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1.  Collagenase-3 (MMP-13) deficiency protects C57BL/6 mice from antibody-induced arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2013;15(6):R222.
Introduction
Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are important in tissue remodelling. Here we investigate the role of collagenase-3 (MMP-13) in antibody-induced arthritis.
Methods
For this study we employed the K/BxN serum-induced arthritis model. Arthritis was induced in C57BL/6 wild type (WT) and MMP-13-deficient (MMP-13–/–) mice by intraperitoneal injection of 200 μl of K/BxN serum. Arthritis was assessed by measuring the ankle swelling. During the course of the experiments, mice were sacrificed every second day for histological examination of the ankle joints. Ankle sections were evaluated histologically for infiltration of inflammatory cells, pannus tissue formation and bone/cartilage destruction. Semi-quantitative PCR was used to determine MMP-13 expression levels in ankle joints of untreated and K/BxN serum-injected mice.
Results
This study shows that MMP-13 is a regulator of inflammation. We observed increased expression of MMP-13 in ankle joints of WT mice during K/BxN serum-induced arthritis and both K/BxN serum-treated WT and MMP-13–/– mice developed progressive arthritis with a similar onset. However, MMP-13–/– mice showed significantly reduced disease over the whole arthritic period. Ankle joints of WT mice showed severe joint destruction with extensive inflammation and erosion of cartilage and bone. In contrast, MMP-13–/– mice displayed significantly decreased severity of arthritis (50% to 60%) as analyzed by clinical and histological scoring methods.
Conclusions
MMP-13 deficiency acts to suppress the local inflammatory responses. Therefore, MMP-13 has a role in the pathogenesis of arthritis, suggesting MMP-13 is a potential therapeutic target.
doi:10.1186/ar4423
PMCID: PMC3979078  PMID: 24369907
2.  In vivo model of cartilage degradation--effects of a matrix metalloproteinase inhibitor. 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1995;54(8):662-669.
OBJECTIVES--To develop a model of cartilage degradation that (i) enables the testing of synthetic, small molecular weight matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) inhibitors as agents to prevent cartilage erosion, (ii) permits the direct assay of the principal constituents of the extracellular matrix (collagen and proteoglycan) in both the non-calcified articular cartilage and the calcified cartilage compartments, and (iii) is mediated by a chronic, granulomatous tissue that closely apposes intact articular cartilage, and in this respect resembles the pannus-cartilage junction of rheumatoid arthritis. METHODS--Femoral head cartilage was obtained from donor rats, wrapped in cotton and implanted subcutaneously into recipient animals. After a two stage papain digestion procedure, the proteoglycan and collagen contents were measured by assaying for glycosaminoglycans and hydroxyproline, respectively, in both the non-calcified cartilage that comprises the articular surface layer and the calcified cartilage compartment. The incorporation in vitro of [35S]-sulphate into glycosaminoglycans was assayed as a measure of proteoglycan biosynthesis. An osmotic minipump was cannulated to the implanted femoral head cartilage and synthetic MMP inhibitors (MI-1 and MI-2) were infused continuously over a 14 day period. RESULTS--The implanted, cotton wrapped femoral head cartilages provoked a granulomatous response that resulted in the removal of collagen and proteoglycan from the cartilage matrix. The removal of proteoglycan and collagen was exclusively from the non-calcified articular cartilage, whereas the proteoglycan and collagen content of the calcified compartment increased during the experiments. MI-1 reproducibly reduced the degradation of proteoglycan and collagen in implanted femoral head cartilage. CONCLUSIONS--We have described an in vivo model of cartilage degradation that permits the measurement of proteoglycan and collagen in both non-calcified articular cartilage and calcified cartilage compartments. The model can be used to test the effects of agents of unknown systemic bioavailability and pharmacokinetic profile by infusing them directly to the site of cartilage degradation. The removal of cartilage extracellular matrix by granulomatous tissue was inhibited by an MMP inhibitor, thus proving the involvement of this family of proteinases in cartilage catabolism in this model.
PMCID: PMC1009964  PMID: 7677443
3.  Protection against cartilage and bone destruction by systemic interleukin-4 treatment in established murine type II collagen-induced arthritis 
Arthritis Research  1999;1(1):81-91.
Destruction of cartilage and bone are hallmarks of human rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and controlling these erosive processes is the most challenging objective in the treatment of RA. Systemic interleukin-4 treatment of established murine collagen-induced arthritis suppressed disease activity and protected against cartilage and bone destruction. Reduced cartilage pathology was confirmed by both decreased serum cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP) and histological examination. In addition, radiological analysis revealed that bone destruction was also partially prevented. Improved suppression of joint swelling was achieved when interleukin-4 treatment was combined with low-dose prednisolone treatment. Interestingly, synergistic reduction of both serum COMP and inflammatory parameters was noted when low-dose interleukin-4 was combined with prednisolone. Systemic treatment with interleukin-4 appeared to be a protective therapy for cartilage and bone in arthritis, and in combination with prednisolone at low dosages may offer an alternative therapy in RA.
Introduction:
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is associated with an increased production of a range of cytokines including tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α and interleukin (IL)-1, which display potent proinflammatory actions that are thought to contribute to the pathogenesis of the disease. Although TNF-α seems to be the major cytokine in the inflammatory process, IL-1 is the key mediator with regard to cartilage and bone destruction. Apart from direct blockade of IL-1/TNF, regulation can be exerted at the level of modulatory cytokines such as IL-4 and IL-10. IL-4 is a pleiotropic T-cell derived cytokine that can exert either suppressive or stimulatory effects on different cell types, and was originally identified as a B-cell growth factor and regulator of humoral immune pathways. IL-4 is produced by activated CD4+ T cells and it promotes the maturation of Th2 cells. IL-4 stimulates proliferation, differentiation and activation of several cell types, including fibroblasts, endothelial cells and epithelial cells. IL-4 is also known to be a potent anti-inflammatory cytokine that acts by inhibiting the synthesis of proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-1, TNF-α, IL-6, IL-8 and IL-12 by macrophages and monocytes. Moreover, IL-4 stimulates the synthesis of several cytokine inhibitors such as interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra), soluble IL-1-receptor type II and TNF receptors IL-4 suppresses metalloproteinase production and stimulates tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 production in human mononuclear phagocytes and cartilage explants, indicating a protective effect of IL-4 towards extracellular matrix degradation. Furthermore, IL-4 inhibits both osteoclast activity and survival, and thereby blocks bone resorption in vitro. Of great importance is that IL-4 could not be detected in synovial fluid or in tissues. This absence of IL-4 in the joint probably contributes to the disturbance in the Th1/Th2 balance in chronic RA.
Collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) is a widely used model of arthritis that displays several features of human RA. Recently it was demonstrated that the onset of CIA is under stringent control of IL-4 and IL-10. Furthermore, it was demonstrated that exposure to IL-4 during the immunization stage reduced onset and severity of CIA. However, after cessation of IL-4 treatment disease expression increased to control values.
Aims:
Because it was reported that IL-4 suppresses several proinflammatory cytokines and matrix degrading enzymes and upregulates inhibitors of both cytokines and catabolic enzymes, we investigated the tissue protective effect of systemic IL-4 treatment using established murine CIA as a model. Potential synergy of low dosages of anti-inflammatory glucocorticosteroids and IL-4 was also evaluated.
