS attenuated TNF-induced signaling through the JNK pathway, AP-1 activation, and MMP expression. Gadd45β deficiency exacerbated K/BxN serum-induced arthritis in mice, dramatically increased signaling through the JNK pathway and MMP3 and MMP13 gene expression in joints, and increased the area of inflammation and number of osteoclasts.
Deficient Gadd45β expression in RA can contribute to activation of JNK, clinical arthritis and joint destruction. This process can be mitigated by enhancing Gadd45β expression or by inhibiting JNK or its upstream regulator MKK7.
PMCID: PMC2858378  PMID: 19877043
15.  Suppressive effect of secretory phospholipase A2 inhibitory peptide on interleukin-1β-induced matrix metalloproteinase production in rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts, and its antiarthritic activity in hTNFtg mice 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2009;11(5):R138.
Secretory phospholipase A2 (sPLA2) and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) inhibitors are potent modulators of inflammation with therapeutic potential, but have limited efficacy in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The objective of this study was to understand the inhibitory mechanism of phospholipase inhibitor from python (PIP)-18 peptide in cultured synovial fibroblasts (SF), and to evaluate its therapeutic potential in a human tumor necrosis factor (hTNF)-driven transgenic mouse (Tg197) model of arthritis.
Gene and protein expression of sPLA2-IIA, MMP-1, MMP-2, MMP-3, MMP-9, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase (TIMP)-1, and TIMP-2 were analyzed by real time PCR and ELISA respectively, in interleukin (IL)-1β stimulated rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA) synovial fibroblasts cells treated with or without inhibitors of sPLA2 (PIP-18, LY315920) or MMPs (MMP Inhibitor II). Phosphorylation status of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) proteins was examined by cell-based ELISA. The effect of PIP-18 was compared with that of celecoxib, methotrexate, infliximab and antiflamin-2 in Tg197 mice after ip administration (thrice weekly for 5 weeks) at two doses (10, 30 mg/kg), and histologic analysis of ankle joints. Serum sPLA2 and cytokines (tumor necrosis factor (TNF)α, IL-6) were measured by Escherichia coli (E coli) assay and ELISA, respectively.
PIP-18 inhibited sPLA2-IIA production and enzymatic activity, and suppressed production of MMPs in IL-1β-induced RA and OA SF cells. Treatment with PIP-18 blocked IL-1β-induced p38 MAPK phosphorylation and resulted in attenuation of sPLA2-IIA and MMP mRNA transcription in RA SF cells. The disease modifying effect of PIP-18 was evidenced by significant abrogation of synovitis, cartilage degradation and bone erosion in hTNF Tg197 mice.
Our results demonstrate the benefit that can be gained from using sPLA2 inhibitory peptide for RA treatment, and validate PIP-18 as a potential therapeutic in a clinically relevant animal model of human arthritis.
PMCID: PMC2787297  PMID: 19765281
16.  S100A4 is expressed at site of invasion in rheumatoid arthritis synovium and modulates production of matrix metalloproteinases 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2006;65(12):1645-1648.
The metastasis‐associated protein S100A4 promotes the progression of cancer by regulating the remodelling of the extracellular matrix. The expression of S100A4 in vivo is shown and the functional role of S100A4 in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritisis is explored. The expression of S100A4 in rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and normal synovial tissues was determined by immunohistochemistry. The expression of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) mRNA was measured in rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis synovial fibroblasts treated and untreated with S100A4 oligomer by real‐time polymerase chain reaction. Levels of released MMPs were confirmed by ELISA in cell culture supernatants. S100A4 protein was expressed in rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis synovial tissues, in contrast with normal synovium. S100A4 up regulated MMP‐3 mRNA in rheumatoid arthritis synovial fluid, with a peak after 6 h. This resulted in release of MMP‐3 protein. MMP‐1, MMP‐9 and MMP‐13 mRNA were also up regulated in synovial fluid, but with different kinetics. MMP‐14 mRNA showed no change. Thus, S100A4 protein is expressed in synovial tissues of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis in contrast with healthy people. It induces the expression and release of MMP‐3 and other MMPs from synovial fluid. The data suggest that S100A4‐producing cells could be involved in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, including pannus formation and joint destruction.
