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1.  Altered Expression of MicroRNA-203 in Rheumatoid Arthritis Synovial Fibroblasts and Its Role in Fibroblast Activation 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2011;63(2):373-381.
MicroRNA (miRNA) are recognized as important regulators of a variety of fundamental biologic processes. Previously, we described increased expression of miR-155 and miR-146a in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and showed a repressive effect of miR-155 on matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) expression in RA synovial fibroblasts (RASFs). The present study was undertaken to examine alterations in expression of miR-203 in RASFs and analyze its role in fibroblast activation.
Differentially expressed miRNA in RASFs versus osteoarthritis synovial fibroblasts (OASFs) were identified by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR)–based screening of 260 individual miRNA. Transfection of miR-203 precursor was used to analyze the function of miR-203 in RASFs. Levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6) and MMPs were measured by real-time PCR and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. RASFs were stimulated with IL-1β, tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα), lipopolysaccharide (LPS), and 5-azacytidine (5-azaC). Activity of IκB kinase 2 was inhibited with SC-514.
Expression of miR-203 was higher in RASFs than in OASFs or fibroblasts from healthy donors. Levels of miR-203 did not change upon stimulation with IL-1β, TNFα, or LPS; however, DNA demethylation with 5-azaC increased the expression of miR-203. Enforced expression of miR-203 led to significantly increased levels of MMP-1 and IL-6. Induction of IL-6 by miR-203 overexpression was inhibited by blocking of the NF-κB pathway. Basal expression levels of IL-6 correlated with basal expression levels of miR-203.
The current results demonstrate methylation-dependent regulation of miR-203 expression in RASFs. Importantly, they also show that elevated levels of miR-203 lead to increased secretion of MMP-1 and IL-6 via the NF-κB pathway and thereby contribute to the activated phenotype of synovial fibroblasts in RA.
PMCID: PMC3116142  PMID: 21279994
2.  Plasma and synovial fluid microRNAs as potential biomarkers of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis 
MicroRNAs (miRNAs), endogenous small noncoding RNAs regulating the activities of target mRNAs and cellular processes, are present in human plasma in a stable form. In this study, we investigated whether miRNAs are also stably present in synovial fluids and whether plasma and synovial fluid miRNAs could be biomarkers of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA).
We measured concentrations of miR-16, miR-132, miR-146a, miR-155 and miR-223 in synovial fluid from patients with RA and OA, and those in plasma from RA, OA and healthy controls (HCs) by quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. Furthermore, miRNAs in the conditioned medium of synovial tissues, monolayer fibroblast-like synoviocytes, and mononuclear cells were examined. Correlations between miRNAs and biomarkers or disease activities of RA were statistically examined.
Synovial fluid miRNAs were present and as stable as plasma miRNAs for storage at -20°C and freeze-thawing from -20°C to 4°C. In RA and OA, synovial fluid concentrations of miR-16, miR-132, miR-146a, and miR-223 were significantly lower than their plasma concentrations, and there were no correlation between plasma and synovial fluid miRNAs. Interestingly, synovial tissues, fibroblast-like synoviocytes, and mononuclear cells secreted miRNAs in distinct patterns. The expression patterns of miRNAs in synovial fluid of OA were similar to miRNAs secreted by synovial tissues. Synovial fluid miRNAs of RA were likely to originate from synovial tissues and infiltrating cells. Plasma miR-132 of HC was significantly higher than that of RA or OA with high diagnosability. Synovial fluid concentrations of miR-16, miR-146a miR-155 and miR-223 of RA were significantly higher than those of OA. Plasma miRNAs or ratio of synovial fluid miRNAs to plasma miRNAs, including miR-16 and miR-146a, significantly correlated with tender joint counts and 28-joint Disease Activity Score.
Plasma miRNAs had distinct patterns from synovial fluid miRNAs, which appeared to originate from synovial tissue. Plasma miR-132 well differentiated HCs from patients with RA or OA, while synovial fluid miRNAs differentiated RA and OA. Furthermore, plasma miRNAs correlated with the disease activities of RA. Thus, synovial fluid and plasma miRNAs have potential as diagnostic biomarkers for RA and OA and as a tool for the analysis of their pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2911870  PMID: 20470394
3.  Expression of microRNA-146 in osteoarthritis cartilage 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2009;60(4):1035-1041.
A role of microRNAs, which are ∼22- nucleotide non coding RNAs, has recently been recognized in human diseases. The objective of this study was to identify the expression pattern of microRNA-146 (miR-146) in cartilage from patients with osteoarthritis (OA).
The expression of miR-146 in cartilage from 15 patients with OA was analyzed by quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and by in situ hybridization. Induction of the expression of miR-146 by cultures of normal human articular chondrocytes following stimulation with interleukin-1β (IL-1β) was examined by quantitative RT-PCR.
All cartilage samples were divided into three groups according to a modified Mankin scale; grade I: 0 - 5, grade II: 6 - 10, grade III: 11 - 14. In OA cartilage samples of grade I, the expression of miR-146a and Col2a1 was significantly higher than that of other groups (p<0.05). In OA cartilage of grades II and III, the expression of miR-146a and Col2a1 decreased while the expression of MMP13 was elevated in grade II. These data show that miR-146a is expressed intensely in cartilage with a low Mankin grade, and that miR-146a expression decreases in accordance with level of MMP13 expression. Section in situ hybridization of pri-miR-146a revealed that pri-miR-146a is expressed in chondrocytes in all layers, especially in the superficial layer where it is intensely expressed. The expression of miR-146 was markedly elevated by IL-1β stimulation in human chondrocytes in vitro.
