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1.  Protection against cartilage and bone destruction by systemic interleukin-4 treatment in established murine type II collagen-induced arthritis 
Arthritis Research  1999;1(1):81-91.
Destruction of cartilage and bone are hallmarks of human rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and controlling these erosive processes is the most challenging objective in the treatment of RA. Systemic interleukin-4 treatment of established murine collagen-induced arthritis suppressed disease activity and protected against cartilage and bone destruction. Reduced cartilage pathology was confirmed by both decreased serum cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP) and histological examination. In addition, radiological analysis revealed that bone destruction was also partially prevented. Improved suppression of joint swelling was achieved when interleukin-4 treatment was combined with low-dose prednisolone treatment. Interestingly, synergistic reduction of both serum COMP and inflammatory parameters was noted when low-dose interleukin-4 was combined with prednisolone. Systemic treatment with interleukin-4 appeared to be a protective therapy for cartilage and bone in arthritis, and in combination with prednisolone at low dosages may offer an alternative therapy in RA.
Introduction:
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is associated with an increased production of a range of cytokines including tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α and interleukin (IL)-1, which display potent proinflammatory actions that are thought to contribute to the pathogenesis of the disease. Although TNF-α seems to be the major cytokine in the inflammatory process, IL-1 is the key mediator with regard to cartilage and bone destruction. Apart from direct blockade of IL-1/TNF, regulation can be exerted at the level of modulatory cytokines such as IL-4 and IL-10. IL-4 is a pleiotropic T-cell derived cytokine that can exert either suppressive or stimulatory effects on different cell types, and was originally identified as a B-cell growth factor and regulator of humoral immune pathways. IL-4 is produced by activated CD4+ T cells and it promotes the maturation of Th2 cells. IL-4 stimulates proliferation, differentiation and activation of several cell types, including fibroblasts, endothelial cells and epithelial cells. IL-4 is also known to be a potent anti-inflammatory cytokine that acts by inhibiting the synthesis of proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-1, TNF-α, IL-6, IL-8 and IL-12 by macrophages and monocytes. Moreover, IL-4 stimulates the synthesis of several cytokine inhibitors such as interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra), soluble IL-1-receptor type II and TNF receptors IL-4 suppresses metalloproteinase production and stimulates tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 production in human mononuclear phagocytes and cartilage explants, indicating a protective effect of IL-4 towards extracellular matrix degradation. Furthermore, IL-4 inhibits both osteoclast activity and survival, and thereby blocks bone resorption in vitro. Of great importance is that IL-4 could not be detected in synovial fluid or in tissues. This absence of IL-4 in the joint probably contributes to the disturbance in the Th1/Th2 balance in chronic RA.
Collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) is a widely used model of arthritis that displays several features of human RA. Recently it was demonstrated that the onset of CIA is under stringent control of IL-4 and IL-10. Furthermore, it was demonstrated that exposure to IL-4 during the immunization stage reduced onset and severity of CIA. However, after cessation of IL-4 treatment disease expression increased to control values.
Aims:
Because it was reported that IL-4 suppresses several proinflammatory cytokines and matrix degrading enzymes and upregulates inhibitors of both cytokines and catabolic enzymes, we investigated the tissue protective effect of systemic IL-4 treatment using established murine CIA as a model. Potential synergy of low dosages of anti-inflammatory glucocorticosteroids and IL-4 was also evaluated.
Methods:
DBA-1J/Bom mice were immunized with bovine type II collagen and boosted at day 21. Mice with established CIA were selected at day 28 after immunization and treated for days with IL-4, prednisolone, or combinations of prednisolone and IL-4. Arthritis score was monitored visually. Joint pathology was evaluated by histology, radiology and serum cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP). In addition, serum levels of IL-1Ra and anticollagen antibodies were determined.
Results:
Treatment of established CIA with IL-4 (1 μg/day) resulted in suppression of disease activity as depicted in Figure 1. Of great interest is that, although 1 μg/day IL-4 had only a moderate effect on the inflammatory component of the disease activity, it strongly reduced cartilage pathology, as determined by histological examination (Fig. 1). Moreover, serum COMP levels were significantly reduced, confirming decreased cartilage involvement. In addition, both histological and radiological analysis showed that bone destruction was prevented (Fig. 1). Systemic IL-4 administration increased serum IL-1Ra levels and reduced anticollagen type II antibody levels. Treatment with low-dose IL-4 (0.1 μg/day) was ineffective in suppressing disease score, serum COMP or joint destruction. Synergistic suppression of both arthritis severity and COMP levels was noted when low-dose IL-4 was combined with prednisolone (0.05 mg/kg/day), however, which in itself was not effective.