PMCID: PMC1798462  PMID: 17105852
17.  Regulation of inflammatory arthritis by the upstream kinase mitogen activated protein kinase kinase 7 in the c-Jun N-Terminal kinase pathway 
The c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) is a key regulator of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) and cytokine production in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and JNK deficiency markedly protects mice in animal models of arthritis. Cytokine-induced JNK activation is strictly dependent on the mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 7 (MKK7) in fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS). Therefore, we evaluated whether targeting MKK7 using anti-sense oligonucleotides (ASO) would decrease JNK activation and severity in K/BxN serum transfer arthritis.
Three 2'-O-methoxyethyl chimeric ASOs for MKK7 and control ASO were injected intravenously in normal C57BL/6 mice. PBS, control ASO or MKK7 ASO was injected from Day -8 to Day 10 in the passive K/BxN model. Ankle histology was evaluated using a semi-quantitative scoring system. Expression of MKK7 and JNK pathways was evaluated by quantitative PCR and Western blot analysis.
MKK7 ASO decreased MKK7 mRNA and protein levels in ankles by about 40% in normal mice within three days. There was no effect of control ASO on MKK7 expression and MKK7 ASO did not affect MKK3, MKK4 or MKK6. Mice injected with MKK7 ASO had significantly less severe arthritis compared with control ASO (P < 0.01). Histologic evidence of synovial inflammation, bone erosion and cartilage damage was reduced in MKK7 ASO-treated mice (P < 0.01). MKK7 deficiency decreased phospho-JNK and phospho-c-Jun in ankle extracts (P < 0.05), but not phospho-MKK4. Interleukin-1beta (IL-1β), MMP3 and MMP13 gene expression in ankle joints were decreased by MKK7 ASO (P < 0.01).
MKK7 plays a critical regulatory role in the JNK pathway in a murine model of arthritis. Targeting MKK7 rather than JNK could provide site and event specificity when treating synovitis.
PMCID: PMC3392838  PMID: 22353730
C-Jun N-terminal kinase; Mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 7; Rheumatoid arthritis; Anti-sense oligonucleotide
18.  CD147 overexpression on synoviocytes in rheumatoid arthritis enhances matrix metalloproteinase production and invasiveness of synoviocytes 
Macrophage-like synoviocytes and fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) are known as the most active cells of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and are close to the articular cartilage in a position enabling them to invade the cartilage. Macrophage-like synoviocytes and FLS expression of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and their interaction has aroused great interest. The present article studied the expression of CD147, also called extracellular matrix metalloproteinase inducer, on monocytes/macrophages and FLS from RA patients and its potential role in enhancing MMPs and the invasiveness of synoviocytes. Expression of CD147 on FLS derived from RA patients and from osteoarthritis patients, and expression of CD147 on monocytes/macrophages from rheumatic synovial fluid and healthy peripheral blood were analyzed by flow cytometry. The levels of CD147, MMP-2 and MMP-9 mRNA in FLS were detected by RT-PCR. The role of CD147 in MMP production and the cells' invasiveness in vitro were studied by the co-culture of FLS with the human THP-1 cell line or monocytes/macrophages, by gel zymography and by invasion assay. The results showed that the expression of CD147 was higher on RA FLS than on osteoarthritis FLS and was higher on monocytes/macrophages from rheumatic synovial fluid than on monocytes/macrophages from healthy peripheral blood. RT-PCR showed that the expressions of CD147, MMP-2 and MMP-9 mRNA was higher in RA FLS than in osteoarthritis FLS. A significantly elevated secretion and activation of MMP-2 and MMP-9 were observed in RA FLS co-cultured with differentiated THP-1 cells or RA synovial monocytes/macrophages, compared with those co-cultured with undifferentiated THP-1 cells or healthy control peripheral blood monocytes. Invasion assays showed an increased number of invading cells in the co-cultured RA FLS with differentiated THP-1 cells or RA synovial monocytes/macrophages. CD147 antagonistic peptide inhibited the MMP production and the invasive potential. Our studies demonstrated that the CD147 overexpression on monocytes/macrophages and FLS in RA patients may be responsible for the enhanced MMP secretion and activation and for the invasiveness of synoviocytes. These findings suggest that CD147 may be one of the important factors in progressive joint destruction of RA and that CD147 may be a potential therapeutic target in RA treatment.