This study shows that miR-146 is intensely expressed in low grade OA cartilage, and that its expression is induced by stimulation of IL-1β. MiR-146 might play a role in OA cartilage pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2670476  PMID: 19333945
4.  Endothelial protein C receptor-associated invasiveness of rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts is likely driven by group V secretory phospholipase A2 
Rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts (RASFs) mediate joint inflammation and destruction in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Endothelial protein C receptor (EPCR) is a specific receptor for the natural anticoagulant activated protein C (APC). It mediates the cytoprotective properties of APC and is expressed in rheumatoid synovial tissue. A recent report shows that group V secretory phospholipase A2 (sPLA2V) prevents APC from binding to EPCR in endothelium and inhibits EPCR/APC function. The aim of this study was to investigate the expression and function of EPCR on RASFs.
Human synovial fibroblasts (SFs) were isolated from RA or osteoarthritis (OA) synovial tissues and treated with control, EPCR, or sPLA2V small interfering RNA (siRNA); recombinant human APC, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), or sPLA2V. RASF viability and migration/invasion were measured by 3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide (MTT) and collagen gel migration/invasion assays, respectively, and cartilage degradation by 1,9-dimethylmethylene blue (DMMB) assay in the presence of human OA articular cartilage explants. The expression or activation of cytokines, EPCR, cadherin-11, mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases, and nuclear factor-kappa-B (NF-κB) or both were detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, Western blotting, or immunostaining.
EPCR was expressed by both OASFs and RASFs but was markedly increased in RASFs. When EPCR was suppressed by siRNA or blocking antibody cell viability, cell invasion and cartilage degradation were reduced by more than 30%. Inflammatory mediators interleukin-1-beta (IL-1β), cadherin-11, and NF-κB were significantly reduced by EPCR suppression under control or TNF-α-stimulated conditions. The expression or activation (or both) of MAP kinases ERK, p38, and JNK were also markedly decreased in cells transfected with EPCR siRNA. Further analysis revealed that sPLA2V co-localized with EPCR on RASFs. Suppression of sPLA2V reduced cell viability and cartilage degradation and increased APC binding to RASFs. Conversely, recombinant sPLA2V increased cartilage degradation, blocked APC binding to RASFs, and could not rescue the effects induced by EPCR suppression.
Our results demonstrate that EPCR is overexpressed by RASFs and mediates the aggressive behavior of RASFs. This function of EPCR is contrary to its cytoprotective role in other settings and is likely driven by sPLA2V.
PMCID: PMC3979138  PMID: 24495480
5.  Angiopoietin-1 is expressed in the synovium of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and is induced by tumour necrosis factor α 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2003;62(2):100-107.
Objectives: To examine the potential role of the angiogenic growth factor angiopoietin-1 (Ang-1) in inflammatory arthritis.
Methods: Eighteen synovial tissue samples were obtained from 17 patients with a clinical diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and compared with six synovial tissue samples from six patients with osteoarthritis (OA). Ang-1 expression in synovial tissues was determined by immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridisation. Ang-1 mRNA and protein expression were also examined by northern blot analysis and enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in cultured synovial fibroblasts and human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) before and after treatment with tumour necrosis factor (TNF)α.
Results: Ang-1 protein expression was detected by immunohistochemistry in 16/18 RA synovial tissue samples. Ang-1 protein was frequently observed in the synovial lining layer and in cells within the sublining synovial tissue, in both perivascular areas and in areas remote from vessels. In contrast, Ang-1 was only weakly detected in these sites in OA samples. Ang-1 mRNA and protein were also expressed in cultured synovial fibroblasts derived from patients with RA. In addition, induction of Ang-1 mRNA and protein was observed by northern blot analysis and ELISA after stimulation of RA synovial fibroblasts, but not HUVECs, with the proinflammatory cytokine TNFα.
Conclusions: Ang-1 mRNA and protein are expressed in the synovium of patients with RA, and are up regulated in synovial fibroblasts by TNFα. Ang-1 may therefore be an important regulator of angiogenesis in inflammatory arthritis.
PMCID: PMC1754433  PMID: 12525377
6.  Upregulated miR-146a expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from rheumatoid arthritis patients 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2008;10(4):R101.
MicroRNAs are small noncoding RNA molecules that negatively regulate gene expression via degradation or translational repression of their targeted mRNAs. It is known that aberrant microRNA expression can play important roles in cancer, but the role of microRNAs in autoimmune diseases is only beginning to emerge. In this study, the expression of selected microRNAs is examined in rheumatoid arthritis.
Total RNA was isolated from peripheral blood mononuclear cells obtained from patients with rheumatoid arthritis, and healthy and disease control individuals, and the expression of miR-146a, miR-155, miR-132, miR-16, and microRNA let-7a was analyzed using quantitative real-time PCR.
Rheumatoid arthritis peripheral blood mononuclear cells exhibited between 1.8-fold and 2.6-fold increases in miR-146a, miR-155, miR-132, and miR-16 expression, whereas let-7a expression was not significantly different compared with healthy control individuals. In addition, two targets of miR-146a, namely tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated factor 6 (TRAF6) and IL-1 receptor-associated kinase 1 (IRAK-1), were similarly expressed between rheumatoid arthritis patients and control individuals, despite increased expression of miR-146a in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Repression of TRAF6 and/or IRAK-1 in THP-1 cells resulted in up to an 86% reduction in tumor necrosis factor-α production, implicating that normal miR-146a function is critical for the regulation of tumor necrosis factor-α production.
