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1.  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
2.  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
3.  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.
PMCID: PMC1175041  PMID: 15987491
4.  Retinal Pigment Epithelium Protection From Oxidant-mediated Loss of MMP-2 Activation Requires Both MMP-14 and TIMP-2 
Eyes with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) demonstrate accumulation of specific deposits and extracellular matrix (ECM) molecules under the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). Metalloproteinases (MMP) are crucial regulators of basement membrane and ECM turnover. Accordingly, loss of RPE MMP activity likely leads to excessive accumulation of collagen and other ECM, a potential mechanism for deposit formation. We have previously shown that MMP-2 activity, but not pro-MMP-2 protein, decreases following RPE oxidative injury, indicating that oxidant injury disrupts the enzymatic cleavage of pro-MMP-2. Activation of MMP-2 requires the formation of a trimolecular complex of pro-MMP-2, MMP-14 and Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloproteinases (TIMP) -2. Therefore we investigated the impact of oxidant injury on the interaction between these three molecules.
Human GFP-RPE cells were oxidant injured by transient exposure to H2O2 and myeloperoxidase and time course of recovery performed. Supernatants and cell lysates were collected for analysis of MMP-2, MMP-14 and TIMP-2 activity, mRNA and protein expression. In some studies over-expression with either MMP-14 or TIMP-2 was performed to revert the cells to a pre-injury phenotype.
Transient injury resulted in a decrease of both MMP-14 and TIMP-2 activity and protein. Over-expression of each single molecule failed to prevent the injury-induced decrease of MMP-2 activity. On the other hand, over-expression of MMP-14 together with the addition of exogenous TIMP-2 did prevent the loss of MMP-2 activation.
Loss of MMP-2 activity after oxidant injury is caused by down regulation of MMP-14 and TIMP-2. Over-expression of either MMP-14 or TIMP-2 alone prior to oxidant injury is not enough to prevent loss of MMP-2 activity. All three components of the trimolecular complex must be present to preserve normal MMP-2 activity after oxidant injury.
PMCID: PMC1484406  PMID: 16565411
5.  Ovarian Expression and Regulation of the Stromelysins During the Periovulatory Period in the Human and the Rat1 
Biology of Reproduction  2011;86(3):78.
The matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are postulated to facilitate follicular rupture. In the present study, expression of the stromelysins (MMP3, MMP10, MMP11) was analyzed in the periovulatory human and rat ovary. Human granulosa and theca cells were collected from the dominant follicle at various times after human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). Intact rat ovaries, granulosa cells, and residual tissue (tissue remaining after granulosa cell collection) were isolated from equine CG (eCG)-hCG-primed animals. Mmp10 mRNA was highly induced in human granulosa and theca cells and intact rat ovaries, granulosa cells, and residual tissue. Localization of MMP10 to granulosa and theca cells in both human and rat ovarian follicles was confirmed by immunohistochemistry. Mmp3 mRNA was unchanged in human cells and rat granulosa cells, but increased in intact rat ovaries and residual tissue. Mmp11 mRNA decreased following hCG treatment in human granulosa and theca cells as well as rat granulosa cells. Regulation of Mmp10 in cultured rat granulosa cells revealed that the EGF inhibitor AG1478 and the progesterone receptor antagonist RU486 suppressed the induction of Mmp10 mRNA, whereas the prostaglandin inhibitor NS398 had no effect. Studies on the Mmp10 promoter demonstrated that forskolin plus PMA stimulated promoter activity, which was dependent upon a proximal AP1 site. In conclusion, there are divergent patterns of stromelysin expression associated with ovulation, with a marked induction of Mmp10 mRNA and a decrease in Mmp11 mRNA, yet a species-dependent pattern on Mmp3 mRNA expression. The induction of Mmp10 expression suggests an important role for this MMP in the follicular changes associated with ovulation and subsequent luteinization.
Expression of the metalloproteinase Mmp10 mRNA is stimulated by hCG prior to follicular rupture in both the human and the rat ovary, indicating involvement in ovulation and subsequent luteinization.
PMCID: PMC3316269  PMID: 22116802
extracellular matrix; granulosa cells; matrix metalloproteinase; ovulation; ovulatory cycle; proteinases; theca cells
6.  Decreased levels of metalloproteinase-9 and angiogenic factors in skin lesions of patients with psoriatic arthritis after therapy with anti-TNF-α 
Inflammation represents an early and key event in the development of both the cutaneous psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Compelling evidences indicate that the production of TNF-α plays a central role in psoriasis by sustaining the inflammatory process in the skin as well as in the joints. Among the multiple effects produced by TNF-α on keratinocytes, the induction of matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9), a collagenase implicated in joint inflammatory arthritis which acts as an angiogenesis promoting factor, might represent a key mechanism in the pathogenesis of the disease. Aims of the present study were to investigate a) the role of MMP-9 in the development of psoriasis by assessing the presence of MMP-9 in lesional skin and in sera of psoriatic patients; b) the association of MMP-9 with the activity of the disease; c) the relationship between MMP-9 and TNF-α production.
Eleven psoriatic patients, clinically presenting joint symptoms associated to the cutaneous disease, were included in a therapeutic protocol based on the administration of anti-TNF-α monoclonal antibody (Infliximab). Sera and skin biopsies were collected before treatment and after 6 weeks of therapy. Tissues were kept in short term cultures and production soluble mediators such as TNF-α, MMP-9, MMP-2, VEGF and E-Selectin, which include angiogenic molecules associated to the development of plaque psoriasis, were measured in the culture supernatants by immunoenzymatic assays (ng/ml or pg/ml per mg of tissue). MMP-9 concentrations were also measured in the sera. The cutaneous activity of disease was evaluated by the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI).