Methods:
DBA-1J/Bom mice were immunized with bovine type II collagen and boosted at day 21. Mice with established CIA were selected at day 28 after immunization and treated for days with IL-4, prednisolone, or combinations of prednisolone and IL-4. Arthritis score was monitored visually. Joint pathology was evaluated by histology, radiology and serum cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP). In addition, serum levels of IL-1Ra and anticollagen antibodies were determined.
Results:
Treatment of established CIA with IL-4 (1 μg/day) resulted in suppression of disease activity as depicted in Figure 1. Of great interest is that, although 1 μg/day IL-4 had only a moderate effect on the inflammatory component of the disease activity, it strongly reduced cartilage pathology, as determined by histological examination (Fig. 1). Moreover, serum COMP levels were significantly reduced, confirming decreased cartilage involvement. In addition, both histological and radiological analysis showed that bone destruction was prevented (Fig. 1). Systemic IL-4 administration increased serum IL-1Ra levels and reduced anticollagen type II antibody levels. Treatment with low-dose IL-4 (0.1 μg/day) was ineffective in suppressing disease score, serum COMP or joint destruction. Synergistic suppression of both arthritis severity and COMP levels was noted when low-dose IL-4 was combined with prednisolone (0.05 mg/kg/day), however, which in itself was not effective.
Discussion:
In the present study, we demonstrate that systemic IL-4 treatment ameliorates disease progression of established CIA. Although clinical disease progression was only arrested and not reversed, clear protection against cartilage and bone destruction was noted. This is in accord with findings in both human RA and animal models of RA that show that inflammation and tissue destruction sometimes are uncoupled processes. Of great importance is that, although inflammation was still present, strong reduction in serum COMP was found after exposure to IL-4. This indicated that serum COMP levels reflected cartilage damage, although a limited contribution of the inflamed synovium cannot be excluded.
Increased serum IL-1Ra level (twofold) was found after systemic treatment with IL-4, but it is not likely that this could explain the suppression of CIA. We and others have reported that high dosages of IL-1Ra are needed for marked suppression of CIA. As reported previously, lower dosages of IL-4 did not reduce clinical disease severity of established CIA. Of importance is that combined treatment of low dosages of IL-4 and IL-10 appeared to have more potent anti-inflammatory effects, and markedly protected against cartilage destruction. Improved anti-inflammatory effect was achieved with IL-4/prednisolone treatment. In addition, synergistic effects were found for the reduction of cartilage and bone destruction. This indicates that systemic IL-4/prednisolone treatment may provide a cartilage and bone protective therapy for human RA.
Effects in mice of treatment with interleukin-4 or control on disease activity, cartilage damage and bone destruction. Mice were treated intraperitoneally for 7 days with either vehicle (control) or 1 μg/day interleukin-4 (IL-4). CIA, collagen-induced arthritis. *P < 0.05, versus control, by Mann-Whitney U test.
PMCID: PMC17779  PMID: 11056663
bone destruction; cartilage oligomeric matrix protein levels; collagen-induced arthritis; interleukin-4; prednisolone
4.  The Arthritis Severity Locus Cia5d Is a Novel Genetic Regulator of the Invasive Properties of Synovial Fibroblasts 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2008;58(8):2296-2306.
Objective
The synovial fibroblast, or fibroblast-like synoviocyte (FLS), has a central role in pannus invasion and destruction of cartilage and bone in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, regulation of the FLS remains incompletely understood. The aim of this study was to determine whether the invasive properties of FLS are genetically regulated by arthritis severity loci.
Methods
DA rats (arthritis susceptible) and rat strains congenic for arthritis-protective intervals were studied. Primary FLS cell lines were generated from each strain and used in a well-established FLS invasion model through a collagen-rich barrier. Cells or culture supernatants were analyzed for gene expression, activity of different matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), cytoskeleton integrity, and cell proliferation.
Results
The median number of FLS from DA.F344(Cia5d) rats that invaded through the collagen-rich barrier was reduced 86.5% compared with the median number of invading FLS from DA rats. Histologic examination showed that DA.F344(Cia5d) rats preserved a normal joint without pannus, hyperplasia, or erosions. FLS from DA.F344(Cia5d) rats produced significantly lower levels of active MMP-2 compared with FLS from DA rats, but the levels of proMMP-2 and MMP-2 messenger RNA in DA.F344(Cia5d) rats were similar to those in DA rats. Treatment of FLS from DA rats with an MMP-2 inhibitor reduced cell invasion to a level similar to that in DA.F344(Cia5d) rats, demonstrating that MMP-2 activity accounted for the difference between FLS from these 2 strains. Analysis of MMP-2–activating pathways revealed increased levels of soluble membrane type 1 (MT1)–MMP in DA rats compared with DA.F344(Cia5d) rats.
Conclusion
These data represent the first evidence for a genetic component in the regulation of FLS invasion. A gene located within the Cia5d interval accounts for this effect and operates via the regulation of soluble MT1-MMP production and MMP-2 activation. These observations suggest novel potential pathways for prognostication and therapy.
doi:10.1002/art.23610
PMCID: PMC2714698  PMID: 18668563
5.  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.
Introduction:
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.
Aims:
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.
Methods:
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.
Results:
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.
Discussion:
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
6.  Norisoboldine alleviates joint destruction in rats with adjuvant-induced arthritis by reducing RANKL, IL-6, PGE2, and MMP-13 expression 
Acta Pharmacologica Sinica  2013;34(3):403-413.
Aim:
To explore the effects of norisoboldine (NOR), a major isoquinoline alkaloid in Radix Linderae, on joint destruction in rats with adjuvant-induced arthritis (AIA) and its underlying mechanisms.
Methods:
AIA was induced in adult male SD rats by intradermal injection of Mycobacterium butyricum in Freund's complete adjuvant at the base of the right hind paw and tail. From d 14 after immunization, the rats were orally given NOR (7.5, 15, or 30 mg/kg) or dexamethasone (0.5 mg/kg) daily for 10 consecutive days. Joint destruction was evaluated with radiological scanning and H&E staining. Fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) were prepared from fresh synovial tissues in the AIA rats. The expression of related proteins and mRNAs were detected by ELISA, Western blotting and RT-PCR.
Results:
In AIA rats, NOR (15 and 30 mg/kg) significantly decreased the swelling of paws and arthritis index scores, and elevated the mean body weight. NOR (30 mg/kg) prevented both the infiltration of inflammatory cells and destruction of bone and cartilage in joints. However, NOR (15 mg/kg) only suppressed the destruction of bone and cartilage, but did not obviously ameliorate synovial inflammation. NOR (15 and 30 mg/kg) significantly decreased the serum levels of receptor activator of nuclear factor κB ligand (RANKL), IL-6, PGE2, and MMP-13, but not the osteoprotegerin and MMP-1 levels. The mRNA levels of RANKL, IL-6, COX-2, and MMP-13 in synovium were also suppressed. Dexamethasone produced similar effects in AIA rats as NOR did, but without elevating the mean body weight. In the cultured FLS, treatment with NOR (10 and 30 mmol/L) significantly decreased the secretion of RANKL, IL-6, PGE2, and MMP-13 proteins. Furthermore, the treatment selectively prevented the activation of MAPKs, AKT and transcription factor AP-1 component c-Jun, but not the recruitment of TRAF6 or the activation of JAK2/STAT3. Treatment of the cultured FLS with the specific inhibitors of p38, ERK, AKT, and AP-1 significantly decreased the secretion of RANKL, IL-6, PGE2, and MMP-13 proteins.