Recent studies have shown that synovial tissue and synovial fibroblasts from patients with rheumatoid arthritis exhibit increased expression of certain microRNAs. Our data thus demonstrate that microRNA expression in rheumatoid arthritis peripheral blood mononuclear cells mimics that of synovial tissue/fibroblasts. The increased microRNA expression in rheumatoid arthritis patients is potentially useful as a marker for disease diagnosis, progression, or treatment efficacy, but this will require confirmation using a large and well defined cohort. Our data also suggest a possible mechanism contributing to rheumatoid arthritis pathogenesis, whereby miR-146a expression is increased but unable to properly function, leading to prolonged tumor necrosis factor-α production in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
PMCID: PMC2575615  PMID: 18759964
7.  Altered microRNA expression profile with miR-146a upregulation in CD4+ T cells from patients with rheumatoid arthritis 
Increasing evidence indicates that microRNAs (miRNAs) play a critical role in the pathogenesis of inflammatory diseases. The aim of the study was to investigate the expression pattern and function of miRNAs in CD4+ T cells from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
The expression profile of miRNAs in CD4+ T cells from synovial fluid (SF) and peripheral blood of 33 RA patients was determined by microarray assay and validated by qRT-PCR analysis. The correlation between altered expression of miRNAs and cytokine levels was determined by linear regression analysis. The role of miR-146a overexpression in regulating T cell apoptosis was evaluated by flow cytometry. A genome-wide gene expression analysis was further performed to identify miR-146a-regulated genes in T cells.
miRNA expression profile analysis revealed that miR-146a expression was significantly upregulated while miR-363 and miR-498 were downregulated in CD4+ T cells of RA patients. The level of miR-146a expression was positively correlated with levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), and in vitro studies showed TNF-α upregulated miR-146a expression in T cells. Moreover, miR-146a overexpression was found to suppress Jurkat T cell apoptosis. Finally, transcriptome analysis of miR-146a overexpression in T cells identified Fas associated factor 1 (FAF1) as a miR-146a-regulated gene, which was critically involved in modulating T cell apoptosis.
We have detected increased miR-146a in CD4+ T cells of RA patients and its close correlation with TNF-α levels. Our findings that miR-146a overexpression suppresses T cell apoptosis indicate a role of miR-146a in RA pathogenesis and provide potential novel therapeutic targets.
PMCID: PMC2911863  PMID: 20459811
8.  Increased activity and expression of histone deacetylase 1 in relation to tumor necrosis factor-alpha in synovial tissue of rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2010;12(4):R133.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the profile of histone deacetylase (HDAC) expression in the synovial tissue of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) compared with that of normal control and osteoarthritis (OA), and to examine whether there is a link between HDAC activity and synovial inflammation.
HDAC activity and histone acetyltransferase (HAT) activity were determined in nuclear extracts of total synovial tissue surgically obtained from normal, OA and RA joints. The level of cytoplasmic tumor necrosis factor a (TNFα) fraction was measured by ELISA. Total RNA of synovial tissue was used for RT-PCR of HDAC1-8. In synovial fibroblasts from RA (RASFs), the effects of TNFα on nuclear HDAC activity and class I HDACs (1, 2, 3, 8) mRNA expressions were examined by quantitative real-time PCR. The protein expression and distribution of class I HDACs were examined by Western blotting.
Nuclear HDAC activity was significantly higher in RA than in OA and normal controls and correlated with the amount of cytoplasmic TNFα. The mRNA expression of HDAC1 in RA synovial tissue was higher than in OA and normal controls, and showed positive correlation with TNFα mRNA expression. The protein level of nuclear HDAC1 was higher in RA synovial tissue compared with OA synovial tissue. Stimulation with TNFα significantly increased the nuclear HDAC activity and HDAC1 mRNA expression at 24 hours and HDAC1 protein expression at 48 hours in RASFs.
Our results showed nuclear HDAC activity and expression of HDAC1 were significantly higher in RA than in OA synovial tissues, and they were upregulated by TNFα stimulation in RASFs. These data might provide important clues for the development of specific small molecule HDAC inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC2945023  PMID: 20609223
9.  p53 in rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts at sites of invasion 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2003;62(12):1139-1144.
Objective: To analyse the functional response of p53 in rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts (RASF) in vitro and in vivo and to investigate whether activation of p53 modulates the destructive process of RASF.
Methods: RASF and controls grown on chamber slides were either directly examined with DO7 anti-p53 antibodies by immunofluorescence or irradiated with 10 Gy x rays and analysed time dependently for the expression of p53. The percentage of positive cells was evaluated by a quantitative scoring system. RASF and normal (N) SF cultured in vitro were co-implanted with human cartilage in SCID mice for 60 days. Consecutively, the invasion score was evaluated, and the number of p53 positive cells was determined at the sites of invasion by immunohistochemistry. In addition, synovial tissues from RA, osteoarthritis, and normal synovia were stained with DO7 antibodies.
Results: In vitro the rate of expression of p53 in RASF was low (<5%), but transiently inducible by ionising irradiation (50%). In vitro low p53 expressing RASF disclosed, when invading articular cartilage, a nuclear p53 signal in 20% of the cells, indicating the induction of p53 in a distinct population of RASF during the invasive process.
Conclusions: These data suggest an inductive p53 response at sites of cartilage invasion during the destructive process driven by activated RASF.
PMCID: PMC1754413  PMID: 14644850
10.  Differential expression and functional behaviour of the αv and β3 integrin subunits in cytokine stimulated fibroblast-like cells derived from synovial tissue of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis in vitro 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1997;56(12):729-736.