Clinical and laboratory assessment indicated that all but one patients had a significant improvement of the PASI score after three months of therapy. The clinical amelioration was associated to a significant decrease of MMP-9 (P = 0.017), TNF-α (P = 0.005) and E-selectin (P = 0.018) levels, spontaneously released by lesional biopsies before and after therapy. In addition, significant correlations were found between the PASI measurements and TNF-α (r2 = 0.33, P = 0.005), MMP-9 (r2 = 0.25, P = 0.017), E-selectin (r2 = 0.24, P = 0.018) production. MMP-9 levels were significantly correlated with those of TNF-α (r2 = 0.30, P = 0.008). A significant decrease of MMP-9 in the sera, associated to the clinical improvement was also found.
Our findings show the existence of a direct relationship between MMP-9 and TNF-α production strongly suggesting that MMP-9 may play a key role in the skin inflammatory process in psoriasis.
PMCID: PMC1601955  PMID: 17022813
7.  Matrix metalloproteinase-2 and -9 are induced differently by metal nanoparticles in human monocytes: The role of oxidative stress and protein tyrosine kinase activation 
Toxicology and applied pharmacology  2008;233(2):276-285.
Recently, many studies have shown that nanoparticles can translocate from the lungs to the circulatory system. As a particulate foreign body, nanoparticles could induce host responses such as reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, inflammatory cytokine and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) release which play a major role in tissue destruction and remodeling. However, the direct effects of nanoparticles on leukocytes, especially monocytes, are still unclear. The objective of the present study was to compare the ability of Nano-Co and Nano-TiO2 to cause alteration of transcription and activity of MMPs and to explore possible mechanisms. We hypothesized that non-toxic doses of some transition metal nanoparticles stimulate an imbalance of MMP/TIMP that cause MMP production that may contribute to their health effects. To test this hypothesis, U937 cells were treated with Nano-Co and Nano-TiO2 and cytotoxic effects and ROS generation were measured. The alteration of MMP-2 and MMP-9 expression and activity of MMP-2 and MMP-9 after exposure to these metal nanoparticles were subsequently determined. To investigate the potential signaling pathways involved in the Nano-Co-induced MMP activation, the ROS scavengers or inhibitors, AP-1 inhibitor, and protein tyrosine kinase (PTK) inhibitors were also used to pre-treat U937 cells. Our results demonstrated that exposure of U937 cells to Nano-Co, but not to Nano-TiO2, at a dose that does not cause cytotoxicity, resulted in ROS generation and up-regulation of MMP-2 and MMP-9 mRNA expression.. Our results also showed dose- and time-related increases in pro-MMP-2 and pro-MMP-9 gelatinolytic activities in conditioned media after exposure of U937 cells to Nano-Co, but not to Nano-TiO2. Nano-Co-induced pro-MMP-2 and pro-MMP-9 activity increases were inhibited by pre-treatment with ROS scavengers or inhibitors. We also demonstrated dose- and time-related decreases in tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases 2 (TIMP-2) in U937 cells after exposure to Nano-Co, but not to Nano-TiO2. However, neither Nano-Co nor Nano-TiO2 exposure led to any transcriptional change of TIMP-1. The decrease of TIMP-2 after exposure to Nano-Co was also inhibited by pre-treatment with ROS scavengers or inhibitors. Our results also showed that pre-treatment of U937 cells with AP-1 inhibitor, curcumin, or the PTK specific inhibitor, herbimycin A or genistein, prior to exposure to Nano-Co, significantly abolished Nano-Co-induced pro-MMP-2 and-9 activity. Our results suggest that Nano-Co causes an imbalance between the expression and activity of MMPs and their inhibitors which is mediated by the AP-1 and tyrosine kinase pathways due to oxidative stress.
PMCID: PMC2633358  PMID: 18835569
Metal nanoparticles; Matrix metalloproteinases; Human monocyte cell line U937; Tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases
8.  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
9.  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
10.  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.
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.
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.
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.
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
11.  Matrix metalloproteinases and their inhibitors in human traumatic spinal cord injury 
BMC Neurology  2007;7:17.
Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are a family of extracellular endopeptidases that degrade the extracellular matrix and other extracellular proteins. Studies in experimental animals demonstrate that MMPs play a number of roles in the detrimental as well as in the beneficial events after spinal cord injury (SCI). In the present correlative investigation, the expression pattern of several MMPs and their inhibitors has been investigated in the human spinal cord.
An immunohistochemical investigation in post mortem samples of control and lesioned human spinal cords was performed. All patients with traumatic SCI had been clinically diagnosed as having "complete" injuries and presented lesions of the maceration type.
In the unlesioned human spinal cord, MMP and TIMP immunoreactivity was scarce. After traumatic SCI, a lesion-induced bi-phasic pattern of raised MMP-1 levels could be found with an early up-regulation in macrophages within the lesion epicentre and a later induction in peri-lesional activated astrocytes. There was an early and brief induction of MMP-2 at the lesion core in macrophages. MMP-9 and -12 expression peaked at 24 days after injury and both molecules were mostly expressed in macrophages at the lesion epicentre. Whereas MMP-9 levels rose progressively from 1 week to 3 weeks, there was an isolated peak of MMP-12 expression at 24 days. The post-traumatic distribution of the MMP inhibitors TIMP-1, -2 and -3 was limited. Only occasional TIMP immuno-positive macrophages could be detected at short survival times. The only clear induction was detected for TIMP-3 at survival times of 8 months and 1 year in peri-lesional activated astrocytes.
The involvement of MMP-1, -2, -9 and -12 has been demonstrated in the post-traumatic events after human SCI. With an expression pattern corresponding largely to prior experimental studies, they were mainly expressed during the first weeks after injury and were most likely involved in the destructive inflammatory events of protein breakdown and phagocytosis carried out by infiltrating neutrophils and macrophages, as well as being involved in enhanced permeability of the blood spinal cord barrier. Similar to animal investigations, the strong induction of MMPs was not accompanied by an expression of their inhibitors, allowing these proteins to exert their effects in the lesioned spinal cord.