PMCID: PMC1526600  PMID: 16507143
19.  Cardiac macrophage migration inhibitory factor inhibits JNK pathway activation and injury during ischemia/reperfusion 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2009;119(12):3807-3816.
Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) is a proinflammatory cytokine that also modulates physiologic cell signaling pathways. MIF is expressed in cardiomyocytes and limits cardiac injury by enhancing AMPK activity during ischemia. Reperfusion injury is mediated in part by activation of the stress kinase JNK, but whether MIF modulates JNK in this setting is unknown. We examined the role of MIF in regulating JNK activation and cardiac injury during experimental ischemia/reperfusion in mouse hearts. Isolated perfused Mif–/– hearts had greater contractile dysfunction, necrosis, and JNK activation than WT hearts, with increased upstream MAPK kinase 4 phosphorylation, following ischemia/reperfusion. These effects were reversed if recombinant MIF was present during reperfusion, indicating that MIF deficiency during reperfusion exacerbated injury. Activated JNK acts in a proapoptotic manner by regulating BCL2-associated agonist of cell death (BAD) phosphorylation, and this effect was accentuated in Mif–/– hearts after ischemia/reperfusion. Similar detrimental effects of MIF deficiency were observed in vivo following coronary occlusion and reperfusion in Mif–/– mice. Importantly, excess JNK activation also was observed after hypoxia-reoxygenation in human fibroblasts homozygous for the MIF allele with the lowest level of promoter activity. These data indicate that endogenous MIF inhibits JNK pathway activation during reperfusion and protects the heart from injury. These findings have clinical implications for patients with the low-expression MIF allele.
PMCID: PMC2786800  PMID: 19920350
20.  MT1-MMP is a crucial promotor of synovial invasion in human rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2009;60(3):686.
A hallmark of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is invasion of the synovial pannus into cartilage and this step requires degradation of the collagen matrix. The aim of this study was to explore the role of one of the collagen-degrading matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), membrane-type 1 MMP (MT1-MMP), in synovial pannus invasiveness.
Expression and localization of MT1-MMP in human RA pannus were investigated by Western blot analysis of primary synovial cells and immunohistochemistry of RA joints specimens. The functional role of MT1-MMP was analyzed by 3D collagen invasion assays and a cartilage invasion assay in the presence or absence of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase (TIMP)-1, TIMP-2, or GM6001. The effect of adenoviral expression of a dominant negative MT1-MMP construct lacking a catalytic domain was also examined.
MT1-MMP was highly expressed at the pannus-cartilage junction of RA joints. Freshly isolated rheumatoid synovial tissues and isolated RA synovial fibroblasts invaded into a 3D collagen matrix in an MT1-MMP-dependent manner. Invasion was blocked by TIMP-2 and GM6001, but not by TIMP-1. It was also inhibited by the over-expression of a dominant negative MT1-MMP which inhibits collagenolytic activity and proMMP-2 activation by MT1-MMP on the cell surface. Synovial fibroblasts also invaded into cartilage in an MT1-MMP-dependent manner. This process was further enhanced by removing aggrecan from the cartilage matrix.
MT1-MMP is an essential collagen-degrading proteinase during pannus invasion in human RA. Specific inhibition of MT1-MMP-dependent invasion may form a novel therapeutic strategy for RA.
PMCID: PMC2819053  PMID: 19248098
MT1-MMP; synovial pannus; rheumatoid arthritis
21.  MIF Contributes to Trypanosoma brucei Associated Immunopathogenicity Development 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(9):e1004414.