OBJECTIVE—The aim of this study was to investigate in situ the expression of the classic vitronectin (VN) receptor consisting of the αv and β3 subunits in synovial lining cells (SLC) of chronic synovitis occurring in osteoarthritis (OA) and in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The expression and function of αv and β3 as VN receptor in cultured fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FBS) derived from patients with OA and RA was also compared.
METHODS—Expression of αv and β3 was examined immunohistochemically in normal synovial tissue and in synovial tisssue from patients with OA and RA. The effect of proinflammatory cytokines and of a synovial fluid of a patient with RA on the expression of the αv and β3 subunits of cultured FBS was determined by flow cytometry. Binding of OA and RA-FBS to VN was quantified using adhesion assays and the effect of interleukin 1β (IL1β) and tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα) on adhesion was measured. The specifity of the adhesion was tested by inhibition studies using monoclonal antibodies to integrin subunits.
RESULTS—In in situ studies normal SLC showed a parallel distribution of αv and β3 subunits. OA-SLC strongly and uniformly expressed αv whereas RA-SLC showed heterogeneous expression of αv. In situ both OA-SLC and RA-SLC lacked the expression of the integrin subunit β3. In in vitro studies, OA-FBS and RA-FBS did not differ as regards expression of αv and β3, and VN attachment. Binding of RA-FBS to VN was partially blocked by antibodies against αv, β1, and β3 subunits, whereas only antibodies against αv and β3 inhibited the binding of OA-FBS to VN. The proinflammatory cytokines TNFα and IL1β increased the expression of αv and β3, and the VN binding of OA-FBS, whereas αv and β3 expression, and VN binding were downregulated in RA-FBS. Similar effects were found when the synovial fluid of an RA patient was used.
CONCLUSION—The integrin subunit β3 seems to be one partner but not the major one with which the subunit αv forms functional vitronectin receptors in OA-FBS and RA-FBS. The interaction between synovial cells and inflammatory cytokines seems to be different for OA and RA; the basis for this difference, however, remains to be established.

PMCID: PMC1752301  PMID: 9496152
11.  Resistin in rheumatoid arthritis synovial tissue, synovial fluid and serum 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2006;66(4):458-463.
Resistin is a newly identified adipocytokine which has demonstrated links between obesity and insulin resistance in rodents. In humans, proinflammatory properties of resistin are superior to its insulin resistance‐inducing effects.
To assess resistin expression in synovial tissues, serum and synovial fluid from patients with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and spondylarthropathies (SpA), and to study its relationship with inflammatory status and rheumatoid arthritis disease activity.
Resistin expression and localisation in synovial tissue was determined by immunohistochemistry and confocal microscopy. Serum and synovial fluid resistin, leptin, interleukin (IL)1β, IL6, IL8, tumour necrosis factor α, and monocyte chemoattractant protein‐1 levels were measured. The clinical activity of patients with rheumatoid arthritis was assessed according to the 28 joint count Disease Activity Score (DAS28).
Resistin was detected in the synovium in both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Staining in the sublining layer was more intensive in patients with rheumatoid arthritis compared with those with osteoarthritis. In rheumatoid arthritis, macrophages (CD68), B lymphocytes (CD20) and plasma cells (CD138) but not T lymphocytes (CD3) showed colocalisation with resistin. Synovial fluid resistin was higher in patients with rheumatoid arthritis than in those with SpA or osteoarthritis (both p<0.001). In patients with rheumatoid arthritis and SpA, serum resistin levels were higher than those with osteoarthritis (p<0.01). Increased serum resistin in patients with rheumatoid arthritis correlated with both CRP (r = 0.53, p<0.02), and DAS28 (r = 0.44, p<0.05), but not with selected (adipo) cytokines.
The upregulated resistin at local sites of inflammation and the link between serum resistin, inflammation and disease activity suggest a role for resistin in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis.
PMCID: PMC1856051  PMID: 17040961
12.  Interactions between IL-32 and tumor necrosis factor alpha contribute to the exacerbation of immune-inflammatory diseases 
IL-32 is a newly described cytokine in the human found to be an in vitro inducer of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα). We examined the in vivo relationship between IL-32 and TNFα, and the pathologic role of IL-32 in the TNFα-related diseases – arthritis and colitis. We demonstrated by quantitative PCR assay that IL-32 mRNA was expressed in the lymphoid tissues, and in stimulated peripheral T cells, monocytes, and B cells. Activated T cells were important for IL-32 mRNA expression in monocytes and B cells. Interestingly, TNFα reciprocally induced IL-32 mRNA expression in T cells, monocyte-derived dendritic cells, and synovial fibroblasts. Moreover, IL-32 mRNA expression was prominent in the synovial tissues of rheumatoid arthritis patients, especially in synovial-infiltrated lymphocytes by in situ hybridization. To examine the in vivo relationship of IL-32 and TNFα, we prepared an overexpression model mouse of human IL-32β (BM-hIL-32) by bone marrow transplantation. Splenocytes of BM-hIL-32 mice showed increased expression and secretion of TNFα, IL-1β, and IL-6 especially in response to lipopolysaccharide stimulation. Moreover, serum TNFα concentration showed a clear increase in BM-hIL-32 mice. Cell-sorting analysis of splenocytes showed that the expression of TNFα was increased in resting F4/80+ macrophages, and the expression of TNFα, IL-1β and IL-6 was increased in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated F4/80+ macrophages and CD11c+ dendritic cells. In fact, BM-hIL-32 mice showed exacerbation of collagen-antibody-induced arthritis and trinitrobenzen sulfonic acid-induced colitis. In addition, the transfer of hIL-32β-producing CD4+ T cells significantly exacerbated collagen-induced arthritis, and a TNFα blockade cancelled the exacerbating effects of hIL-32β. We therefore conclude that IL-32 is closely associated with TNFα, and contributes to the exacerbation of TNFα-related inflammatory arthritis and colitis.