PMCID: PMC1914362  PMID: 17594482
12.  Immunodominant fragments of myelin basic protein initiate T cell-dependent pain 
The myelin sheath provides electrical insulation of mechanosensory Aβ-afferent fibers. Myelin-degrading matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) damage the myelin sheath. The resulting electrical instability of Aβ-fibers is believed to activate the nociceptive circuitry in Aβ-fibers and initiate pain from innocuous tactile stimulation (mechanical allodynia). The precise molecular mechanisms, responsible for the development of this neuropathic pain state after nerve injury (for example, chronic constriction injury, CCI), are not well understood.
Methods and results
Using mass spectrometry of the whole sciatic nerve proteome followed by bioinformatics analyses, we determined that the pathways, which are classified as the Infectious Disease and T-helper cell signaling, are readily activated in the nerves post-CCI. Inhibition of MMP-9/MMP-2 suppressed CCI-induced mechanical allodynia and concomitant TNF-α and IL-17A expression in nerves. MMP-9 proteolysis of myelin basic protein (MBP) generated the MBP84-104 and MBP68-86 digest peptides, which are prominent immunogenic epitopes. In agreement, the endogenous MBP69-86 epitope co-localized with MHCII and MMP-9 in Schwann cells and along the nodes of Ranvier. Administration of either the MBP84-104 or MBP68-86 peptides into the naïve nerve rapidly produced robust mechanical allodynia with a concomitant increase in T cells and MHCII-reactive cell populations at the injection site. As shown by the genome-wide expression profiling, a single intraneural MBP84-104 injection stimulated the inflammatory, immune cell trafficking, and antigen presentation pathways in the injected naïve nerves and the associated spinal cords. Both MBP84-104-induced mechanical allodynia and characteristic pathway activation were remarkably less prominent in the T cell-deficient athymic nude rats.
These data implicate MBP as a novel mediator of pain. Furthermore, the action of MMPs expressed within 1 day post-injury is critical to the generation of tactile allodynia, neuroinflammation, and the immunodominant MBP digest peptides in nerve. These MBP peptides initiate mechanical allodynia in both a T cell-dependent and -independent manner. In the course of Wallerian degeneration, the repeated exposure of the cryptic MBP epitopes, which are normally sheltered from immunosurveillance, may induce the MBP-specific T cell clones and a self-sustaining immune reaction, which may together contribute to the transition of acute pain into a chronic neuropathic pain state.
PMCID: PMC3416717  PMID: 22676642
13.  Multiple matrix metalloproteinases in type II collagen induced arthritis 
To study the relative contribution of various matrix degrading enzymes in the pathogenesis of arthritis, changes in the levels of various matrix metalloprtoteinases (MMPs) during the progression of collagen induced arthritis was studied in experimental animals. Arthritis was induced in male wistar rats by injecting an emulsion containing collagen type II and Freund’s complete adjuvant. The duration of the experiment was 35 days. Synovial effusate was collected at regular intervals after induction. At the end of the experiment serum and cartilage were collected and analysed. Synovial fluid of osteoarthritic patients was also analyzed. Levels of MMP-2, MMP-3, MMP-9 and MT1-MMP were found to be high in synovial effusate and cartilage of experimental animals. In synovial effusate of arthritic animals the expression of MMP-3 was found to be high during the early stages while increase in MMP-2 and MMP-9 occurred at later stages. Synovial fluid of osteoarthritic patients also showed elevated levels of MMP-2, MMP-3 and MMP-9. Our results indicated that sequential action of MMPs such as MMP-3, MMP-2 and MMP-9 can cause degradation of articular cartilage extracellular matrix.
PMCID: PMC3453469  PMID: 23105805
Matrix metalloproteinases; Osteoarthritis; Synovial effusate; Synovial fluid
14.  Macrophage metalloelastase (MMP-12) deficiency does not alter bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis in mice 
Pulmonary fibrosis is characterized by excessive deposition of extracellular matrix in the interstitium resulting in respiratory failure. The role of remodeling mediators such as metalloproteinases (MMPs) and their inhibitors (TIMPs) in the fibrogenic process remains misunderstood. In particular, macrophage metalloelastase, also identified as MMP-12, is known to be involved in remodeling processes under pathological conditions. However, MMP-12 involvement in pulmonary fibrosis is unknown. Here we investigated fibrotic response to bleomycin in MMP-12 deficient mice.
Materials and methods
C57BL/6 mice, Balb/c mice and MMP-12 -/- mice with a C57BL/6 background received 0.3 mg bleomycin by intranasal administration. 14 days after, mice were anesthetized and underwent either bronchoalveolear lavage (BAL) or lung removal. Collagen deposition in lung tissue was determined by Sircol™ collagen assay, MMP activity in BAL fluid was analyzed by zymography, and other mediators were quantified in BAL fluid by ELISA. Real time PCR was performed to assess gene expression in lung removed one or 14 days after bleomycin administration. Student t test or Mann & Whitney tests were used when appropriate for statistical analysis.
The development of pulmonary fibrosis in "fibrosis prone" (C57BL/6) mice was associated with prominent MMP-12 expression in lung, whereas MMP-12 expression was weak in lung tissue of "fibrosis resistant" (Balb/c) mice. MMP-12 mRNA was not detected in MMP-12 -/- mice, in conformity with their genotype. Bleomycin elicited macrophage accumulation in BAL of MMP-12 -/- and wild type (WT) mice, and MMP-12 deficiency had no significant effect on BAL cells composition. Collagen content of lung was increased similarly in MMP-12 -/- and WT mice 14 days after bleomycin administration. Bleomycin elicit a raise of TGF-β protein, MMP-2 and TIMP-1 protein and mRNA in BAL fluids and lung respectively, and no significant difference was observed between MMP-12 -/- and WT mice considering those parameters.