African trypanosomiasis is a chronic debilitating disease affecting the health and economic well-being of many people in developing countries. The pathogenicity associated with this disease involves a persistent inflammatory response, whereby M1-type myeloid cells, including Ly6Chigh inflammatory monocytes, are centrally implicated. A comparative gene analysis between trypanosusceptible and trypanotolerant animals identified MIF (macrophage migrating inhibitory factor) as an important pathogenic candidate molecule. Using MIF-deficient mice and anti-MIF antibody treated mice, we show that MIF mediates the pathogenic inflammatory immune response and increases the recruitment of inflammatory monocytes and neutrophils to contribute to liver injury in Trypanosoma brucei infected mice. Moreover, neutrophil-derived MIF contributed more significantly than monocyte-derived MIF to increased pathogenic liver TNF production and liver injury during trypanosome infection. MIF deficient animals also featured limited anemia, coinciding with increased iron bio-availability, improved erythropoiesis and reduced RBC clearance during the chronic phase of infection. Our data suggest that MIF promotes the most prominent pathological features of experimental trypanosome infections (i.e. anemia and liver injury), and prompt considering MIF as a novel target for treatment of trypanosomiasis-associated immunopathogenicity.
Author Summary
Uncontrolled inflammation is a major contributor to pathogenicity development during many chronic parasitic infections, including African trypanosome infections. Hence, therapies should aim at re-establishing the balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory responses to reduce tissue damage. Our experiments uncovered that macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) plays a pivotal role in trypanosomiasis-associated pathogenicity development. Hereby, MIF-deficient and neutralizing anti-MIF antibody-treated wild type (WT) T. brucei-infected mice exhibited decreased inflammatory responses, reduced liver damage and anemia (i.e. the most prominent pathogenicity features) compared to WT control mice. The reduced tissue damage coincided with reduced infiltration of pathogenic monocytic cells and neutrophils, whereby neutrophil-derived MIF contributed more significantly than monocyte-derived MIF to tissue damage. MIF also promoted anemia development by suppressing red blood cell production and enhancing their clearance. The clinical significance of these findings follows from human genetic data indicating that low-expression (protective) MIF alleles are enriched in Africans. The current findings therefore offer promise for human translation and open the possibility of assessing MIF levels or MIF genotype as an indication of an individual's risk for severe trypanosomiasis. Furthermore, given the unmet medical need of African trypanosomiasis affecting millions of people, these findings highlight MIF as a potential new therapeutic target for treatment of trypanosomiasis-associated pathogenicity.
PMCID: PMC4177988  PMID: 25255103
22.  Activation of synovial fibroblasts in rheumatoid arthritis: lack of expression of the tumour suppressor PTEN at sites of invasive growth and destruction 
Arthritis Research  1999;2(1):59-64.
In the present study, we searched for mutant PTEN transcripts in aggressive rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts (RA-SF) and studied the expression of PTEN in RA. By automated sequencing, no evidence for the presence of mutant PTEN transcripts was found. However, in situ hybridization on RA synovium revealed a distinct expression pattern of PTEN, with negligible staining in the lining layer but abundant expression in the sublining. Normal synovial tissue exhibited homogeneous staining for PTEN. In cultured RA-SF, only 40% expressed PTEN. Co-implantation of RA-SF and normal human cartilage into severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mice showed only limited expression of PTEN, with no staining in those cells aggressively invading the cartilage. Although PTEN is not genetically altered in RA, these findings suggest that a lack of PTEN expression may constitute a characteristic feature of activated RA-SF in the lining, and may thereby contribute to the invasive behaviour of RA-SF by maintaining their aggressive phenotype at sites of cartilage destruction.