PMCID: PMC1794509  PMID: 17078892
13.  Interleukin 34 expression is associated with synovitis severity in rheumatoid arthritis patients 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2011;71(1):150-154.
Interleukin-34 (IL-34) is a new cytokine implicated in macrophage differentiation and osteoclastogenesis. The present study assessed the IL-34 expression in the tissue of patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
Immunohistochemistry was performed in synovial biopsy from patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (n=20), osteoarthritis (n=3) or other inflammatory arthritis (n=4). IL-34 was detected in the synovial fluid by ELISA and its mRNA expression was studied by qPCR in rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts after stimulation by TNF-α and IL-1β. Wild type, jnk1−/−-jnk2−/− and nemo−/− murine fibroblasts and pharmacological inhibitions were used to determine the involvement of NFκB and JNK in that effect.
IL-34 was expressed in 24/27 biopsies with 3 samples from RA patients being negative. We found a significant association between IL-34 expression and the synovitis severity. Levels of IL-34 and the total leukocyte count in the synovial fluid were correlated. TNF-α and IL-1β stimulated Il-34 expression by the synovial fibroblasts in a dose/time dependant manner through the NFκB and JUNK pathway.
This work identify for the first time IL-34 expression in the synovial tissue of arthritic patients. This cytokine, as a downstream effector of TNF-α and IL-1β, may contribute to the inflammation and bone erosions in RA.
PMCID: PMC3413617  PMID: 22039170
Adult; Aged; Aged, 80 and over; Arthritis, Rheumatoid; complications; genetics; metabolism; Cells, Cultured; Dose-Response Relationship, Drug; Female; Fibroblasts; drug effects; metabolism; Gene Expression Regulation; drug effects; Humans; Interleukin-1beta; pharmacology; Interleukins; genetics; metabolism; MAP Kinase Signaling System; physiology; Male; Middle Aged; NF-kappa B; physiology; Osteoarthritis; genetics; metabolism; RNA, Messenger; genetics; Synovial Fluid; metabolism; Synovitis; etiology; genetics; metabolism; Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha; pharmacology; Interleukin-34; Arthritis; Rheumatoid Arthritis; Osteoarthritis; inflammation
14.  Exposure to Metal-Rich Particulate Matter Modifies the Expression of Candidate MicroRNAs in Peripheral Blood Leukocytes 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2010;118(6):763-768.
Altered patterns of gene expression mediate the effects of particulate matter (PM) on human health, but mechanisms through which PM modifies gene expression are largely undetermined. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are highly conserved, noncoding small RNAs that regulate the expression of broad gene networks at the posttranscriptional level.
We evaluated the effects of exposure to PM and PM metal components on candidate miRNAs (miR-222, miR-21, and miR-146a) related with oxidative stress and inflammatory processes in 63 workers at an electric-furnace steel plant.
We measured miR-222, miR-21, and miR-146a expression in blood leukocyte RNA on the first day of a workweek (baseline) and after 3 days of work (postexposure). Relative expression of miRNAs was measured by real-time polymerase chain reaction. We measured blood oxidative stress (8-hydroxyguanine) and estimated individual exposures to PM1 (< 1 μm in aerodynamic diameter), PM10 (< 10 μm in aerodynamic diameter), coarse PM (PM10 minus PM1), and PM metal components (chromium, lead, cadmium, arsenic, nickel, manganese) between the baseline and postexposure measurements.
Expression of miR-222 and miR-21 (using the 2−ΔΔCT method) was significantly increased in postexposure samples (miR-222: baseline = 0.68 ± 3.41, postexposure = 2.16 ± 2.25, p = 0.002; miR-21: baseline = 4.10 ± 3.04, postexposure = 4.66 ± 2.63, p = 0.05). In postexposure samples, miR-222 expression was positively correlated with lead exposure (β = 0.41, p = 0.02), whereas miR-21 expression was associated with blood 8-hydroxyguanine (β = 0.11, p = 0.03) but not with individual PM size fractions or metal components. Postexposure expression of miR-146a was not significantly different from baseline (baseline = 0.61 ± 2.42, postexposure = 1.90 ± 3.94, p = 0.19) but was negatively correlated with exposure to lead (β = −0.51, p = 0.011) and cadmium (β = −0.42, p = 0.04).
Changes in miRNA expression may represent a novel mechanism mediating responses to PM and its metal components.
PMCID: PMC2898851  PMID: 20061215
epigenetics; etiology; miRNA expression; particulate matter; peripheral blood leukocytes
15.  MicroRNAs in Rheumatoid Arthritis 
FEBS letters  2011;585(23):3667-3674.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic and severe autoimmune disease that affects joint tissues, bone, and cartilage. However, the pathogenesis of RA is still unclear. Autoantibodies such as rheumatoid factor and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide are useful tools for early diagnosis, monitoring disease activity, and predicting prognosis. Recently, many groups have focused their attention on the role of microRNAs in the pathogenesis of RA, as well as a potential biomarker to monitor RA. In fact, the expression of some microRNAs, such as miR-146a, is upregulated in different cell types and tissues in RA patients. MicroRNAs in RA could also be considered as possible future targets for new therapeutic approaches.
PMCID: PMC3168677  PMID: 21600203
autoimmunity; innate immunity; rheumatoid arthritis; microRNA; miR-146a
16.  Expression and clinicopathological significance of miR-146a in hepatocellular carcinoma tissues 
Aberrant expression of microRNA-146a (miR-146a) has been found in several classes of cancers. However, its expression and clinicopathological contribution in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has not been fully elucidated.