Conclusion:
NOR can alleviate joint destruction in AIA rats by reducing RANKL, IL-6, PGE2, and MMP-13 expression via the p38/ERK/AKT/AP-1 pathway.
doi:10.1038/aps.2012.187
PMCID: PMC4002497  PMID: 23396374
norisoboldine; dexamethasone; rheumatoid arthritis; adjuvant-induced arthritis; joint destruction; fibroblast-like synoviocyte; receptor activator of nuclear factor κB ligand; IL-6; PGE2; MMP-13; COX-2; p38/ERK/AKT/AP-1 pathway
7.  Monoarticular antigen-induced arthritis leads to pronounced bilateral upregulation of the expression of neurokinin 1 and bradykinin 2 receptors in dorsal root ganglion neurons of rats 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(5):424-427.
This study describes the upregulation of neurokinin 1 and bradykinin 2 receptors in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons in the course of antigen-induced arthritis (AIA) in the rat knee. In the acute phase of AIA, which was characterized by pronounced hyperalgesia, there was a substantial bilateral increase in the proportion of lumbar DRG neurons that express neurokinin 1 receptors (activated by substance P) and bradykinin 2 receptors. In the chronic phase the upregulation of bradykinin 2 receptors persisted on the side of inflammation. The increase in the receptor expression is relevant for the generation of acute and chronic inflammatory pain.
Introduction:
Ongoing pain and hyperalgesia (enhanced pain response to stimulation of the tissue) are major symptoms of arthritis. Arthritic pain results from the activation and sensitization of primary afferent nociceptive nerve fibres ('pain fibres') supplying the tissue (peripheral sensitization) and from the activation and sensitization of nociceptive neurons in the central nervous system (central sensitization). After sensitization, nociceptive neurons respond more strongly to mechanical and thermal stimulation of the tissue, and their activation threshold is lowered. The activation and sensitization of primary afferent fibres results from the action of inflammatory mediators such as bradykinin (BK), prostaglandins and others on membrane receptors located on these neurons. BK is a potent pain-producing substance that is contained in inflammatory exudates. Up to 50% of the primary afferent nerve fibres have receptors for BK. When primary afferent nerve fibres are activated they can release neuropeptides such as substance P (SP) and calcitonin gene-related peptide from their sensory endings in the tissue. SP contributes to the inflammatory changes in the innervated tissue (neurogenic inflammation), and it might also support the sensitization of nociceptive nerve fibres by binding to neurokinin 1 (NK1) receptors. NK1 receptors are normally expressed on a small proportion of the primary afferent nerve fibres.
Aims:
Because the expression of receptors on the primary afferent neurons is essential for the pain-producing action of inflammatory mediators and neuropeptides, we investigated in the present study whether the expression of BK and NK1 receptors on primary afferent neurons is altered during the acute and chronic phases of an antigen-induced arthritis (AIA). AIA resembles in many aspects the inflammatory process of human rheumatoid arthritis. Because peptide receptors are expressed not only in the terminals of the primary afferent units but also in the cell bodies, we removed dorsal root ganglia (DRGs) of both sides from control rats and from rats with the acute or chronic phase of AIA and determined, after short-term culture of the neurons, the proportion of DRG neurons that expressed the receptors in the different phases of AIA. We also characterized the inflammatory process and the nociceptive behaviour of the rats in the course of AIA.
Materials and methods:
In 33 female Lewis rats 10 weeks old, AIA was induced in the right knee joint. First the rats were immunized in two steps with methylated bovine serum albumin (m-BSA) emulsified with Freund's complete adjuvant, and heat-inactivated Bordetella pertussis. After immunization, m-BSA was injected into the right knee joint cavity to induce arthritis. The joint swelling was measured at regular intervals. Nociceptive (pain) responses to mechanical stimulation of the injected and the contralateral knee were monitored in the course of AIA. Groups of rats were killed at different time points after the induction of AIA, and inflammation and destruction in the knee joint were graded by histological examination. The DRGs of both sides were dissected from segments L1–L5 and C1–C7 from arthritic rats, from eight immunized rats without arthritis and from ten normal control rats. Excised DRGs were dissociated into single cells which were cultured for 18 h.
The expression of the receptors was determined by assessment of the binding of SP-gold or BK-gold to the cultured neurons. For this purpose the cells were slightly fixed. Binding of SP-gold or BK-gold was detected by using enhancement with silver and subsequent densitometric analysis of the relative grey values of the neurons. Displacement controls were performed with SP, the specific NK1 receptor agonist [Sar9, Met(O2)11]-SP, BK, the specific BK 1 (B1) receptor agonist D-Arg (Hyp3-Thi5,8-D-Phe7)-BK and the specific BK 2 (B2) receptor agonist (Des-Arg10)-Lys-BK.
Results:
The inflammatory process in the injected right knee joint started on the first day after induction of AIA and persisted throughout the observation period of 84 days (Fig. 1). The initial phase of AIA was characterized by strong joint swelling and a predominantly granulocytic infiltration of the synovial membrane and the joint cavity (acute inflammatory changes). In the later phases of AIA (10–84 days after induction of AIA) the joint showed persistent swelling, and signs of chronic arthritic alterations such as infiltration of mononuclear leucocytes, hyperplasia of synovial lining layer (pannus formation) and erosions of cartilage and bone were predominant. The contralateral knee joints appeared normal at all time points. Destruction was observed only in the injected knee but some proteoglycan loss was also noted in the non-injected, contralateral knee. In the acute and initial chronic phases of AIA (1–29 days) the rats showed mechanical hyperalgesia in the inflamed knee (limping, withdrawal response to gentle pressure onto the knee). In the acute phase (up to 9 days) a pain response was also seen when gentle pressure was applied to the contralateral knee.
Figure 2 displays the changes in the receptor expression in the DRG neurons during AIA. The expression of SP–gold-binding sites in lumbar DRG neurons (Fig. 2a) was substantially increased in the acute phase of arthritis. In untreated control rats (n = 5), 7.7 ± 3.8% of the DRG neurons from the right side and 10.0 ± 1.7% of the DRG neurons from the left side showed labelling with SP–gold. The proportion of SP–gold-labelled neurons in immunized animals without knee injection (n = 3) was similar. By contrast, at days 1 (n = 2 rats) and 3 (n = 5 rats) of AIA in the right knee, approximately 50% of the DRG neurons exhibited labelling with SP–gold, and this was seen both on the side of the injected knee and on the opposite side. At day 10 of AIA (n = 3 rats), 26.3 ± 6.1% of the ipsilateral DRG neurons but only 15.7 ± 0.6% of the contralateral neurons exhibited binding of SP–gold. At days 21 (n = 5 rats), 42 (n = 3 rats) and 84 (n = 5 rats) of AIA, the proportion of SP–gold-positive neurons had returned to the control values, although the arthritis, now with signs of chronic inflammation, was still present. Compared with the DRG neurons of the untreated control rats, the increase in the proportion of labelled neurons was significant on both sides in the acute phase (days 1 and 3) and the intermediate phase (day 10) of AIA (Mann–Whitney U-test). The size distribution of the neurons was similar in the DRG neurons of all experimental groups. Under all conditions and at all time points, SP–gold binding was found mainly in small and medium-sized (less than 700 μm2) neurons. In the cervical DRGs the expression of NK1 receptors did not change in the course of AIA. The binding of SP–gold to the neurons was suppressed by the coadministration of the specific NK1 receptor agonist [Sar9, Met(O2)11]–SP in three experiments, showing that SP–gold was bound to NK1 receptors.