PTEN is a novel tumour suppressor which exhibits tyrosine phosphatase activity as well as homology to the cytoskeletal proteins tensin and auxilin. Mutations of PTEN have been described in several human cancers and associated with their invasiveness and metastatic properties. Although not malignant, rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts (RA-SF) exhibit certain tumour-like features such as attachment to cartilage and invasive growth. In the present study, we analyzed whether mutant transcripts of PTEN were present in RA-SF. In addition, we used in situ hybridization to study the expression of PTEN messenger (m)RNA in tissue samples of RA and normal individuals as well as in cultured RA-SF and in the severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mouse model of RA.
Synovial tissue specimens were obtained from seven patients with RA and from two nonarthritic individuals. Total RNA was isolated from synovial fibroblasts and after first strand complementary (c)DNA synthesis, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was performed to amplify a 1063 base pair PTEN fragment that encompassed the coding sequence of PTEN including the phosphatase domain and all mutation sites described so far. The PCR products were subcloned in Escherichia coli, and up to four clones were picked from each plate for automated sequencing. For in situ hybridization, digoxigenin-labelled PTEN-specific RNA probes were generated by in vitro transcription. For control in situ hybridization, a matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2-specific probe was prepared. To investigate the expression of PTEN in the absence of human macrophage or lymphocyte derived factors, we implanted RA-SF from three patients together with normal human cartilage under the renal capsule of SCID mice. After 60 days, mice were sacrificed, the implants removed and embedded into paraffin.
PCR revealed the presence of the expected 1063 base pair PTEN fragment in all (9/9) cell cultures (Fig. 1). No additional bands that could account for mutant PTEN variants were detected. Sequence analysis revealed 100% homology of all RA-derived PTEN fragments to those from normal SF as well as to the published GenBank sequence (accession number U93051). However, in situ hybridization demonstrated considerable differences in the expression of PTEN mRNA within the lining and the sublining layers of RA synovial membranes. As shown in Figure 2a, no staining was observed within the lining layer which has been demonstrated to mediate degradation of cartilage and bone in RA. In contrast, abundant expression of PTEN mRNA was found in the sublining of all RA synovial tissues (Figs 2a and b). Normal synovial specimens showed homogeneous staining for PTEN within the thin synovial membrane (Fig. 2c). In situ hybridization using the sense probe gave no specific staining (Fig. 2d). We also performed in situ hybridization on four of the seven cultured RA-SF and followed one cell line from the first to the sixth passage. Interestingly, only 40% of cultured RA-SF expressed PTEN mRNA (Fig. 3a), and the proportion of PTEN expressing cells did not change throughout the passages. In contrast, control experiments using a specific RNA probe for MMP-2 revealed mRNA expression by nearly all cultured cells (Fig. 3b). As seen before, implantation of RA-SF into the SCID mice showed considerable cartilage degradation. Interestingly, only negligible PTEN expression was found in those RA-SF aggressively invading the cartilage (Fig. 3c). In situ hybridization for MMP-2 showed abundant staining in these cells (Fig. 3d).
Although this study found no evidence for mutations of PTEN in RA synovium, the observation that PTEN expression is lacking in the lining layer of RA synovium as well as in more than half of cultured RA-SF is of interest. It suggests that loss of PTEN function may not exclusively be caused by genetic alterations, yet at the same time links the low expression of PTEN to a phenotype of cells that have been shown to invade cartilage aggressively.