Discussion:
In the present study, we demonstrate that systemic IL-4 treatment ameliorates disease progression of established CIA. Although clinical disease progression was only arrested and not reversed, clear protection against cartilage and bone destruction was noted. This is in accord with findings in both human RA and animal models of RA that show that inflammation and tissue destruction sometimes are uncoupled processes. Of great importance is that, although inflammation was still present, strong reduction in serum COMP was found after exposure to IL-4. This indicated that serum COMP levels reflected cartilage damage, although a limited contribution of the inflamed synovium cannot be excluded.
Increased serum IL-1Ra level (twofold) was found after systemic treatment with IL-4, but it is not likely that this could explain the suppression of CIA. We and others have reported that high dosages of IL-1Ra are needed for marked suppression of CIA. As reported previously, lower dosages of IL-4 did not reduce clinical disease severity of established CIA. Of importance is that combined treatment of low dosages of IL-4 and IL-10 appeared to have more potent anti-inflammatory effects, and markedly protected against cartilage destruction. Improved anti-inflammatory effect was achieved with IL-4/prednisolone treatment. In addition, synergistic effects were found for the reduction of cartilage and bone destruction. This indicates that systemic IL-4/prednisolone treatment may provide a cartilage and bone protective therapy for human RA.
Effects in mice of treatment with interleukin-4 or control on disease activity, cartilage damage and bone destruction. Mice were treated intraperitoneally for 7 days with either vehicle (control) or 1 μg/day interleukin-4 (IL-4). CIA, collagen-induced arthritis. *P < 0.05, versus control, by Mann-Whitney U test.
PMCID: PMC17779  PMID: 11056663
bone destruction; cartilage oligomeric matrix protein levels; collagen-induced arthritis; interleukin-4; prednisolone
2.  Inhibition of synovitis and joint destruction by a new single domain antibody specific for cyclophilin A in two different mouse models of rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2013;15(6):R208.
Introduction
Cyclophilin A (CypA) is implicated in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) pathogenesis. We studied whether a novel anti-CypA single domain antibody (sdAb) treatment would modulate the severity of the disease in two different animal models of RA.
Methods
A novel sdAb, named sdAbA1, was screened from an immunized camel sdAb library and found to have a high binding affinity (KD = 6.9 × 10-9 M) for CypA. The SCID-HuRAg model and the collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) in mice were used to evaluate the effects of sdAbA1 treatment on inflammation and joint destruction. For in vitro analysis, monocytes/macrophages were purified from synovial fluid and peripheral blood of patients with RA and were tested for the effect of anti-CypA sdAb on metalloproteinase (MMP) production. Human monocyte cell line THP-1 cells were selected and western blot analyses were performed to examine the potential signaling pathways.
Results
In the CIA model of RA, the sdAbA1 treatment resulted in a significant decrease in clinical symptoms as well as of joint damage (P <0.05). In the SCID-HuRAg model, treatment with anti-CypA antibody sdAbA1 significantly reduced cartilage erosion, inflammatory cell numbers and MMP-9 production in the implanted tissues (P <0.05). It also significantly reduced the levels of human inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and IL-8 in mouse serum (P <0.05). No toxic effects were observed in the two animal models. In vitro results showed that sdAbA1 could counteract CypA-dependent MMP-9 secretion and IL-8 production by interfering with the ERK-NF-κB pathway.
Conclusions
Blockade of CypA significantly inhibited synovitis and cartilage/bone erosion in the two tested animal models of RA. Our findings provide evidence that sdAbA1 may be a potential therapeutic agent for RA.
doi:10.1186/ar4401
PMCID: PMC3978695  PMID: 24314202
3.  The effects of 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 on matrix metalloproteinase and prostaglandin E2 production by cells of the rheumatoid lesion 
Arthritis Research  1999;1(1):63-70.
The biologically active metabolite of vitamin D3, 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1α,25(OH)2D3], acts through vitamin D receptors, which were found in rheumatoid tissues in the present study. IL-1β-activated rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts and human articular chondrocytes were shown to respond differently to exposure to 1α,25(OH)2D3, which has different effects on the regulatory pathways of specific matrix metalloproteinases and prostaglandin E2.