The expression of BK–gold-binding sites in the lumbar DRG neurons showed also changes in the course of AIA, but the pattern was different (Fig. 2b). In untreated control rats (n = 5), 42.3 ± 3.1% of the DRG neurons of the right side and 39.6 ± 2.6% of the DRG neurons of the left side showed binding of BK–gold. At days 1 (n = 2 rats) and 3 (n = 5 rats) of AIA, approximately 80% of the DRG neurons on the side of the knee injection (ipsilateral) and approximately 70% on the opposite side were labelled. In comparison with the untreated control group, the increase in the proportion of labelled neurons was significant on both sides. The proportion of labelled neurons in the ipsilateral DRGs remained significantly increased in both the intermediate phase (day 10, n = 3 rats) and chronic phase (days 21, n = 5 rats, and 42, n = 3 rats) of inflammation. At 84 days after the induction of AIA (n = 5 rats), 51.0 ± 12.7% of the neurons showed an expression of BK–gold-binding sites and this was close to the prearthritic values. However, in the contralateral DRG of the same animals the proportion of BK–gold-labelled neurons declined in the intermediate phase (day 10) and chronic phase (days 21–84) of AIA and was not significantly different from the control value. Thus the increase in BK–gold-labelled neurons was persistent on the side where the inflammation had been induced, and transient on the opposite side. The size distribution of the DRG neurons of the different experimental groups was similar. In the cervical DRGs the expression of BK receptors did not change in the course of AIA. In another series of experiments, we determined the subtype(s) of BK receptor(s) that were expressed in DRGs L1–L5 in different experimental groups. In neither untreated control animals (n = 5) nor immunized rats without knee injection (n = 5) nor in rats at 3 days (n = 5) and 42 days (n = 5) of AIA was the binding of BK–gold decreased by the coadministration of BK–gold and the B1 agonist. By contrast, in these experimental groups the binding of BK–gold was suppressed by the coadministration of the B2 agonist. These results show that B2 receptors, but not B1 receptors, were expressed in both normal animals and in animals with AIA.
Discussion:
These results show that in AIA in the rat the expression of SP-binding and BK-binding sites in the perikarya of DRGs L1–L5 is markedly upregulated in the course of knee inflammation. Although the inflammation was induced on one side only, the initial changes in the binding sites were found in the lumbar DRGs of both sides. No upregulation of SP-binding or BK-binding sites was observed in the cervical DRGs. The expression of SP-binding sites was upregulated only in the first days of AIA, that is, in the acute phase, in which the pain responses to mechanical stimulation were most pronounced. By contrast, the upregulation of BK-binding sites on the side of AIA persisted for up to 42 days, that is, in the acute and chronic phase of AIA. Only the B2 receptor, not the B1 receptor, was upregulated. The coincidence of the enhanced expression of NK1 and BK receptors on sensory neurons and the pain behaviour suggests that the upregulation of these receptors is relevant for the generation and maintenance of arthritic pain.
In the acute phase of AIA, approximately 50% of the lumbar DRG neurons showed an expression of SP-binding sites. Because peptide receptors are transported to the periphery, the marked upregulation of SP-binding receptors probably leads to an enhanced density of receptors in the sensory endings of the primary afferent units. This will permit SP to sensitize more neurons under inflammatory conditions than under normal conditions. However, the expression of NK1 receptors was upregulated only in the acute phase of inflammation, suggesting that SP and NK1 receptors are less important for the generation of hyperalgesia in the chronic phase of AIA.
Because BK is one of the most potent algesic compounds, the functional consequence of the upregulation of BK receptors is likely to be of immediate importance for the generation and maintenance of inflammatory pain. The persistence of the upregulation of BK receptors on the side of inflammation suggests that BK receptors should be an interesting target for pain treatment in the acute and chronic phases. Only B2 receptors were identified in normal animals and in rats with AIA. This is surprising because previous pharmacological studies have provided evidence that, during inflammation, B1 receptors can be newly expressed.
Receptor upregulation in the acute phase of AIA was bilateral and almost symmetrical. However, hyperalgesia was much more pronounced on the inflamed side. It is most likely that receptors on the contralateral side were not readily activated because in the absence of gross inflammation the local concentration of the ligands BK and SP was probably quite low. We hypothesize that the bilateral changes in receptor expression are generated at least in part by mechanisms involving the nervous system. Symmetrical segmental changes can be produced only by the symmetrical innervation, involving either the sympathetic nervous system or the primary afferent fibres. Under inflammatory conditions, primary afferent fibres can be antidromically activated bilaterally in the entry zone of afferent fibres in the spinal cord, and it was proposed that this antidromic activation might release neuropeptides and thus contribute to neurogenic inflammation. Because both sympathetic efferent fibres and primary afferent nerve fibres can aggravate inflammatory symptoms, it is also conceivable that they are involved in the regulation of receptor expression in primary afferent neurons. A neurogenic mechanism might also have been responsible for the bilateral degradation of articular cartilage in the present study.
PMCID: PMC17819  PMID: 11056677
antigen-induced arthritis; bradykinin receptor; dorsal root ganglion neurons; neurokinin 1 receptor; pain
8.  Interleukin 17 synergises with tumour necrosis factor α to induce cartilage destruction in vitro 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2002;61(10):870-876.
Background: Interleukin 17 (IL17) is produced by activated T cells and has been implicated in the development of bone lesions and cartilage degradation in rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Objective: To determine whether IL17, alone or together with tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα), induces cartilage destruction in vitro.
Methods: Fetal mouse metatarsals stripped of endogenous osteoclast precursors were used to study the effect of IL17 on cartilage degradation independently of osteoclastic resorption. Cartilage destruction was analysed histologically by Alcian blue staining.
Results: IL17 alone, up to 100 ng/ml, had no effect on the cartilage of fetal mouse metatarsals. IL17 (≥0.1 ng/ml), however, induced severe cartilage degradation when given together with TNFα (≥1 ng/ml). The cytokine combination decreased Alcian blue staining, a marker of proteoglycans, throughout the metatarsals and induced loss of the proliferating and early hypertrophic chondrocyte zones. TNFα alone also decreased Alcian blue staining, but not as dramatically as the cytokine combination. In addition, it did not induce loss of chondrocyte zones. Treatment with inhibitors of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) activity and nitric oxide synthesis showed that MMP activity played a part in cartilage degradation, whereas nitric oxide production did not.
Conclusions: IL17, together with TNFα, induced cartilage degradation in fetal mouse metatarsals in vitro. IL17 may, therefore, participate in the development of cartilage destruction associated with RA by enhancing the effects of TNFα and may provide a potential therapeutic target.
doi:10.1136/ard.61.10.870
PMCID: PMC1753923  PMID: 12228154
9.  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.
Introduction:
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.
Objectives:
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.
Results:
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).