It has been proposed that the tyrosine phosphatase activity of PTEN is responsible for its tumour suppressor activity by counteracting the actions of protein tyrosine kinases. As some studies have demonstrated an upregulation of tyrosine kinase activity in RA synovial cells, it might be speculated that the lack of PTEN expression in aggressive RA-SF contributes to the imbalance of tyrosine kinases and phosphatases in this disease. However, the extensive amino-terminal homology of the predicted protein to the cytoskeletal proteins tensin and auxilin suggests a complex regulatory function involving cellular adhesion molecules and phosphatase-mediated signalling. The tyrosine phosphatase TEP1 has been shown to be identical to the protein encoded by PTEN, and gene transcription of TEP1 has been demonstrated to be downregulated by transforming growth factor (TGF)-β. Therefore, it could be hypothesized that TGF-β might be responsible for the downregulation of PTEN. However, the expression of TGF-β is not restricted to the lining but found throughout the synovial tissue in RA. Moreover, in our study the percentage of PTEN expressing RA-SF remained stable for six passages in culture, whereas molecules that are cytokine-regulated in vivo frequently change their expression levels when cultured over several passages. Also, cultured RA-SF that were implanted into SCID mice and deeply invaded the cartilage did not show significant expression of PTEN after 60 days. The drop in the percentage of PTEN expressing cells from the original cell cultures to the SCID mouse implants is of interest as this observation goes along with data from previous studies that have shown the prominent expression of activation-related molecules in the SCID mice implants that in vivo are found predominantly in the lining layer. Therefore, our data point to endogenous mechanisms rather than to the influence of exogenous human cytokines or factors in the downregulation of PTEN. Low expression of PTEN may belong to the features that distinguish between the activated phenotype of RA-SF and the sublining, proliferating but nondestructive cells.
PMCID: PMC17804  PMID: 11219390
rheumatoid arthritis; synovial membrane; fibroblasts; PTEN tumour suppressor; severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mouse model; cartilage destruction; in situ hybridization
23.  Attachment to laminin‐111 facilitates transforming growth factor β‐induced expression of matrix metalloproteinase‐3 in synovial fibroblasts 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2006;66(4):446-451.
In the synovial membrane of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a strong expression of laminins and matrix degrading proteases was reported.
To investigate the regulation of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) in synovial fibroblasts (SFs) of patients with osteoarthritis (OA) and RA by attachment to laminin‐1 (LM‐111) and in the presence or absence of costimulatory signals provided by transforming growth factor β (TGFβ).
SFs were seeded in laminin‐coated flasks and activated by addition of TGFβ. The expression of genes was investigated by quantitative reverse transcriptase‐polymerase chain reaction (qRT‐PCR), immunocytochemistry and ELISA, and intracellular signalling pathways by immunoblotting, and by poisoning p38MAPK by SB203580, MEK‐ERK by PD98059 and SMAD2 by A‐83‐01.
Attachment of SF to LM‐111 did not activate the expression of MMPs, but addition of TGFβ induced a fivefold higher expression of MMP‐3. Incubation of SF on LM‐111 in the presence of TGFβ induced a significant 12‐fold higher expression of MMP‐3 mRNA, and secretion of MMP‐3 was elevated 20‐fold above controls. Functional blocking of LM‐111–integrin interaction reduced the laminin‐activated MMP‐3 expression significantly. Stimulation of SF by LM‐111 and TGFβ activated the p38MAPK, ERK and SMAD2 pathways, and inhibition of these pathways by using SB203580, PD98059 or A‐83‐01 confirmed the involvement of these pathways in the regulation of MMP‐3.
Attachment of SF to LM‐111 by itself has only minor effects on the expression of MMP‐1 or MMP‐3, but it facilitates the TGFβ‐induced expression of MMP‐3 significantly. This mode of MMP‐3 induction may therefore contribute to inflammatory joint destruction in RA independent of the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)1β or tumour necrosis factor (TNF)α.
PMCID: PMC1856036  PMID: 17124250
24.  Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor Deficiency Ameliorates High-Fat Diet Induced Insulin Resistance in Mice with Reduced Adipose Inflammation and Hepatic Steatosis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e113369.