Introduction:
1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1α,25(OH)2D3], the biologically active metabolite of vitamin D3, acts through an intracellular vitamin D receptor (VDR) and has several immunostimulatory effects. Animal studies have shown that production of some matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) may be upregulated in rat chondrocytes by administration of 1α,25(OH)2D3; and cell cultures have suggested that 1α,25(OH)2D3 may affect chondrocytic function. Discoordinate regulation by vitamin D of MMP-1 and MMP-9 in human mononuclear phagocytes has also been reported. These data suggest that vitamin D may regulate MMP expression in tissues where VDRs are expressed. Production of 1α,25(OH)2D3 within synovial fluids of arthritic joints has been shown and VDRs have been found in rheumatoid synovial tissues and at sites of cartilage erosion. The physiological function of 1α,25(OH)2D3 at these sites remains obscure. MMPs play a major role in cartilage breakdown in the rheumatoid joint and are produced locally by several cell types under strict control by regulatory factors. As 1α,25(OH)2D3 modulates the production of specific MMPs and is produced within the rheumatoid joint, the present study investigates its effects on MMP and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) production in two cell types known to express chondrolytic enzymes.
Aims:
To investigate VDR expression in rheumatoid tissues and to examine the effects of 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 on cultured rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts (RSFs) and human articular chondrocytes (HACs) with respect to MMP and PGE2 production.
Methods:
Rheumatoid synovial tissues were obtained from arthroplasty procedures on patients with late-stage rheumatoid arthritis; normal articular cartilage was obtained from lower limb amputations. Samples were embedded in paraffin, and examined for presence of VDRs by immunolocalisation using a biotinylated antibody and alkaline-phosphatase-conjugated avidin-biotin complex system. Cultured synovial fibroblasts and chondrocytes were treated with either 1α,25(OH)2D3, or interleukin (IL)-1β or both. Conditioned medium was assayed for MMP and PGE2 by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and the results were normalised relative to control values.
Results:
The rheumatoid synovial tissue specimens (n = 18) immunostained for VDRs showed positive staining but at variable distributions and in no observable pattern. VDR-positive cells were also observed in association with some cartilage-pannus junctions (the rheumatoid lesion). MMP production by RSFs in monolayer culture was not affected by treatment with 1α,25(OH)2D3 alone, but when added simultaneously with IL-1β the stimulation by IL-1β was reduced from expected levels by up to 50%. In contrast, 1α,25(OH)2D3 had a slight stimulatory effect on basal production of MMPs 1 and 3 by monolayer cultures of HACs, but stimulation of MMP-1 by IL-1β was not affected by the simultaneous addition of 1α,25(OH)2D3 whilst MMP-3 production was enhanced (Table 1). The production of PGE2 by RSFs was unaffected by 1α,25(OH)2D3 addition, but when added concomitantly with IL-1β the expected IL-1 β-stimulated increase was reduced to almost basal levels. In contrast, IL-1β stimulation of PGE2 in HACs was not affected by the simultaneous addition of 1α,25(OH)2D3 (Table 2). Pretreatment of RSFs with 1α,25(OH)2D3 for 1 h made no significant difference to IL-1β-induced stimulation of PGE2, but incubation for 16 h suppressed the expected increase in PGE2 to control values. This effect was also noted when 1α,25(OH)2D3 was removed after the 16h and the IL-1 added alone. Thus it appears that 1α,25(OH)2D3 does not interfere with the IL-1β receptor, but reduces the capacity of RSFs to elaborate PGE2 after IL-1β induction.