To explore the clinicopathological significance of the miR-146a level in HCC formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue.
Eighty-five HCC samples and their para-cancerous normal liver tissues were collected. Total mRNA including miRNA was extracted, and miR-146a expression was determined using real-time RT-PCR. Furthermore, the correlation between the miR-146a expression and clinicopathological parameters was investigated.
MicroRNA-146a expression in HCC tissues was lower compared with that in adjacent non-cancerous hepatic tissues. MicroRNA-146a expression was also related to clinical TNM stage, metastasis, portal vein tumor embolus, and number of tumor nodes.
Down-regulation of miR-146a is related to HCC carcinogenesis and deterioration of HCC. MicroRNA-146a may act as a suppressor miRNA of HCC, and it is therefore a potential prognostic biomarker for HCC patients.
PMCID: PMC3916713  PMID: 24172202
Hepatocellular carcinoma; metastasis; miR-146a; oncogenes; paraffin-embedded tissues; pathology; RT-qPCR; tumor biology
17.  Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-1α and Interleukin 33 Form a Regulatory Circuit to Perpetuate the Inflammation in Rheumatoid Arthritis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72650.
Hyperplasia of synovial fibroblasts, infiltration with inflammatory cytokines, and tissue hypoxia are the major characteristics of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Interleukin 33 (IL-33) is a newly identified inflammatory cytokine exacerbating the disease severity of RA. Hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) showed increased expression in RA synovium and could regulate a number of inflammatory cytokine productions. Nevertheless, its correlation with IL-33 remains largely unknown. Here, we showed that elevated levels of IL-33 were demonstrated in RA patient synovial fluids, with upregulated expression of HIF-1α and IL-33 in the synovial fibroblasts. Knocking down HIF-1α compromised IL-33 expression in rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts (RASF), while enforcing HIF-1α expression in RASF substantially upregulated IL-33 levels. HIF-1α promoted the activation of the signalling pathways controlling IL-33 production, particularly the p38 and ERK pathways. Moreover, we showed for the first time that IL-33 in turn could induce more HIF-1α expression in RASF, thus forming a HIF-1α/IL-33 regulatory circuit that would perpetuate the inflammatory process in RA. Targeting this pathological pathway and HIF-1α may provide new therapeutic strategies for overcoming the persistent and chronic inflammatory disease.
PMCID: PMC3744448  PMID: 23967327
18.  Plasminogen activation in synovial tissues: differences between normal, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis joints 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1997;56(9):550-557.
OBJECTIVE—To analyse the functional activity of the plasminogen activators urokinase (uPA) and tissue type plasminogen activator (tPA) in human synovial membrane, and to compare the pattern of expression between normal, osteoarthritic, and rheumatoid synovium. The molecular mechanisms underlying differences in PA activities between normal and pathological synovial tissues have been further examined.
METHODS—Synovial membranes from seven normal (N) subjects, 14 osteoarthritis (OA), and 10 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients were analysed for plasminogen activator activity by conventional zymography and in situ zymography on tissue sections. The tissue distribution of uPA, tPA, uPA receptor (uPAR), and plasminogen activator inhibitor type-1 (PAI-1) was studied by immunohistochemistry. uPA, tPA, uPAR, and PAI-1 mRNA values and mRNA distribution were assessed by northern blot and in situ hybridisations respectively.
RESULTS—All normal and most OA synovial tissues expressed predominantly tPA catalysed proteolytic activity mainly associated to the synovial vasculature. In some OA, tPA activity was expressed together with variable amounts of uPA mediated activity. By contrast, most RA synovial tissues exhibited considerably increased uPA activity over the proliferative lining areas, while tPA activity was reduced when compared with N and OA synovial tissues. This increase in uPA activity was associated with increased levels of uPA antigen and its corresponding mRNA, which were localised over the synovial proliferative lining areas. In addition, in RA tissues, expression of the specific uPA receptor (uPAR) and of the plasminogen activator inhibitor-type 1 (PAI-1) were also increased.
CONCLUSION—Taken together, these results show an alteration of the PA/plasmin system in RA synovial tissues, resulting in increased uPA catalytic activity that may play a part in tissue destruction in RA.

PMCID: PMC1752434  PMID: 9370880
19.  miR-146a Enhances the Oncogenicity of Oral Carcinoma by Concomitant Targeting of the IRAK1, TRAF6 and NUMB Genes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79926.
MicroRNAs are short non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression and are crucial to tumorigenesis. Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is a prevalent malignancy worldwide. Up-regulation of miR-146 has been identified in OSCC tissues. However, the roles of miR-146 in carcinogenesis are controversial as it is suppressive in many other malignancies. The present study investigated the pathogenic implications of miR-146a in oral carcinogenesis. Microdissected OSCC exhibits higher levels of miR-146a expression than matched adjacent mucosal cells. The plasma miR-146a levels of patients are significantly higher than those of control subjects; these levels decrease drastically after tumor resection. miR-146a levels in tumors and in patients’ plasma can be used to classify OSCC and non-disease status (sensitivity: >0.72). Exogenous miR-146a expression is significantly increased in vitro oncogenic phenotypes as well as during xenograft tumorigenesis and OSCC metastasis. The plasma miR-146a levels of these mice parallel the xenograft tumor burdens of the mice. A miR-146a blocker abrogates the growth of xenograft tumors. miR-146a oncogenic activity is associated with down-regulation of IRAK1, TRAF6 and NUMB expression. Furthermore, miR-146a directly targets the 3′UTR of NUMB and a region within the NUMB coding sequence when suppressing NUMB expression. Exogenous NUMB expression attenuates OSCC oncogenicity. Double knockdown of IRAK1 and TRAF6, and of TRAF6 and NUMB, enhance the oncogenic phenotypes of OSCC cells. Oncogenic enhancement modulated by miR-146a expression is attenuated by exogenous IRAK1 or NUMB expression. This study shows that miR-146a expression contributes to oral carcinogenesis by targeting the IRAK1, TRAF6 and NUMB genes.