The present study shows that MMP-12 deficiency has no significant effect on bleomycin-induced fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC1397817  PMID: 16504062
15.  Differential spatio-temporal regulation of MMPs in the 5xFAD mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease: evidence for a pro-amyloidogenic role of MT1-MMP 
Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are pleiotropic endopeptidases involved in a variety of neurodegenerative/neuroinflammatory processes through their interactions with a large number of substrates. Among those, the amyloid precursor protein (APP) and the beta amyloid peptide (Aβ) are largely associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, the regulation and potential contribution of MMPs to AD remains unclear. In this study, we investigated the evolution of the expression of MMP-2, MMP-9, and membrane-type 1-MMP (MT1-MMP) in the hippocampus at different stages of the pathology (asymptomatic, prodromal-like and symptomatic) in the 5xFAD transgenic mouse AD model. In parallel we also followed the expression of functionally associated factors. Overall, the expression of MMP-2, MMP-9, and MT1-MMP was upregulated concomitantly with the tissue inhibitor of MMPs-1 (TIMP-1) and several markers of inflammatory/glial response. The three MMPs exhibited age- and cell-dependent upregulation of their expression, with MMP-2 and MMP-9 being primarily located to astrocytes, and MT1-MMP to neurons. MMP-9 and MT1-MMP were also prominently present in amyloid plaques. The levels of active MT1-MMP were highly upregulated in membrane-enriched fractions of hippocampus at 6 months of age (symptomatic phase), when the levels of APP, its metabolites APP C-terminal fragments (CTFs), and Aβ trimers were the highest. Overexpression of MT1-MMP in HEK cells carrying the human APP Swedish mutation (HEKswe) strongly increased β-secretase derived C-terminal APP fragment (C99) and Aβ levels, whereas MMP-2 overexpression nearly abolished Aβ production without affecting C99. Our data consolidate the emerging idea of a regulatory interplay between MMPs and the APP/Aβ system, and demonstrate for the first time the pro-amyloidogenic features of MT1-MMP. Further investigation will be justified to evaluate this MMP as a novel potential therapeutic target in AD.
PMCID: PMC4166961  PMID: 25278878
metalloproteinases; amyloid; MMP-2; MMP-9; ADAM; TIMP; neuroinflammation; cytokines
16.  Collagenase-3 (MMP-13) deficiency protects C57BL/6 mice from antibody-induced arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2013;15(6):R222.
Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are important in tissue remodelling. Here we investigate the role of collagenase-3 (MMP-13) in antibody-induced arthritis.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3979078  PMID: 24369907
17.  Detection of Functional Matrix Metalloproteinases by Zymography 
Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are zinc-containing endopeptidases. They degrade proteins by cleavage of peptide bonds. More than twenty MMPs have been identified and are separated into six groups based on their structure and substrate specificity (collagenases, gelatinases, membrane type [MT-MMP], stromelysins, matrilysins, and others). MMPs play a critical role in cell invasion, cartilage degradation, tissue remodeling, wound healing, and embryogenesis. They therefore participate in both normal processes and in the pathogenesis of many diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease1-6. Here, we will focus on MMP-2 (gelatinase A, type IV collagenase), a widely expressed MMP. We will demonstrate how to detect MMP-2 in cell culture supernatants by zymography, a commonly used, simple, and yet very sensitive technique first described in 1980 by C. Heussen and E.B. Dowdle7-10. This technique is semi-quantitative, it can therefore be used to determine MMP levels in test samples when known concentrations of recombinant MMP are loaded on the same gel11.
Solutions containing MMPs (e.g. cell culture supernatants, urine, or serum) are loaded onto a polyacrylamide gel containing sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS; to linearize the proteins) and gelatin (substrate for MMP-2). The sample buffer is designed to increase sample viscosity (to facilitate gel loading), provide a tracking dye (bromophenol blue; to monitor sample migration), provide denaturing molecules (to linearize proteins), and control the pH of the sample. Proteins are then allowed to migrate under an electric current in a running buffer designed to provide a constant migration rate. The distance of migration is inversely correlated with the molecular weight of the protein (small proteins move faster through the gel than large proteins do and therefore migrate further down the gel). After migration, the gel is placed in a renaturing buffer to allow proteins to regain their tertiary structure, necessary for enzymatic activity. The gel is then placed in a developing buffer designed to allow the protease to digest its substrate. The developing buffer also contains p-aminophenylmercuric acetate (APMA) to activate the non-proteolytic pro-MMPs into active MMPs. The next step consists of staining the substrate (gelatin in our example). After washing the excess dye off the gel, areas of protease digestion appear as clear bands. The clearer the band, the more concentrated the protease it contains. Band staining intensity can then be determined by densitometry, using a software such as ImageJ, allowing for sample comparison.
PMCID: PMC3159606  PMID: 21085107
18.  Arthritis is associated with T-cell-induced upregulation of Toll-like receptor 3 on synovial fibroblasts 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(3):R103.
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are likely to play crucial roles in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The aim of this study was to determine the key TLRs in synovium and explore their roles in the activation of fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs) mediated by T cells in arthritis.