Discussion:
Cells within the rheumatoid lesion which expressed VDR were fibroblasts, macrophages, lymphocytes and endothelial cells. These cells are thought to be involved in the degradative processes associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), thus providing evidence of a functional role of 1α,25(OH)2D3 in RA. MMPs may play important roles in the chondrolytic processes of the rheumatoid lesion and are known to be produced by both fibroblasts and chondrocytes. The 1α,25(OH)2D3 had little effect on basal MMP production by RSFs, although more pronounced differences were noted when IL-1β-stimulated cells were treated with 1α,25(OH)2D3, with the RSF and HAC showing quite disparate responses. These opposite effects may be relevant to the processes of joint destruction, especially cartilage loss, as the ability of 1α,25(OH)2D3 to potentiate MMP-1 and MMP-3 expression by 'activated' chondrocytes might facilitate intrinsic cartilage chondrolysis in vivo. By contrast, the MMP-suppressive effects observed for 1α,25(OH)2D3 treatment of 'activated' synovial fibroblasts might reduce extrinsic chondrolysis and also matrix degradation within the synovial tissue. Prostaglandins have a role in the immune response and inflammatory processes associated with RA. The 1α,25(OH)2D3 had little effect on basal PGE2 production by RSF, but the enhanced PGE2 production observed following IL-1β stimulation of these cells was markedly suppressed by the concomitant addition of 1α,25(OH)2D3. As with MMP production, there are disparate effects of 1α,25(OH)2D3 on IL-1β stimulated PGE2 production by the two cell types; 1α,25(OH)2D3 added concomitantly with IL-1β had no effect on PGE2 production by HACs. In summary, the presence of VDRs in the rheumatoid lesion demonstrates that 1α,25(OH)2D3 may have a functional role in the joint disease process. 1α,25(OH)2D3 does not appear to directly affect MMP or PGE2 production but does modulate cytokine-induced production.
Comparative effects of 1 α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1 α,25D3) on interleukin (IL)-1-stimulated matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-1 and MMP-3 production by rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts and human articular chondrocytes in vivo
Data given are normalized relative to control values and are expressed ± SEM for three cultures of each cell type.
Comparative effects of 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1α,25D3) on Interleukin (IL)-1-stimulated prostaglandin E2 production by rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts and human articular chondrocyte in vivo
Data given are normalized relative to control values and are expressed ± SEM for three cultures of each cell type.
PMCID: PMC17774  PMID: 11056661
1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3; matrix metalloproteinase; prostaglandin E2; rheumatoid arthritis
4.  In vivo model of cartilage degradation--effects of a matrix metalloproteinase inhibitor. 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1995;54(8):662-669.
OBJECTIVES--To develop a model of cartilage degradation that (i) enables the testing of synthetic, small molecular weight matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) inhibitors as agents to prevent cartilage erosion, (ii) permits the direct assay of the principal constituents of the extracellular matrix (collagen and proteoglycan) in both the non-calcified articular cartilage and the calcified cartilage compartments, and (iii) is mediated by a chronic, granulomatous tissue that closely apposes intact articular cartilage, and in this respect resembles the pannus-cartilage junction of rheumatoid arthritis. METHODS--Femoral head cartilage was obtained from donor rats, wrapped in cotton and implanted subcutaneously into recipient animals. After a two stage papain digestion procedure, the proteoglycan and collagen contents were measured by assaying for glycosaminoglycans and hydroxyproline, respectively, in both the non-calcified cartilage that comprises the articular surface layer and the calcified cartilage compartment. The incorporation in vitro of [35S]-sulphate into glycosaminoglycans was assayed as a measure of proteoglycan biosynthesis. An osmotic minipump was cannulated to the implanted femoral head cartilage and synthetic MMP inhibitors (MI-1 and MI-2) were infused continuously over a 14 day period. RESULTS--The implanted, cotton wrapped femoral head cartilages provoked a granulomatous response that resulted in the removal of collagen and proteoglycan from the cartilage matrix. The removal of proteoglycan and collagen was exclusively from the non-calcified articular cartilage, whereas the proteoglycan and collagen content of the calcified compartment increased during the experiments. MI-1 reproducibly reduced the degradation of proteoglycan and collagen in implanted femoral head cartilage. CONCLUSIONS--We have described an in vivo model of cartilage degradation that permits the measurement of proteoglycan and collagen in both non-calcified articular cartilage and calcified cartilage compartments. The model can be used to test the effects of agents of unknown systemic bioavailability and pharmacokinetic profile by infusing them directly to the site of cartilage degradation. The removal of cartilage extracellular matrix by granulomatous tissue was inhibited by an MMP inhibitor, thus proving the involvement of this family of proteinases in cartilage catabolism in this model.
PMCID: PMC1009964  PMID: 7677443
5.  The Arthritis Severity Locus Cia5d Is a Novel Genetic Regulator of the Invasive Properties of Synovial Fibroblasts 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2008;58(8):2296-2306.