PMCID: PMC3841223  PMID: 24302991
20.  Importance of NF-κB in rheumatoid synovial tissues: in situ NF-κB expression and in vitro study using cultured synovial cells 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2001;60(7):678-684.
OBJECTIVES—To examine whether inhibition of NF-κB induces apoptosis of human synovial cells stimulated by tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα), interleukin 1β (IL1β), and anti-Fas monoclonal antibody (mAb).
METHODS—The expression of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), NF-κB, and the presence of apoptotic synovial cells were determined in synovial tissues. Apoptosis of cultured synovial cells was induced by inhibition of NF-κB nuclear translocation by Z-Leu-Leu-Leu-aldehyde (LLL-CHO). The activation of caspase-3 and expression of XIAP and cIAP2 in synovial cells in LLL-CHO induced apoptosis was also examined.
RESULTS—Abundant PCNA+ synovial cells were found in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) synovial tissue, though a few apoptotic synovial cells were also detected in the RA synovial tissues. Nuclear NF-κB was expressed in RA synovial cells. Electrophoretic mobility shift assay showed that treatment of cells with TNFα or IL1β significantly stimulated nuclear NF-κB activity. A small number of apoptotic synovial cells expressing intracellular active caspase-3 were found after treatment of cells with LLL-CHO. Although treatment of RA synovial cells with TNFα or IL1β alone did not induce apoptosis, apoptosis induced by LLL-CHO and caspase-3 activation were clearly enhanced in TNFα or IL1β stimulated synovial cells compared with unstimulated synovial cells. Furthermore, induction of apoptosis of synovial cells with caspase-3 activation by anti-Fas mAb was clearly increased by LLL-CHO. The expression of cIAP2 and XIAP in synovial cells may not directly influence the sensitivity of synovial cells to apoptosis induced by LLL-CHO.
CONCLUSION—The results suggest that NF-κB inhibition may be a potentially important therapeutic approach for RA by correcting the imbalance between apoptosis and proliferation of synovial cells in RA synovial tissue.

PMCID: PMC1753739  PMID: 11406522
21.  TWEAK and Fn14 expression in the pathogenesis of joint inflammation and bone erosion in rheumatoid arthritis 
TNF-like weak inducer of apoptosis (TWEAK) has been proposed as a mediator of inflammation and bone erosion in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This study aimed to investigate TWEAK and TWEAK receptor (Fn14) expression in synovial tissue from patients with active and inactive rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis (OA) and normal controls and assess soluble (s)TWEAK levels in the synovial fluids from patients with active RA and OA. Effects of sTWEAK on osteoclasts and osteoblasts were investigated in vitro.
TWEAK and Fn14 expression were detected in synovial tissues by immunohistochemistry (IHC). Selected tissues were dual labelled with antibodies specific for TWEAK and lineage-selective cell surface markers CD68, Tryptase G, CD22 and CD38. TWEAK mRNA expression was examined in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) sorted on the basis of their expression of CD22. sTWEAK was detected in synovial fluid from OA and RA patients by ELISA. The effect of sTWEAK on PBMC and RAW 264.7 osteoclastogenesis was examined. The effect of sTWEAK on cell surface receptor activator of NF Kappa B Ligand (RANKL) expression by human osteoblasts was determined by flow cytometry.
TWEAK and Fn14 expression were significantly higher in synovial tissue from all patient groups compared to the synovial tissue from control subjects (P < 0.05). TWEAK was significantly higher in active compared with inactive RA tissues (P < 0.05). TWEAK expression co-localised with a subset of CD38+ plasma cells and with CD22+ B-lymphocytes in RA tissues. Abundant TWEAK mRNA expression was detected in normal human CD22+ B cells. Higher levels of sTWEAK were observed in synovial fluids isolated from active RA compared with OA patients. sTWEAK did not stimulate osteoclast formation directly from PBMC, however, sTWEAK induced the surface expression of RANKL by human immature, STRO-1+ osteoblasts.
The expression of TWEAK by CD22+ B cells and CD38+ plasma cells in RA synovium represents a novel potential pathogenic pathway. High levels of sTWEAK in active RA synovial fluid and of TWEAK and Fn14 in active RA tissue, together with the effect of TWEAK to induce osteoblastic RANKL expression, is consistent with TWEAK/Fn14 signalling being important in the pathogenesis of inflammation and bone erosion in RA.
PMCID: PMC3132040  PMID: 21435232
22.  TNFα induces sustained signaling and a prolonged and unremitting inflammatory response in synovial fibroblasts 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2013;65(4):928-938.
The non resolving character of synovial inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a conundrum. To identify the contribution of fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) to the perpetuation of synovitis, we investigated the molecular mechanisms that govern the TNFα-driven inflammatory program in human FLS.
FLS obtained from synovial tissues of patients with RA or osteoarthritis were stimulated with TNFα and assayed for gene expression and cytokine production by qPCR and ELISA. NF-κB signaling was evaluated using Western blotting. Histone acetylation, chromatin accessibility, and NF-κB p65 and RNA polymerase II (Pol II) occupancy at the IL6 promoter were measured by chromatin immunoprecipitation and restriction enzyme accessibility assays.