Discussion:
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
10.  Regulation of Peripheral Inflammation by Spinal p38 MAP Kinase in Rats 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(9):e338.
Background
Somatic afferent input to the spinal cord from a peripheral inflammatory site can modulate the peripheral response. However, the intracellular signaling mechanisms in the spinal cord that regulate this linkage have not been defined. Previous studies suggest spinal cord p38 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase and cytokines participate in nociceptive behavior. We therefore determined whether these pathways also regulate peripheral inflammation in rat adjuvant arthritis, which is a model of rheumatoid arthritis.
Methods and Findings
Selective blockade of spinal cord p38 MAP kinase by administering the p38 inhibitor SB203580 via intrathecal (IT) catheters in rats with adjuvant arthritis markedly suppressed paw swelling, inhibited synovial inflammation, and decreased radiographic evidence of joint destruction. The same dose of SB203580 delivered systemically had no effect, indicating that the effect was mediated by local concentrations in the neural compartment. Evaluation of articular gene expression by quantitative real-time PCR showed that spinal p38 inhibition markedly decreased synovial interleukin-1 and −6 and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP3) gene expression. Activation of p38 required tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) in the nervous system because IT etanercept (a TNF inhibitor) given during adjuvant arthritis blocked spinal p38 phosphorylation and reduced clinical signs of adjuvant arthritis.
Conclusions
These data suggest that peripheral inflammation is sensed by the central nervous system (CNS), which subsequently activates stress-induced kinases in the spinal cord via a TNFα-dependent mechanism. Intracellular p38 MAP kinase signaling processes this information and profoundly modulates somatic inflammatory responses. Characterization of this mechanism could have clinical and basic research implications by supporting development of new treatments for arthritis and clarifying how the CNS regulates peripheral immune responses.
Inhibition of p38 MAP kinase in the CNS reduces peripheral inflammation and joint destruction in arthritic rats.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease marked by chronic inflammation, leading to joint pain and destruction. Pain and inflammation in the joints as well as other locations in the body (i.e., the “periphery”) are constantly monitored by the central nervous system (i.e., the brain and spinal cord). Scientists have long suspected that the central nervous system (CNS) can regulate inflammation and immune responses, but little is known about how the CNS does this. One potential player is a protein called p38 that is involved in a number of cellular processes critical to the development of rheumatoid arthritis. Several substances that block the action of p38 are effective in animal models of arthritis and are currently being tested in clinical trials in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Originally, p38 was considered as a drug target that should mainly be blocked in the joints. But recent work has shown that pain in the periphery can lead to activation of p38 in the spinal cord, and that blocking p38 in the spinal cord might reduce peripheral pain.
Why Was This Study Done?
Based on the observation that p38 is activated in the CNS in response to peripheral pain, the researchers who did this study wondered whether it might be involved in the interaction between inflammation in the joints and the CNS.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
They induced inflammation in the joints of rats and then looked for responses in the spinal cord. They found that p38 was indeed activated in the spinal cord of these rats. This activation depended on another protein, called TNFα, which is another major regulator of inflammation. The scientists then blocked either p38 or the TNFα with drugs directly delivered to the spinal cord of the arthritic rats, they could substantially reduce inflammation, arthritis, and destruction of the joints, compared with rats that had undergone the same treatment but received no active drug. Treatment of arthritic rats with the same amount of drugs given directly under the skin (this is called “systemic treatment”) did not have any effect on the joints.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Blocking p38 and TNFα by giving drugs systemically is known to have beneficial effects in animal models and human patients with rheumatoid arthritis. However, the drugs tested in patients to date also have side effects. Given that much lower doses were needed to achieve beneficial effects in the rats when the drugs were administered directly into the spinal cord, it is possible that spinal cord administration might reduce the side effects (and possibly the costs) of the drugs without compromising the benefits to the patients. If future studies confirm that the action of these drugs on the CNS is essential to achieve a response even when administered as a systemic treatment, designing drugs that get into the CNS easier might improve the effectiveness and/or make it possible to use lower doses systemically.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030338.
MedlinePlus entry on rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis pages from the US National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Rheumatoid Arthritis fact sheet from the American College of Rheumatology Description
Wikipedia entry on rheumatoid arthritis (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030338
PMCID: PMC1560929  PMID: 16953659
11.  MT1-MMP is a crucial promotor of synovial invasion in human rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2009;60(3):686.
Objective
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1002/art.24331
PMCID: PMC2819053  PMID: 19248098
MT1-MMP; synovial pannus; rheumatoid arthritis
12.  Macrophage migration inhibitory factor: a mediator of matrix metalloproteinase-2 production in rheumatoid arthritis 
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by destruction of bone and cartilage, which is mediated, in part, by synovial fibroblasts. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are a large family of proteolytic enzymes responsible for matrix degradation. Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) is a cytokine that induces the production of a large number of proinflammatory molecules and has an important role in the pathogenesis of RA by promoting inflammation and angiogenesis.
In the present study, we determined the role of MIF in RA synovial fibroblast MMP production and the underlying signaling mechanisms. We found that MIF induces RA synovial fibroblast MMP-2 expression in a time-dependent and concentration-dependent manner. To elucidate the role of MIF in MMP-2 production, we produced zymosan-induced arthritis (ZIA) in MIF gene-deficient and wild-type mice. We found that MMP-2 protein levels were significantly decreased in MIF gene-deficient compared with wild-type mice joint homogenates. The expression of MMP-2 in ZIA was evaluated by immunohistochemistry (IHC). IHC revealed that MMP-2 is highly expressed in wild-type compared with MIF gene-deficient mice ZIA joints. Interestingly, synovial lining cells, endothelial cells, and sublining nonlymphoid mononuclear cells expressed MMP-2 in the ZIA synovium. Consistent with these results, in methylated BSA (mBSA) antigen-induced arthritis (AIA), a model of RA, enhanced MMP-2 expression was also observed in wild-type compared with MIF gene-deficient mice joints. To elucidate the signaling mechanisms in MIF-induced MMP-2 upregulation, RA synovial fibroblasts were stimulated with MIF in the presence of signaling inhibitors. We found that MIF-induced RA synovial fibroblast MMP-2 upregulation required the protein kinase C (PKC), c-jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), and Src signaling pathways. We studied the expression of MMP-2 in the presence of PKC isoform-specific inhibitors and found that the PKCδ inhibitor rottlerin inhibits MIF-induced RA synovial fibroblast MMP-2 production. Consistent with these results, MIF induced phosphorylation of JNK, PKCδ, and c-jun. These results indicate a potential novel role for MIF in tissue destruction in RA.
doi:10.1186/ar2021
PMCID: PMC1779381  PMID: 16872482
13.  In vitro model for the analysis of synovial fibroblast-mediated degradation of intact cartilage 
Introduction
Activated synovial fibroblasts are thought to play a major role in the destruction of cartilage in chronic, inflammatory rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, profound insight into the pathogenic mechanisms and the impact of synovial fibroblasts in the initial early stages of cartilage destruction is limited. Hence, the present study sought to establish a standardised in vitro model for early cartilage destruction with native, intact cartilage in order to analyse the matrix-degrading capacity of synovial fibroblasts and their influence on cartilage metabolism.