Objective
The synovial fibroblast, or fibroblast-like synoviocyte (FLS), has a central role in pannus invasion and destruction of cartilage and bone in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, regulation of the FLS remains incompletely understood. The aim of this study was to determine whether the invasive properties of FLS are genetically regulated by arthritis severity loci.
Methods
DA rats (arthritis susceptible) and rat strains congenic for arthritis-protective intervals were studied. Primary FLS cell lines were generated from each strain and used in a well-established FLS invasion model through a collagen-rich barrier. Cells or culture supernatants were analyzed for gene expression, activity of different matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), cytoskeleton integrity, and cell proliferation.
Results
The median number of FLS from DA.F344(Cia5d) rats that invaded through the collagen-rich barrier was reduced 86.5% compared with the median number of invading FLS from DA rats. Histologic examination showed that DA.F344(Cia5d) rats preserved a normal joint without pannus, hyperplasia, or erosions. FLS from DA.F344(Cia5d) rats produced significantly lower levels of active MMP-2 compared with FLS from DA rats, but the levels of proMMP-2 and MMP-2 messenger RNA in DA.F344(Cia5d) rats were similar to those in DA rats. Treatment of FLS from DA rats with an MMP-2 inhibitor reduced cell invasion to a level similar to that in DA.F344(Cia5d) rats, demonstrating that MMP-2 activity accounted for the difference between FLS from these 2 strains. Analysis of MMP-2–activating pathways revealed increased levels of soluble membrane type 1 (MT1)–MMP in DA rats compared with DA.F344(Cia5d) rats.
Conclusion
These data represent the first evidence for a genetic component in the regulation of FLS invasion. A gene located within the Cia5d interval accounts for this effect and operates via the regulation of soluble MT1-MMP production and MMP-2 activation. These observations suggest novel potential pathways for prognostication and therapy.
doi:10.1002/art.23610
PMCID: PMC2714698  PMID: 18668563
6.  Activation of synovial fibroblasts in rheumatoid arthritis: lack of expression of the tumour suppressor PTEN at sites of invasive growth and destruction 
Arthritis Research  1999;2(1):59-64.
In the present study, we searched for mutant PTEN transcripts in aggressive rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts (RA-SF) and studied the expression of PTEN in RA. By automated sequencing, no evidence for the presence of mutant PTEN transcripts was found. However, in situ hybridization on RA synovium revealed a distinct expression pattern of PTEN, with negligible staining in the lining layer but abundant expression in the sublining. Normal synovial tissue exhibited homogeneous staining for PTEN. In cultured RA-SF, only 40% expressed PTEN. Co-implantation of RA-SF and normal human cartilage into severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mice showed only limited expression of PTEN, with no staining in those cells aggressively invading the cartilage. Although PTEN is not genetically altered in RA, these findings suggest that a lack of PTEN expression may constitute a characteristic feature of activated RA-SF in the lining, and may thereby contribute to the invasive behaviour of RA-SF by maintaining their aggressive phenotype at sites of cartilage destruction.
Aims:
PTEN is a novel tumour suppressor which exhibits tyrosine phosphatase activity as well as homology to the cytoskeletal proteins tensin and auxilin. Mutations of PTEN have been described in several human cancers and associated with their invasiveness and metastatic properties. Although not malignant, rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts (RA-SF) exhibit certain tumour-like features such as attachment to cartilage and invasive growth. In the present study, we analyzed whether mutant transcripts of PTEN were present in RA-SF. In addition, we used in situ hybridization to study the expression of PTEN messenger (m)RNA in tissue samples of RA and normal individuals as well as in cultured RA-SF and in the severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mouse model of RA.
Methods:
Synovial tissue specimens were obtained from seven patients with RA and from two nonarthritic individuals. Total RNA was isolated from synovial fibroblasts and after first strand complementary (c)DNA synthesis, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was performed to amplify a 1063 base pair PTEN fragment that encompassed the coding sequence of PTEN including the phosphatase domain and all mutation sites described so far. The PCR products were subcloned in Escherichia coli, and up to four clones were picked from each plate for automated sequencing. For in situ hybridization, digoxigenin-labelled PTEN-specific RNA probes were generated by in vitro transcription. For control in situ hybridization, a matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2-specific probe was prepared. To investigate the expression of PTEN in the absence of human macrophage or lymphocyte derived factors, we implanted RA-SF from three patients together with normal human cartilage under the renal capsule of SCID mice. After 60 days, mice were sacrificed, the implants removed and embedded into paraffin.