Pristane-induced arthritis (PIA) was established by subcutaneous injection with pristane at the base of the rat's tail. TLR expression in synovium from PIA rats was detected at different time points by performing real-time PCR. Polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid (poly(I:C)) was intra-articularly administrated to PIA rats, and arthritis was monitored macroscopically and microscopically. Synovial TLR3 was detected by immunohistochemical staining. Rat FLSs were stimulated with pristane-primed T cells or pristane-primed, T-cell conditioned medium. The intervention of TLR3 in FLSs was achieved by specific short-hairpin RNA (shRNA) or an antibody. The migration ability of FLSs was measured by using the scratch test, and gene expression was detected by using real-time PCR. FLSs from RA patients were stimulated with various cytokines and TLR ligands, and TLR3 expression was detected by performing real-time PCR. In addition, with different concentrations of poly(I:C) stimulation, TLR3 expression of FLSs from RA patients and patients with osteoarthritis (OA) was compared.
Synovium TLR3 displayed early and persistent overexpression in PIA rats. TLR3 was expressed in FLSs, and local treatment with poly(I:C) synergistically aggravated the arthritis. Rat FLSs co-cultured with pristane-primed T cells showed strengthened migration ability and significant upregulation of TLR3, IFN-β, IL-6 and matrix metalloproteinase 3 (MMP3) expression, which could also be induced by pristane-primed, T-cell conditioned medium. The upregulation of cytokines and MMPs was blocked by shRNA or TLR3 antibodies. In RA FLSs with cytokine or TLR ligand stimulation, TLR3 expression exhibited remarkable upregulation. Furthermore, RA FLSs showed higher reactivity than OA FLSs to poly(I:C).
TLR3 in the synovium of PIA rats was overexpressed, and activation of the TLR3 signaling pathway could aggravate this arthritis. The induction of TLR3 in FLSs resulted from T cell-derived inflammatory stimulation and could further mediate FLS activation in arthritis. We conclude that TLR3 upregulation of FLSs activated by T cells results in articular inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3218918  PMID: 21708001
19.  VDIPEN, a metalloproteinase-generated neoepitope, is induced and immunolocalized in articular cartilage during inflammatory arthritis. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1995;95(5):2178-2186.
The destruction of articular cartilage in immune inflammatory arthritic disease involves the proteolytic degradation of its extracellular matrix. The role of activated matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) in the chondrodestructive process was studied by identifying a selective cleavage product of aggrecan in murine arthritis models initiated by immunization with either type II collagen or proteoglycan. We conducted semiquantitative immunocytochemical studies of VDIPEN341 using a monospecific polyclonal antibody requiring the free COOH group of the COOH-terminal Asn for epitope detection. This antibody recognizes the aggrecan G1 domain fragment generated by MMP [i.e., stromelysin (SLN) or gelatinase A] cleavage of aggrecan between Asn341-Phe342 but does not recognize intact aggrecan. VDIPEN was undetectable in normal mouse cartilage but was observed in the articular cartilage (AC) of mice with collagen-induced arthritis 10 d after immunization, without histological damage and clinical symptoms. This aggrecan neoepitope was colocalized with high levels of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) in pericellular matrices of AC chondrocytes but was not seen at the articular surface at this early time. Digestion of normal (VDIPEN negative) mouse paw cryosections with SLN also produced heavy pericellular VDIPEN labeling. Computer-based image analysis showed that the amount of VDIPEN expression increased dramatically by 20 d (70% of the SLN maximum) and was correlated with GAG depletion. Both infiltration of inflammatory cells into the synovial cavity and early AC erosion were also very prominent at this time. Analysis of adjacent sections showed that both induction of VDIPEN and GAG depletion were strikingly codistributed within sites of articular cartilage damage. Similar results occurred in proteoglycan-induced arthritis, a more progressive and chronic model of inflammatory arthritis. These studies demonstrate for the first time the MMP-dependent catabolism of aggrecan at sites of chondrodestruction during inflammatory arthritis.
PMCID: PMC295822  PMID: 7537757
20.  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
21.  Targeting of viral interleukin-10 with an antibody fragment specific to damaged arthritic cartilage improves its therapeutic potency 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2014;16(4):R151.
We previously demonstrated that a single-chain fragment variable (scFv) specific to collagen type II (CII) posttranslationally modified by reactive oxygen species (ROS) can be used to target anti-inflammatory therapeutics specifically to inflamed arthritic joints. The objective of the present study was to demonstrate the superior efficacy of anti-inflammatory cytokines when targeted to inflamed arthritic joints by the anti-ROS modified CII (anti-ROS-CII) scFv in a mouse model of arthritis.
Viral interleukin-10 (vIL-10) was fused to anti-ROS-CII scFv (1-11E) with a matrix-metalloproteinase (MMP) cleavable linker to create 1-11E/vIL-10 fusion. Binding of 1-11E/vIL-10 to ROS-CII was determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), Western blotting, and immune-staining of arthritic cartilage, whereas vIL-10 bioactivity was evaluated in vitro by using an MC-9 cell-proliferation assay. Specific in vivo localization and therapeutic efficacy of 1-11E/vIL-10 was tested in the mouse model of antigen-induced arthritis.
1-11E/vIL-10 bound specifically to ROS-CII and to damaged arthritic cartilage. Interestingly, the in vitro vIL-10 activity in the fusion protein was observed only after cleavage with MMP-1. When systemically administered to arthritic mice, 1-11E/vIL-10 localized specifically to the arthritic knee, with peak accumulation observed after 3 days. Moreover, 1-11E/vIL-10 reduced inflammation significantly quicker than vIL-10 fused to the control anti-hen egg lysozyme scFv (C7/vIL10).
Targeted delivery of anti-inflammatory cytokines potentiates their anti-arthritic action in a mouse model of arthritis. Our results further support the hypothesis that targeting biotherapeutics to arthritic joints may be extended to include anti-inflammatory cytokines that lack efficacy when administered systemically.