Methods
A standardised model was established by co-culturing bovine cartilage discs with early-passage human synovial fibroblasts for 14 days under continuous stimulation with TNF-α, IL-1β or a combination of TNF-α/IL-1β. To assess cartilage destruction, the co-cultures were analysed by histology, immunohistochemistry, electron microscopy and laser scanning microscopy. In addition, content and/or neosynthesis of the matrix molecules cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP) and collagen II was quantified. Finally, gene and protein expression of matrix-degrading enzymes and pro-inflammatory cytokines were profiled in both synovial fibroblasts and cartilage.
Results
Histological and immunohistological analyses revealed that non-stimulated synovial fibroblasts are capable of demasking/degrading cartilage matrix components (proteoglycans, COMP, collagen) and stimulated synovial fibroblasts clearly augment chondrocyte-mediated, cytokine-induced cartilage destruction. Cytokine stimulation led to an upregulation of tissue-degrading enzymes (aggrecanases I/II, matrix-metalloproteinase (MMP) 1, MMP-3) and pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-6 and IL-8) in both cartilage and synovial fibroblasts. In general, the activity of tissue-degrading enzymes was consistently higher in co-cultures with synovial fibroblasts than in cartilage monocultures. In addition, stimulated synovial fibroblasts suppressed the synthesis of collagen type II mRNA in cartilage.
Conclusions
The results demonstrate for the first time the capacity of synovial fibroblasts to degrade intact cartilage matrix by disturbing the homeostasis of cartilage via the production of catabolic enzymes/pro-inflammatory cytokines and suppression of anabolic matrix synthesis (i.e., collagen type II). This new in vitro model may closely reflect the complex process of early stage in vivo destruction in RA and help to elucidate the role of synovial fibroblasts and other synovial cells in this process, and the molecular mechanisms involved in cartilage degradation.
doi:10.1186/ar2618
PMCID: PMC2688258  PMID: 19226472
14.  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.


doi:10.1136/ard.59.6.455
PMCID: PMC1753174  PMID: 10834863
15.  The Critical Role of the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor in Endochondral Ossification 
Loss of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) activity in mice alters growth plate development, impairs endochondral ossification, and retards growth. However, the detailed mechanism by which EGFR regulates endochondral bone formation is unknown. Here, we show that administration of an EGFR-specific small molecule inhibitor, gefitinib, into 1-month-old rats for 7 days produced profound defects in long bone growth plate cartilage characterized by epiphyseal growth plate thickening and massive accumulation of hypertrophic chondrocytes. Immunostaining demonstrated that growth plate chondrocytes express EGFR but endothelial cells and osteoclasts show little to no expression. Gefitinib did not alter chondrocyte proliferation or differentiation and vascular invasion into the hypertrophic cartilage. However, osteoclast recruitment and differentiation at the chondro-osseous junction was attenuated due to decreased RANKL expression in the growth plate. Moreover, gefitinib treatment inhibited the expression of matrix metalloproteinases (MMP9, 13, and 14), increased the amount of collagen fibrils, and decreased degraded extracellular matrix products in the growth plate. In vitro, the EGFR ligand TGFα strongly stimulated RANKL, MMP9 and MMP13 expression and suppressed OPG expression in primary chondrocytes. In addition, a mouse model of cartilage-specific EGFR inactivation exhibited a similar phenotype of hypertrophic cartilage enlargement. Together, our data demonstrate that EGFR signaling supports osteoclastogenesis at the chondro-osseous junction and promotes chondrogenic expression of MMPs in the growth plate. Therefore, we conclude that EGFR signaling plays an essential role in the remodeling of growth plate cartilage extracellular matrix into bone during endochondral ossification.
doi:10.1002/jbmr.502
PMCID: PMC3200483  PMID: 21887704
EGFR; endochondral ossification; growth plate; chondrocytes; MMP
16.  NADPH-oxidase-driven oxygen radical production determines chondrocyte death and partly regulates metalloproteinase-mediated cartilage matrix degradation during interferon-γ-stimulated immune complex arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2005;7(4):R885-R895.
In previous studies we have found that FcγRI determines chondrocyte death and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-mediated cartilage destruction during IFN-γ-regulated immune complex arthritis (ICA). Binding of immune complexes (ICs) to FcγRI leads to the prominent production of oxygen radicals. In the present study we investigated the contribution of NADPH-oxidase-driven oxygen radicals to cartilage destruction by using p47phox-/- mice lacking a functional NADPH oxidase complex. Induction of a passive ICA in the knee joints of p47phox-/- mice resulted in a significant elevation of joint inflammation at day 3 when compared with wild-type (WT) controls as studied by histology. However, when IFN-γ was overexpressed by injection of adenoviral IFN-γ in the knee joint before ICA induction, a similar influx of inflammatory cells was found at days 3 and 7, comprising mainly macrophages in both mouse strains. Proteoglycan depletion from the cartilage layers of the knee joints in both groups was similar at days 3 and 7. Aggrecan breakdown in cartilage caused by MMPs was further studied by immunolocalisation of MMP-mediated neoepitopes (VDIPEN). VDIPEN expression in the cartilage layers of arthritic knee joints was markedly lower (between 30 and 60%) in IFN-γ-stimulated arthritic p47phox-/- mice at day 7 than in WT controls, despite significant upregulation of mRNA levels of various MMPs such as MMP-3, MMP-9, MMP-12 and MMP-13 in synovia and MMP-13 in cartilage layers as measured with quantitative RT-PCR. The latter observation suggests that oxygen radicals are involved in the activation of latent MMPs. Chondrocyte death, determined as the percentage of empty lacunae in articular cartilage, ranged between 20 and 60% at day 3 and between 30 and 80% at day 7 in WT mice, and was completely blocked in p47phox-/- mice at both time points. FcγRI mRNA expression was significantly lower, and FcγRII and FcγRIII were higher, in p47phox-/- mice than in controls. NADPH-oxidase-driven oxygen radical production determines chondrocyte death and aggravates MMP-mediated cartilage destruction during IFN-γ-stimulated IC-mediated arthritis. Upregulation of FcγRI by oxygen radicals may contribute to cartilage destruction.
doi:10.1186/ar1760
PMCID: PMC1175041  PMID: 15987491
17.  Key regulatory molecules of cartilage destruction in rheumatoid arthritis: an in vitro study 
Background
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic, inflammatory and systemic autoimmune disease that leads to progressive cartilage destruction. Advances in the treatment of RA-related destruction of cartilage require profound insights into the molecular mechanisms involved in cartilage degradation. Until now, comprehensive data about the molecular RA-related dysfunction of chondrocytes have been limited. Hence, the objective of this study was to establish a standardized in vitro model to profile the key regulatory molecules of RA-related destruction of cartilage that are expressed by human chondrocytes.
Methods
Human chondrocytes were cultured three-dimensionally for 14 days in alginate beads and subsequently stimulated for 48 hours with supernatants from SV40 T-antigen immortalized human synovial fibroblasts (SF) derived from a normal donor (NDSF) and from a patient with RA (RASF), respectively. To identify RA-related factors released from SF, supernatants of RASF and NDSF were analyzed with antibody-based protein membrane arrays. Stimulated cartilage-like cultures were used for subsequent gene expression profiling with oligonucleotide microarrays. Affymetrix GeneChip Operating Software and Robust Multi-array Analysis (RMA) were used to identify differentially expressed genes. Expression of selected genes was verified by real-time RT-PCR.