Results:
PCR revealed the presence of the expected 1063 base pair PTEN fragment in all (9/9) cell cultures (Fig. 1). No additional bands that could account for mutant PTEN variants were detected. Sequence analysis revealed 100% homology of all RA-derived PTEN fragments to those from normal SF as well as to the published GenBank sequence (accession number U93051). However, in situ hybridization demonstrated considerable differences in the expression of PTEN mRNA within the lining and the sublining layers of RA synovial membranes. As shown in Figure 2a, no staining was observed within the lining layer which has been demonstrated to mediate degradation of cartilage and bone in RA. In contrast, abundant expression of PTEN mRNA was found in the sublining of all RA synovial tissues (Figs 2a and b). Normal synovial specimens showed homogeneous staining for PTEN within the thin synovial membrane (Fig. 2c). In situ hybridization using the sense probe gave no specific staining (Fig. 2d). We also performed in situ hybridization on four of the seven cultured RA-SF and followed one cell line from the first to the sixth passage. Interestingly, only 40% of cultured RA-SF expressed PTEN mRNA (Fig. 3a), and the proportion of PTEN expressing cells did not change throughout the passages. In contrast, control experiments using a specific RNA probe for MMP-2 revealed mRNA expression by nearly all cultured cells (Fig. 3b). As seen before, implantation of RA-SF into the SCID mice showed considerable cartilage degradation. Interestingly, only negligible PTEN expression was found in those RA-SF aggressively invading the cartilage (Fig. 3c). In situ hybridization for MMP-2 showed abundant staining in these cells (Fig. 3d).
Discussion:
Although this study found no evidence for mutations of PTEN in RA synovium, the observation that PTEN expression is lacking in the lining layer of RA synovium as well as in more than half of cultured RA-SF is of interest. It suggests that loss of PTEN function may not exclusively be caused by genetic alterations, yet at the same time links the low expression of PTEN to a phenotype of cells that have been shown to invade cartilage aggressively.
It has been proposed that the tyrosine phosphatase activity of PTEN is responsible for its tumour suppressor activity by counteracting the actions of protein tyrosine kinases. As some studies have demonstrated an upregulation of tyrosine kinase activity in RA synovial cells, it might be speculated that the lack of PTEN expression in aggressive RA-SF contributes to the imbalance of tyrosine kinases and phosphatases in this disease. However, the extensive amino-terminal homology of the predicted protein to the cytoskeletal proteins tensin and auxilin suggests a complex regulatory function involving cellular adhesion molecules and phosphatase-mediated signalling. The tyrosine phosphatase TEP1 has been shown to be identical to the protein encoded by PTEN, and gene transcription of TEP1 has been demonstrated to be downregulated by transforming growth factor (TGF)-β. Therefore, it could be hypothesized that TGF-β might be responsible for the downregulation of PTEN. However, the expression of TGF-β is not restricted to the lining but found throughout the synovial tissue in RA. Moreover, in our study the percentage of PTEN expressing RA-SF remained stable for six passages in culture, whereas molecules that are cytokine-regulated in vivo frequently change their expression levels when cultured over several passages. Also, cultured RA-SF that were implanted into SCID mice and deeply invaded the cartilage did not show significant expression of PTEN after 60 days. The drop in the percentage of PTEN expressing cells from the original cell cultures to the SCID mouse implants is of interest as this observation goes along with data from previous studies that have shown the prominent expression of activation-related molecules in the SCID mice implants that in vivo are found predominantly in the lining layer. Therefore, our data point to endogenous mechanisms rather than to the influence of exogenous human cytokines or factors in the downregulation of PTEN. Low expression of PTEN may belong to the features that distinguish between the activated phenotype of RA-SF and the sublining, proliferating but nondestructive cells.
PMCID: PMC17804  PMID: 11219390
rheumatoid arthritis; synovial membrane; fibroblasts; PTEN tumour suppressor; severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mouse model; cartilage destruction; in situ hybridization
7.  Enhanced expression of genes involved in coagulation and fibrinolysis in murine arthritis 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(6):504-512.
We have analyzed the pattern of procoagulant and fibrinolytic gene expression in affected joints during the course of arthritis in two murine models. In both models, we found an increased expression of tissue factor, tissue factor pathway inhibitor, urokinase plasminogen activator, and plasminogen activator inhibitor 1, as well as thrombin receptor. The observed pattern of gene expression tended to favor procoagulant activity, and this pattern was confirmed by functional assays. These alterations would account for persistence of fibrin within the inflamed joint, as is seen in rheumatoid arthritis.