PMCID: PMC4225686  PMID: 25029910
22.  NOV/CCN3 attenuates inflammatory pain through regulation of matrix metalloproteinases-2 and -9 
Sustained neuroinflammation strongly contributes to the pathogenesis of pain. The clinical challenge of chronic pain relief led to the identification of molecules such as cytokines, chemokines and more recently matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) as putative therapeutic targets. Evidence points to a founder member of the matricial CCN family, NOV/CCN3, as a modulator of these inflammatory mediators. We thus investigated the possible involvement of NOV in a preclinical model of persistent inflammatory pain.
We used the complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA)-induced model of persistent inflammatory pain and cultured primary sensory neurons for in vitro experiments. The mRNA expression of NOV and pro-inflammatory factors were measured with real-time quantitative PCR, CCL2 protein expression was assessed using ELISA, MMP-2 and -9 activities using zymography. The effect of drugs on tactile allodynia was evaluated by the von Frey test.
NOV was expressed in neurons of both dorsal root ganglia (DRG) and dorsal horn of the spinal cord (DHSC). After intraplantar CFA injection, NOV levels were transiently and persistently down-regulated in the DRG and DHSC, respectively, occurring at the maintenance phase of pain (15 days). NOV-reduced expression was restored after treatment of CFA rats with dexamethasone. In vitro, results based on cultured DRG neurons showed that siRNA-mediated inhibition of NOV enhanced IL-1β- and TNF-α-induced MMP-2, MMP-9 and CCL2 expression whereas NOV addition inhibited TNF-α-induced MMP-9 expression through β1 integrin engagement. In vivo, the intrathecal delivery of MMP-9 inhibitor attenuated mechanical allodynia of CFA rats. Importantly, intrathecal administration of NOV siRNA specifically led to an up-regulation of MMP-9 in the DRG and MMP-2 in the DHSC concomitant with increased mechanical allodynia. Finally, NOV intrathecal treatment specifically abolished the induction of MMP-9 in the DRG and, MMP-9 and MMP-2 in the DHSC of CFA rats. This inhibitory effect on MMP is associated with reduced mechanical allodynia.
This study identifies NOV as a new actor against inflammatory pain through regulation of MMPs thus uncovering NOV as an attractive candidate for therapeutic improvement in pain relief.
PMCID: PMC3332238  PMID: 22353423
NOV/CCN3; Inflammatory pain; Neuroinflammation; IL-1beta; TNF-alpha; CCL2; MMP-2; MMP-9; Allodynia
23.  T cells that are naturally tolerant to cartilage-derived type II collagen are involved in the development of collagen-induced arthritis 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(4):315-326.
The immunodominant T-cell epitope that is involved in collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) is the glycosylated type II collagen (CII) peptide 256-270. In CII transgenic mice, which express the immunodominant CII 256-270 epitope in cartilage, the CII-specific T cells are characterized by a partially tolerant state with low proliferative activity in vitro, but with maintained effector functions, such as IFN-γ secretion and ability to provide B cell help. These mice were still susceptible to CIA. The response was mainly directed to the glycosylated form of the CII 256-270 peptide, rather than to the nonglycosylated peptide. Tolerance induction was rapid; transferred T cells encountered CII within a few days. CII immunization several weeks after thymectomy of the mice did not change their susceptibility to arthritis or the induction of partial T-cell tolerance, excluding a role for recent thymic emigrants. Thus, partially tolerant CII autoreactive T cells are maintained and are crucial for the development of CIA.
A discussion is ongoing regarding the possible role of cartilage-directed autoimmunity as a part of the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). One possibility is that the association of RA with shared epitope-expressing DR molecules reflects a role for major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II molecules as peptide receptors, and that the predilection of the inflammatory attack for the joint indicates a role for cartilage as a source of the antigenic peptides. A direct role for CII in the development of arthritis is apparent in the CIA model, in which a definite role for MHC class II molecules and a role for CII-derived peptides have been demonstrated [1,2,3]. Remarkably, it was found that the identified MHC class II molecule in the CIA model Aq has a structurally similar peptide binding pocket to that of the shared epitope, expressing DR4 molecules [4]. In fact, DR4 (DRB1*0401) and DR1 (DRB1*0101) transgenic mice are susceptible to CIA because of an immune response to a peptide that is almost identical to that which is involved in Aq-expressing mice [5,6]. They are both derived from position 260-273 of the CII molecule; the peptide binds to the Aqmolecule with isoleucine 260 in the P1 pocket, but with phenylalanine 263 in the P1 pocket of the DR4 and DR1 molecules.
Although these findings do not prove a role for CII in RA, they show that such recognition is possible and that there are structural similarities when comparing mouse with human. However, there are also strong arguments against such a possibility. First, arthritis can evolve without evidence for a cartilage-specific autoimmunity, as seen with various adjuvant-induced arthritis models [7,8] and in several observations using transgenic animals with aberrant immunity to ubiquitously expressed proteins [9,10,11]. Moreover, the MHC association in the adjuvant arthritis models correlates with severity of the disease rather than susceptibility [7,8], as has also been observed in RA [12]. Second, it has not been possible to identify the CII-reactive T cells from RA joints, or to achieve a strong and significant CII proliferative response from T cells derived from RA joints. Most recently these negative observations were corroborated using DR4+CII peptide tetramer reagents [13]. On the other hand, it has also been difficult to isolate autoreactive CII-specific T cells from CIA, and it can be anticipated that, even in the CIA model, T cells that are specific for CII will be hard to find in the joints [4].