Results
Antibody-based protein membrane arrays of synovial fibroblast supernatants identified RA-related soluble mediators (IL-6, CCL2, CXCL1–3, CXCL8) released from RASF. Genome-wide microarray analysis of RASF-stimulated chondrocytes disclosed a distinct expression profile related to cartilage destruction involving marker genes of inflammation (adenosine A2A receptor, cyclooxygenase-2), the NF-κB signaling pathway (toll-like receptor 2, spermine synthase, receptor-interacting serine-threonine kinase 2), cytokines/chemokines and receptors (CXCL1–3, CXCL8, CCL20, CXCR4, IL-1β, IL-6), cartilage degradation (matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-10, MMP-12) and suppressed matrix synthesis (cartilage oligomeric matrix protein, chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan 2).
Conclusion
Differential transcriptome profiling of stimulated human chondrocytes revealed a disturbed catabolic–anabolic homeostasis of chondrocyte function and disclosed relevant pharmacological target genes of cartilage destruction. This study provides comprehensive insight into molecular regulatory processes induced in human chondrocytes during RA-related destruction of cartilage. The established model may serve as a human in vitro disease model of RA-related destruction of cartilage and may help to elucidate the molecular effects of anti-rheumatic drugs on human chondrocyte gene expression.
doi:10.1186/ar2358
PMCID: PMC2374452  PMID: 18205922
18.  Local IL-13 gene transfer prior to immune-complex arthritis inhibits chondrocyte death and matrix-metalloproteinase-mediated cartilage matrix degradation despite enhanced joint inflammation 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2005;7(2):R392-R401.
During immune-complex-mediated arthritis (ICA), severe cartilage destruction is mediated by Fcγ receptors (FcγRs) (mainly FcγRI), cytokines (e.g. IL-1), and enzymes (matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs)). IL-13, a T helper 2 (Th2) cytokine abundantly found in synovial fluid of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, has been shown to reduce joint inflammation and bone destruction during experimental arthritis. However, the effect on severe cartilage destruction has not been studied in detail. We have now investigated the role of IL-13 in chondrocyte death and MMP-mediated cartilage damage during ICA. IL-13 was locally overexpressed in knee joints after injection of an adenovirus encoding IL-13 (AxCAhIL-13), 1 day before the onset of arthritis; injection of AxCANI (an empty adenoviral construct) was used as a control. IL-13 significantly increased the amount of inflammatory cells in the synovial lining and the joint cavity, by 30% to 60% at day 3 after the onset of ICA. Despite the enhanced inflammatory response, chondrocyte death was diminished by two-thirds at days 3 and 7. The mRNA level of FcγRI, a receptor shown to be crucial in the induction of chondrocyte death, was significantly down-regulated in synovium. Furthermore, MMP-mediated cartilage damage, measured as neoepitope (VDIPEN) expression using immunolocalization, was halved. In contrast, mRNA levels of MMP-3, -9, -12, and -13 were significantly higher and IL-1 protein, which induces production of latent MMPs, was increased fivefold by IL-13. This study demonstrates that IL-13 overexpression during ICA diminished both chondrocyte death and MMP-mediated VDIPEN expression, even though joint inflammation was enhanced.
doi:10.1186/ar1502
PMCID: PMC1065337  PMID: 15743487
cartilage destruction; experimental arthritis; interleukin-13; Fcγ receptors; MMPs
19.  Tartrate resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) positive cells in rheumatoid synovium may induce the destruction of articular cartilage 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2003;62(3):196-203.
Objective: To examine the role of tartrate resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) positive mononuclear and multinucleated cells in the destruction of articular cartilage in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods: The presence of TRAP positive cells in the synovial tissue of patients with RA was examined by enzyme histochemistry and immunohistochemistry. Expression of mRNAs for matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) was assessed by the reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and northern blot analysis. Production of MMPs by mononuclear and multinucleated TRAP positive cells was examined by immunocytochemistry, enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) of conditioned medium, and immunohistochemistry of human RA synovial tissue. In addition, a cartilage degradation assay was performed by incubation of 35S prelabelled cartilage discs with TRAP positive cells.
Results: TRAP positive mononuclear cells and multinucleated cells were found in proliferating synovial tissue adjacent to the bone-cartilage interface in patients with RA. Expression of MMP-2 (gelatinase A), MMP-9 (gelatinase B), MMP-12 (macrophage metalloelastase), and MMP-14 (MT1-MMP) mRNA was detected in TRAP positive mononuclear and multinucleated cells by both RT-PCR and northern blot analysis. Immunocytochemistry for these MMPs showed that MMP-2 and MMP-9 were produced by both TRAP positive mononuclear and multinucleated cells, whereas MMP-12 and MMP-14 were produced by TRAP positive multinucleated cells. MMP-2 and MMP-9 were detected in the conditioned medium of TRAP positive mononuclear cells. TRAP positive mononuclear cells also induced the release of 35S from prelabelled cartilage discs.
Conclusion: This study suggests that TRAP positive mononuclear and multinucleated cells located in the synovium at the cartilage-synovial interface produce MMP-2 and MMP-9, and may have an important role in articular cartilage destruction in patients with RA.
doi:10.1136/ard.62.3.196
PMCID: PMC1754448  PMID: 12594102
20.  Matrix metalloproteinase inhibitors in rheumatic diseases 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2001;60(Suppl 3):iii62-iii67.
The rheumatic diseases continue to represent a significant healthcare burden in the 21st century. However, despite the best standard of care and recent therapeutic advances it is still not possible to consistently prevent the progressive joint destruction that leads to chronic disability. In rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis this progressive cartilage and bone destruction is considered to be driven by an excess of the matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) enzymes. Consequently, a great number of potent small molecule MMP inhibitors have been examined. Several MMP inhibitors have entered clinical trials as a result of impressive data in animal models, although only one MMP inhibitor, Ro32-3555 (Trocade), a collagenase selective inhibitor, has been fully tested in the clinic, but it did not prevent progression of joint damage in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
  The key stages and challenges associated with the development of an MMP inhibitor in the rheumatic diseases are presented below with particular reference to Trocade. It is concluded that the future success of MMP inhibitors necessitates a greater understanding of the joint destructive process and it is hoped that their development may be accompanied with clearer, more practical, outcome measures to test these drugs for, what remains, an unmet medical need.


doi:10.1136/ard.60.90003.iii62
PMCID: PMC1766680  PMID: 11890658
21.  Depletion of alpha/beta T cells by a monoclonal antibody against the alpha/beta T cell receptor suppresses established adjuvant arthritis, but not established collagen-induced arthritis in rats 
The effects of treatment with a monoclonal antibody (R73 mAb) against T cell receptor alpha/beta (TCR-alpha/beta) on both established adjuvant arthritis (EAA) and established collagen-induced arthritis (ECIA) in rats have been investigated. Rats were treated with R73 mAb when arthritis reached a peak. Treatment with the anti-TCR-alpha/beta mAb markedly suppressed EAA, whereas ECIA was not affected by the mAb treatment. Histologically, R73 mAb-treated rats with EAA showed mild hyperplasia of synovial tissues, sparse infiltration of inflammatory cells, and minimal erosion of cartilage, whereas arthritic rats treated with PBS and an irrelevant control mAb against Giardia had marked hyperplasia of synovium with pannus, massive inflammatory cell infiltrate, and severe destruction of cartilage and subchondral bone. R73 mAb-treated rats with ECIA exhibited pronounced formation of pannus containing many inflammatory cells and marked cartilage and subchondral damage similar to those in arthritic rats that received the control treatments. Treatment with R73 mAb depleted markedly alpha/beta+ T cells in both peripheral blood and synovial tissues of rats with EAA and ECIA. R73 mAb treatment was associated with marked reduction in arthritogen-specific delayed-type hypersensitivity responses in both EAA and ECIA. The titers of antibodies against type II collagen produced in rats with ECIA were not affected by the mAb. Thus, alpha/beta+ T cells appear to have a central role in EAA, but not in chronic ECIA.