Macrophage infiltration is a critical determinant of high-fat diet induced adipose tissue inflammation and insulin resistance. The precise mechanisms underpinning the initiation of macrophage recruitment and activation are unclear. Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF), a pro-inflammatory cytokine, displays chemokine-like properties. Circulating MIF levels are elevated during obesity however its role in high-fat diet induced adipose inflammation and insulin resistance remains elusive. Wildtype and MIF−/− C57Bl\6J mice were fed chow or high-fat diet. Body weight and food intake was assessed. Glucose homeostasis was monitored by glucose and insulin tolerance tests. Adipose tissue macrophage recruitment and adipose tissue insulin sensitivity was evaluated. Cytokine secretion from stromal vascular fraction, adipose explants and bone marrow macrophages was measured. Inflammatory signature and insulin sensitivity of 3T3-L1-adipocytes co-cultured with wildtype and MIF−/− macrophage was quantified. Hepatic triacylglyceride levels were assessed. MIF−/− exhibited reduced weight gain. Age and weight-matched obese MIF−/− mice exhibited improved glucose homeostasis coincident with reduced adipose tissue M1 macrophage infiltration. Obese MIF−/− stromal vascular fraction secreted less TNFα and greater IL-10 compared to wildtype. Activation of JNK was impaired in obese MIF−/−adipose, concomitant with pAKT expression. 3T3-L1-adipocytes cultured with MIF−/− macrophages had reduced pro-inflammatory cytokine secretion and improved insulin sensitivity, effects which were also attained with MIF inhibitor ISO-1. MIF−/− liver exhibited reduced hepatic triacyglyceride accumulation, enhanced pAKT expression and reduced NFκB activation. MIF deficiency partially protects from high-fat diet induced insulin resistance by attenuating macrophage infiltration, ameliorating adipose inflammation, which improved adipocyte insulin resistance ex vivo. MIF represents a potential therapeutic target for treatment of high-fat diet induced insulin resistance.
PMCID: PMC4239060  PMID: 25412423
25.  Matrix metalloproteinase protein expression profiles cannot distinguish between normal and early osteoarthritic synovial fluid 
Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are diseases which result in the degeneration of the joint surface articular cartilage. Matrix Metalloproteinases (MMPs) are enzymes that aid in the natural remodelling of tissues throughout the body including cartilage. However, some MMPs have been implicated in the progression of OA and RA as their expression levels and activation states can change dramatically with the onset of disease. Yet, it remains unknown if normal and arthritic joints demonstrate unique MMPs expression profiles, and if so, can the MMP expression profile be used to identify patients with early OA. In this study, the synovial fluid protein expression levels for MMPs 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 12 & 13, as well as those for the Tissue Inhibitors of MMPs (TIMPs) 1, 2, 3, & 4 were examined in highly characterized normal knee joints, and knee joints with clinically diagnosed OA (early and advanced) or RA. The purpose of this study was to determine if normal, OA, and RA patients exhibit unique expression profiles for a sub-set of MMPs, and if early OA patients have a unique MMP expression profile that could be used as an early diagnostic marker.
Synovial fluid was aspirated from stringently characterized normal knee joints, and in joints diagnosed with either OA (early and advanced) or RA. Multiplexing technology was employed to quantify protein expression levels for 8 MMPs and 4 TIMPs in the synovial fluid of 12 patients with early OA, 17 patients diagnosed with advanced OA, 15 with RA and 25 normal knee joints. Principle component analysis (PCA) was used to reveal which MMPs were most influential in the distinction between treatment groups. K – means clustering was used to verify the visual grouping of subjects via PCA.
Significant differences in the expression levels of MMPs and TIMPs were observed between normal and arthritic synovial fluids (with the exception of MMP 12). PCA demonstrated that MMPs 2, 8 & 9 can be used to effectively separate individuals diagnosed with advanced arthritis from early osteoarthritic and normal individuals, however, these MMP profiles do not separate early OA from normal synovial fluid. An apparent separation between advanced OA and RA subjects was also revealed through PCA. K-means clustering verified the presence of 3 clusters: normal joints clustered with early OA, and separate clusters of advanced OA or RA.
This study demonstrates that unique MMP and TIMP expression profiles are present within normal, advanced OA and RA synovial fluid. These MMP profiles can be used to distinguish advanced OA & RA synovial fluid from early OA & normal synovial fluid, and even between synovial fluid samples from OA and RA joints. Although this methodology cannot be used for the diagnosis of early OA, high throughput multiplex technology of MMPs and TIMPs in synovial fluid may prove useful in determining the severity of the disease state, and/or quantifying the response of individuals to disease interventions.
PMCID: PMC3532375  PMID: 22824140

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