We believe that the explanations for these observations in both experimental animals and humans are related to tolerance. The CIA model in the mouse is usually induced with heterologous CII, and is critically dependent on an immune response to the glycosylated CII peptide 256-270, which is bound to the MHC class II Aq molecule. In CII transgenic mice, expressing the heterologous (rat) form of the immunodominant CII 256-270 epitope in cartilage, we observed partial T-cell tolerance. This tolerance is characterized by a low proliferative activity, but with maintained effector functions such as production of IFN-γ and the ability to give help to B cells to produce anti-CII IgG antibodies [14]. Interestingly, these mice were susceptible to arthritis. However, a possibility was that T cells that had newly emerged from the thymus and that were not yet tolerized when the mice were immunized with CII led to the induction of arthritis. We have now addressed this possibility and found that induction of tolerance occurs within a few days, and that mice lacking recent thymic emigrants (ie thymectomized mice) display partially tolerant T cells and susceptibility to arthritis to the same extent as nonthymectomized mice. In addition we found that T cells that are reactive with the nonmodified peptides are relatively more affected by tolerance than T cells that are reactive with the more immunodominant glycosylated variants.
To investigate the possibility that T cells that are naturally tolerant to the cartilage protein CII are involved in the development of arthritis, and to exclude a role for nontolerized recent thymic T-cell emigrants in the development of arthritis.
Materials and methods:
A mutated mouse CII, expressing glutamic acid instead of aspartic acid at position 266, was expressed in a transgenic mouse called MMC (mutated mouse collagen) that has been described earlier [14]. The mice were thymectomized, or sham-operated, at 7 weeks of age and allowed to recover for 4 weeks before being immunized with rat CII in complete Freund's adjuvant. Arthritis development was recorded and sera analyzed for anti-CII IgG, IgG1 and IgG2a levels. To assay T-cell effector functions, other MMC and control mice were immunized in the hind footpads with rat CII in complete Freund's adjuvant, and the draining popliteal lymph nodes were taken 10 days later. The lymph node cells (LNCs) were used for proliferation assay, IFN-γ enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and B-cell enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT). For the proliferation assay, 106 cells were put in triplicate cultures in microtitre wells together with antigen and incubated for 72h before thymidine-labelling and harvesting 15-18h later. For IFN-γ ELISA analysis, supernatant from the proliferation plates was removed before harvesting and used in an ELISA to quantify the amount of IFN-γ produced [15]. B-cell ELISPOT was performed to enumerate the number of cells producing anti-CII IgG [16].
T-cell lines that were reactive towards rat CII were established by immunization with rat CII. An established T-cell line that was reactive with CII and specific for the CII 256-270 peptide was restimulated with freshly collected, irradiated, syngenic spleen cells and rat CII for 3 days followed by 2 weeks of IL-2 containing medium. Immediately before transfer, the cells were labelled with the cytoplasmic dye 5 (and 6)-carboxyfluorescein diacetate succinimidyl ester (CFSE) [17]. Labelled cells (107) were injected intravenously into transgenic MMC mice and nontransgenic littermates. The mice were killed 4 days after cell transfer, and the concentration of CFSE-labelled cells was determined by flow cytometry.
Results and discussion:
To investigate whether and how quickly CII-reactive T cells will encounter CII in vivo, an established T-cell line that is reactive towards rat CII was labelled with the cytoplasmic dye CFSE and transferred into MMC-QD and control mice. Four days later the mice were killed, and it was found that MMC-transgenic mice had dramatically fewer CFSE-labelled cells in the spleen than did nontransgenic littermates (0.11% compared with 0.57%). Similarly, reduced numbers of CFSE-positive cells were observed in blood. This indicates that the T cells encountered the mutated CII that was present in the cartilage of MMC mice, but not in the nontransgenic littermates. Presumably, CII from cartilage is spread by antigen-presenting cells (APCs) to peripheral lymphoid organs. This observation also suggests that newly exported T cells from the thymus will be tolerized to CII in the periphery within less than 4 days.
To further investigate whether the MMC mice harbours naïve or tolerized T cells, the mice were immunized with CII at different time points after thymectomy that were well in excess of the times required for their encounter with CII. After 10 days, the response was analyzed in vitro towards both the nonglycosylated and the glycosylated CII 256-270 peptides as well as towards purified protein derivative. The galactosylated form of the peptide (Fig. 1) was used because this is the most immunodominant modification [18]. In contrast to control mice, LNCs from transgenic mice did not proliferate significantly towards the nonglycosylated peptide, indicating that these cells have been specifically tolerized, which is in accordance with earlier observations [14]. A reduced, but still significant proliferation was also observed toward the immunodominant glycosylated CII peptide. Most important, however, was that the proliferative response in the MMC mice did not decrease after thymectomy. Similarly, a significant IFN-γ production towards the glycosylated CII peptide was observed in the MMC mice. The response was somewhat reduced compared with that observed in nontransgenic littermates, and this was especially true for the response toward the nonglycosylated peptide. Again, no decrease in the MMC response by thymectomy was observed. Taken together, the T-cell response in transgenic mice was reduced in comparison with that in the nontransgenic littermates. Furthermore, the response in transgenic animals did not decrease by thymectomy (4 or 8 weeks before immunization), showing that autoreactive T cells are still maintained (and partially tolerized) with significant effector functions at least up to 8 weeks after thymectomy, excluding a exclusive role for recent thymic emigrants in the autoimmune response towards CII. To investigate whether thymectomized mice, lacking recent CII-specific thymic emigrants, were susceptible to CIA, mice were immunized with CII 4 weeks after thymectomy and were observed for arthritis development during the following 10 weeks. Clearly, the thymectomized MMC mice were susceptible to arthritis (five out of 18 developed arthritis; Fig. 2), and no significant differences in susceptibility between thymectomized and sham-operated mice, or between males and females, were seen. In accordance with earlier results [14], MMC transgenic mice had a significantly reduced susceptibility to arthritis as compared with the nontransgenic littermates (P < 0.0001 for arthritic scores, disease onset and incidence). All mice were bled at 35 days after immunization, and the total levels of anti-CII IgG were determined. Transgenic mice developed levels of anti-CII IgG significantly above background, but the antibody titres were lower than in nontransgenic littermates (P < 0.0001). No effect on the antibody levels by thymectomy was observed, nor did thethymectomy affect the distribution of IgG1 versus IgG2a titres,indicating that the observed tolerance is not associated with a shift from a T-helper-1- to a T-helper-2-like immune response. These findings show that T cells that are specific for a tissue-specific matrix protein, CII, are partially tolerized within a few days after thymus export and that these tolerized cells are maintained after thymectomy. Most important, mice that lack newly exported CII reactive T cells are still susceptible to CIA, suggesting that the partially tolerant T cells are involved in development of arthritis.