PMCID: PMC2119191  PMID: 1372648
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.
Aims:
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.
Methods:
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.
Results:
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).
Discussion:
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.  Invasive properties of fibroblast-like synoviocytes: correlation with growth characteristics and expression of MMP-1, MMP-3, and MMP-10 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2002;61(11):975-980.
Background: Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) have a pivotal role in the destruction of cartilage in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which is mediated by the fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS).
Objective: To examine the in vitro invasiveness of synoviocytes obtained from inflamed joints of patients with arthritis in relation to the expression of MMP 1–14, 17, 19, cathepsin-K, the tissue inhibitors of matrix metalloproteinases TIMP-1 and TIMP-2 by FLS.
Methods: FLS were derived from 56 patients (30 with RA, 17 with osteoarthritis (OA), and nine with avascular necrosis (AVN)). Invasive growth of FLS through an artificial matrix (Matrigel) was measured in a transwell system. The number of cells that migrated through the matrix were counted. Proliferation rate was determined by counting the FLS after seven days of culturing. Expression of MMPs, cathepsin-K and TIMPs was investigated with reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction and related to the expression of a household gene, ß-actin.
Results: FLS from RA showed greater invasive growth than FLS from OA and AVN. The median number of cells that grew through the matrix membrane was 4788 for RA, significantly higher than the number for OA, 1875 (p<0.001) and for AVN, 1530 (p=0.014). The median rate of proliferation of RA FLS was 0.27 per day compared with OA 0.22 per day (p= 0.012) and AVN 0.25 per day, but there was no correlation between the rate of proliferation and invasive growth in vitro. FLS from RA and OA that expressed MMP-1, MMP-3, or MMP-10 were significantly more invasive (median number of invasive cells: 3835, 4248, 4990, respectively) than cells that did not express these MMPs (1605, p=0.03; 1970, p=0.004; 2360, p=0.012, respectively). There was also a significant relationship between the expression of MMP-1 and MMP-9 and the diagnosis RA (both p=0.013). The expression levels of mRNA for MMP-1 and MMP-2 correlated with the protein levels produced by the synoviocytes as measured by an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).
Conclusion: FLS of RA invade more aggressively in a Matrigel matrix than OA and AVN FLS; this is not because of a higher rate of proliferation of RA FLS. The significant correlation between the expression of MMP-1, MMP-3, and MMP-10 and invasive growth in a Matrigel transwell system suggests that these MMPs play a part in the invasive growth of FLS obtained from patients with RA.
doi:10.1136/ard.61.11.975
PMCID: PMC1753950  PMID: 12379519
24.  Matrix metalloproteinase-8 deficiency increases joint inflammation and bone erosion in the K/BxN serum-transfer arthritis model 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2010;12(6):R224.
Introduction
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which joint inflammation leads to progressive cartilage and bone erosion. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) implicated in homeostasis of the extracellular matrix play a central role in cartilage degradation. However, the role of specific MMPs in arthritis pathogenesis is largely unknown. The aim of the present study was to investigate the role of Mmp-8 (collagenase-2) in an arthritis model.
Methods
Arthritis was induced in Mmp8-deficient and wildtype mice by K/BxN serum transfer. Arthritis severity was measured by a clinical index and ankle sections were scored for synovial inflammation, cartilage damage and bone erosion. cDNA microarray analysis, real-time PCR and western blot were performed to identify differential changes in gene expression between mice lacking Mmp8 and controls.
Results
Mmp8 deficiency increased the severity of arthritis, although the incidence of disease was similar in control and deficient mice. Increased clinical score was associated with exacerbated synovial inflammation and bone erosion. We also found that the absence of Mmp8 led to increased expression of IL-1β, pentraxin-3 (PTX3) and prokineticin receptor 2 (PROKR2) in arthritic mice joints.
Conclusions
Lack of Mmp-8 is accompanied by exacerbated synovial inflammation and bone erosion in the K/BxN serum-transfer arthritis model, indicating that this Mmp has a protective role in arthritis.
doi:10.1186/ar3211
PMCID: PMC3046537  PMID: 21190566
25.  Urokinase-type plasminogen activator and arthritis progression: contrasting roles in systemic and monoarticular arthritis models 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2010;12(5):R199.
Introduction
Urokinase-type plasminogen activator (u-PA) has been implicated in tissue destruction/remodeling. The absence of u-PA results in resistance of mice to systemic immune complex-driven arthritis models; monoarticular arthritis models involving an intra-articular (i.a.) antigen injection, on the other hand, develop more severe arthritis in its absence. The aims of the current study are to investigate further these contrasting roles that u-PA can play in the pathogenesis of inflammatory arthritis and to determine whether u-PA is required for the cartilage and bone destruction associated with disease progression.
Methods
To determine how the different pathogenic mechanisms leading to arthritis development in the different models may explain the contrasting requirement for u-PA, the systemic, polyarticular, immune complex-driven K/BxN arthritis model was modified to include an i.a. injection of saline as a local trauma in u-PA-/- mice. This modified model and the antigen-induced arthritis (AIA) model were also used in u-PA-/- mice to determine the requirement for u-PA in joint destruction. Disease severity was determined by clinical and histologic scoring. Fibrin(ogen) staining and the matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-generated neoepitope DIPEN staining were performed by immunohistochemistry. Gene expression of inflammatory and destructive mediators was measured in joint tissue by quantitative PCR.
Results
In our modified arthritis model, u-PA-/- mice went from being resistant to arthritis development following K/BxN serum transfer to being susceptible following the addition of an i.a. injection of saline. u-PA-/- mice also developed more sustained AIA compared with C57BL/6 mice, including reduced proteoglycan levels and increased bone erosions, fibrin(ogen) deposition and DIPEN expression. Synovial gene expression of the proinflammatory mediators (TNF and IL-1β), aggrecanases (ADAMTS-4 and -5) and MMPs (MMP3 and MMP13) were all sustained over time following AIA induction in u-PA-/- mice compared with C57BL/6 mice.
Conclusions
We propose that u-PA has a protective role in arthritis models with 'wound healing-like' processes following local trauma, possibly through u-PA/plasmin-mediated fibrinolysis, but a deleterious role in systemic models that are critically dependent on immune complex formation and complement activation. Given that cartilage proteoglycan loss and bone erosions were present and sustained in u-PA-/- mice with monoarticular arthritis, it is unlikely that u-PA/plasmin-mediated proteolysis is contributing directly to this tissue destruction/remodeling.
doi:10.1186/ar3171
PMCID: PMC2991036  PMID: 20973954

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