In FLS, TNFα induced prolonged transcription of IL6 and progressive accumulation of IL-6 protein over four days. Similarly, induction of CXCL8/IL-8, CCL5/RANTES, MMP1 and MMP3 mRNA after TNFα stimulation was sustained for several days. This contrasted with the macrophage response to TNFα, which characteristically involved a transient increase in the expression of pro-inflammatory genes. In FLS, TNFα induced prolonged activation of NF-κB signaling and sustained transcriptional activity indicated by increased histone acetylation, chromatin accessibility, and p65 and Pol II occupancy at the IL6 promoter. Furthermore, FLS expressed low levels of the feedback inhibitors ABIN3, IRAK-M, SOCS3 and ATF3 that terminate inflammatory responses in macrophages.
TNFα signaling is not effectively terminated in FLS, leading to an uncontrolled inflammatory response. The results suggest that prolonged and sustained inflammatory responses by FLS, in response to synovial TNFα, contribute to the persistence of synovial inflammation in RA.
PMCID: PMC3618592  PMID: 23335080
fibroblast-like synoviocytes; rheumatoid arthritis; signal transduction; TNFα; chromatin
23.  Decrease in expression of bone morphogenetic proteins 4 and 5 in synovial tissue of patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis 
Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) have been identified as important morphogens with pleiotropic functions in regulating the development, homeostasis and repair of various tissues. The aim of this study was to characterize the expression of BMPs in synovial tissues under normal and arthritic conditions. Synovial tissue from normal donors (ND) and from patients with osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) were analyzed for BMP expression by using microarray hybridization. Differential expression of BMP-4 and BMP-5 was validated by semiquantitative RT-PCR, in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry. Activity of arthritis was determined by routine parameters for systemic inflammation, by histological scoring of synovitis and by semiquantitative RT-PCR of IL-1β, TNF-α, stromelysin and collagenase I in synovial tissue. Expression of BMP-4 and BMP-5 mRNA was found to be significantly decreased in synovial tissue of patients with RA in comparison with ND by microarray analysis (p < 0.0083 and p < 0.0091). Validation by PCR confirmed these data in RA (p < 0.002) and also revealed a significant decrease in BMP-4 and BMP-5 expression in OA compared with ND (p < 0.015). Furthermore, histomorphological distribution of both morphogens as determined by in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry showed a dominance in the lining layer of normal tissues, whereas chronically inflamed tissue from patients with RA revealed BMP expression mainly scattered across deeper layers. In OA, these changes were less pronounced with variable distribution of BMPs in the lining and sublining layer. BMP-4 and BMP-5 are expressed in normal synovial tissue and were found decreased in OA and RA. This may suggest a role of distinct BMPs in joint homeostasis that is disturbed in inflammatory and degenerative joint diseases. In comparison with previous reports, these data underline the complex impact of these factors on homeostasis and remodeling in joint physiology and pathology.
PMCID: PMC1526630  PMID: 16542506
24.  Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization for MicroRNA Detection in Archived Oral Cancer Tissues 
Journal of Oncology  2012;2012:903581.
The noncoding RNA designated as microRNA (miRNA) is a large group of small single-stranded regulatory RNA and has generated wide-spread interest in human disease studies. To facilitate delineating the role of microRNAs in cancer pathology, we sought to explore the feasibility of detecting microRNA expression in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues. Using FFPE materials, we have compared fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) procedures to detect miR-146a with (a) different synthetic probes: regular custom DNA oligonucleotides versus locked nucleic acid (LNA) incorporated DNA oligonucleotides; (b) different reporters for the probes: biotin versus digoxigenin (DIG); (c) different visualization: traditional versus tyramide signal amplification (TSA) system; (d) different blocking reagents for endogenous peroxidase. Finally, we performed miR-146a FISH on a commercially available oral cancer tissue microarray, which contains 40 cases of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) and 10 cases of normal epithelia from the human oral cavity. A sample FISH protocol for detecting miR-146a is provided. In summary, we have established reliable in situ hybridization procedures for detecting the expression of microRNA in FFPE oral cancer tissues. This method is an important tool for studies on the involvement of microRNA in oral cancer pathology and may have potential prognostic or diagnostic value.
PMCID: PMC3359729  PMID: 22654907
25.  Down regulation by iron of prostaglandin E2 production by human synovial fibroblasts 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1998;57(12):742-746.
OBJECTIVE—To examine the effect of iron on the prostaglandin (PG) E2 production by human synovial fibroblasts in vitro.
METHODS—Human synovial fibroblasts were isolated from synovial tissue of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA) patients and cultured in medium. Synovial fibroblasts were stimulated by human recombinant interleukin (IL) 1β (0.1-10 ng/ml) with or without ferric citrate (Fe-citrate, 0.01-1 mM). The amount of PGE2 in the culture medium was measured by an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay.
RESULTS—The production of PGE2 by the synovial fibroblasts was increased by stimulation with IL1β at all concentrations tested. Fe-citrate but not sodium citrate (Na-citrate) down regulated the production of PGE2 by the synovial fibroblasts, both with and without stimulation by IL1β. Fe-citrate inhibited the spontaneous PGE2 production by the cells in a dose dependent manner, and a maximum inhibition by Fe-citrate was observed at the concentration of 0.1 mM with IL1β stimulation. The down regulation by iron was reversed by the co-addition of desferrioxamine (100 µg/ml), an iron chelator.
CONCLUSION—Iron down regulates the PGE2 production by synovial fibroblasts in vitro.

 Keywords: rheumatoid arthritis; joint inflammation; cyclooxygenase; cytokine; inflammatory mediators
PMCID: PMC1752513  PMID: 10070275

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