In the light of these data it is possible to explain some of the findings in RA. T-cell reactivity to CII has been shown in RA patients, but with a very weak proliferative activity [19,20]. This is fully compatible with observations in mouse and rat CIA when autologous CII, and not heterologous CII, are used for immunization. This is particularly true if the responses are recorded during the chronic phase of disease, in which the antigen-specific T-cell responses seem to be suppressed in both humans and experimental animals. These observations were confirmed in a recent report [21] in which it was shown that CII-reactive T-cell activity could be detected in RA patients if IFN-γ production but not proliferation was measured. In the present studies in mice the strongest response is seen towards post-translational modifications of the peptide. Because the T-cell contact points are the same whether the peptide is bound to DR4 or to Aq, it is fully possible that post-translational modifications of the peptide also plays a significant role in humans [22]. The fact that IgG antibodies specific for CII are found in many RA patients could be explained by maintained B-cell helper functions of CII-reactive T cells. In fact, it has been reported [23,24] that the occurrence of IgG antibodies to CII is associated with shared epitope DR4 molecules. These observations are thus compatible with a role for CII reactivity in RA. To avoid any confusion, it needs to be stressed that RA is a heterogeneous syndrome in which not only CII, but also other cartilage proteins and other mechanisms are of importance. Such a pathogenic heterogeneity is reflected by the multitude of experimental animal models that have demonstrated how many different pathways may lead to arthritis [25].
PMCID: PMC17814  PMID: 11056672
autoimmunity; rheumatoid arthritis; T lymphocytes; tolerance; transgenic
24.  Downregulation of membrane type-matrix metalloproteinases in the inflamed or injured central nervous system 
Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are thought to mediate cellular infiltration in central nervous system (CNS) inflammation by cleaving extracellular matrix proteins associated with the blood-brain barrier. The family of MMPs includes 23 proteinases, including six membrane type-MMPs (MT-MMPs). Leukocyte infiltration is an integral part of the pathogenesis of autoimmune inflammation in the CNS, as occurs in multiple sclerosis and its animal model experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), as well as in the response to brain trauma and injury. We have previously shown that gene expression of the majority of MMPs was upregulated in the spinal cord of SJL mice with severe EAE induced by adoptive transfer of myelin basic protein-reactive T cells, whereas four of the six MT-MMPs (MMP-15, 16, 17 and 24) were downregulated. The two remaining MT-MMPs (MMP-14 and 25) were upregulated in whole tissue.
We used in vivo models of CNS inflammation and injury to study expression of MT-MMP and cytokine mRNA by real-time RT-PCR. Expression was also assessed in microglia sorted from CNS by flow cytometry, and in primary microglia cultures following treatment with IFNγ.
We now confirm the expression pattern of MT-MMPs in the B6 mouse, independent of effects of adjuvant. We further show expression of all the MT-MMPs, except MMP-24, in microglia. Microglia isolated from mice with severe EAE showed statistically significant downregulation of MMP-15, 17 and 25 and lack of increase in levels of other MT-MMPs. Downregulation of MT-MMPs was also apparent following CNS injury. The pattern of regulation of MT-MMPs in neuroinflammation showed no association with expression of the proinflammatory cytokines TNFα, IL-1β, or IFNγ.
CNS inflammation and injury leads to downregulation in expression of the majority of MT-MMPs. Microglia in EAE showed a general downregulation of MT-MMPs, and our findings suggest that MT-MMP levels may inversely correlate with microglial reactivity.
PMCID: PMC2075488  PMID: 17883829
25.  Hyaluronan modulates accumulation of hypoxia-inducible factor-1 alpha, inducible nitric oxide synthase, and matrix metalloproteinase-3 in the synovium of rat adjuvant-induced arthritis model 
Hypoxia is a feature of the inflamed synovium in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Intra-articular injection of hyaluronan (HA) may be considered a potential way to treat RA. However, the exact molecular mechanism of HA on decreased cellular responses to hypoxic environment is unclear. The present study has been designed to use the adjuvant-induced arthritis model to examine the effects of HA on the changes of immunohistochemical expressions of hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha (HIF-1alpha), inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), and matrix metalloproteinase-3 (MMP3) in the synovial tissues at the early phase of arthritic inflammation.
Monoarthritis was induced in adult male Sprague-Dawley (250-300 g) via intraarticular injection of complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) into the tibiotarsal joint. The CFA-induction arthritis animals were divided into three groups: treatment (intraarticular injection of HA), placebo (intraarticular injection of saline) and controls (no treatments). Functional evaluations of edema and pain behavior, histology, and HIF-1alpha, iNOS, and MMP3 immunohistochemistry were performed before, after the first injection, three injections, and on the follow-up injection of the treatments.
Intra-articular injection of HA also significantly suppressed the mechanical allodynia (p < 0.001) and overexpressions of HIF-1alpha (p < 0.001), iNOS (p = 0.004) and MMP3 (p < 0.001) immunoreactivity in synovium.
This study demonstrated that early intervention of HA is an effective protection against accumulation of inflammation-induced HIF-1alpha, iNOS, and MMP3 to limit erosive damage in CFA-induced model of arthritis.
PMCID: PMC3218905  PMID: 21679445

Results 1-25 (1300902)