Introduction:
Accumulation of fibrin in the joints remains one of the most striking histopathological features of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Recently, we have provided evidence of the deleterious role of synovial fibrin deposition in arthritic joints in antigen-induced arthritis (AIA), a well-established murine model of RA.
A local imbalance between fibrin formation and fibrin dissolution may result in fibrin deposition in the joints.
On the one hand, fibrin formation is mainly initiated by tissue factor (TF), a transmembrane protein serving as a receptor for factor VII. Under normal conditions, TF expression and activity are tightly regulated. Constitutive TF expression is restricted to perivascular and epithelial cells, and the catalytic activity of the TF/VIIa complex can be inhibited by tissue factor pathway inhibitor (TFPI). Pathological conditions can perturb the cell-type-restricted pattern of TF expression. In particular, recent reports have shown that transcriptional activation of TF can be mediated by molecular mechanisms involving induction of the early growth response gene 1 (EGR1) or of the protease-activated receptor (PAR1) or vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) genes.
On the other hand, fibrin degradation is mediated primarily by plasmin, which is the active form of the zymogen plasminogen. Conversion of plasminogen to plasmin is under the control of serine protease plasminogen activators, such as the urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA), and their inhibitors, such as the plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI-1).
Aims:
We hypothesized that the deposition of fibrin in the joints may result from an imbalance in the local expression of key genes involved in coagulation and fibrinolytic pathways. To test this hypothesis, we investigated mRNA levels in arthritic versus nonarthritic joint tissues from two murine models of RA: AIA and collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). Genes that are directly implicated in coagulation (TF, TFPI) and fibrinolysis (UPA, PAI1), and other genes that may influence the expression of TF (EGR1, PAR1, VEGF), were investigated using a novel multiprobe RNase protection assay (RPA). Furthermore, we evaluated coagulation activity in arthritic and nonarthritic mice.
Methods:
Mice with AIA or CIA were sacrificed at different time points: 2, 4, and 16 h and 3, 7, and 14 d after intra-articular antigen injection for AIA; 42 d after the first immunization for CIA. Total RNA was prepared from arthritic and nonarthritic knees for AIA, or arthritic and nonarthritic hind paws for CIA. Messenger RNA (mRNA) levels of the genes described above were determined by RPA and normalized to glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) mRNA levels. Coagulation assays were performed on joint tissue extracts and concentrations of thrombin-antithrombin III (TAT) complex were measured in plasma.
Results:
In AIA, all the genes studied except VEGF were upmodulated as early as 2 h. PAR1, TFPI, EGR1, and UPA expression decreased to control levels by 16 h, whereas the expression of TF and PAI1 remained elevated. At later times, only TF, PAI1, and UPA showed sustained overexpression. In CIA, gene expression was assayed at only one time point (42 d after immunization) and all genes showed higher mRNA levels in the affected paws than in control paws. In AIA mice, procoagulant activity and TF activity were significantly increased in arthritic joints, and in CIA mice, plasma TAT levels were significantly enhanced.
Discussion:
Fibrin deposition in synovia is prominent in both RA and experimental arthritis, suggesting that this protein may play a role in the pathogenesis of chronic inflammation. In this study, we have tried to shed some light on the molecular mechanisms leading to extravascular fibrin deposition, using two well-established mouse models of RA: AIA and CIA. The kinetics of gene expression was first analyzed in mice with AIA, because this model allows for an accurate, temporally controlled sampling of synovial inflammation. We then extended our observations by analyzing one time point in CIA, 42 d after immunization, when chronic inflammation is present. We found that in both models, coagulation and fibrinolysis in arthritic joints were significantly increased, and that the most significant increases were in TF and PAI-1.
Although the molecular mechanism or mechanisms responsible for the transcriptional changes observed are not completely understood, the increases in TF, PAI-1, and uPA are probably due to the production of proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-1 and TGF-α. These cytokines, whose presence in the inflamed synovium is well documented, are known to induce these genes through the activation of nuclear factor κB (NF-κB), a transcription factor. TF induction is also under the control of a proximal enhancer containing a binding site for the inducible transcription factor EGR1. Indeed, the early rise of EGR1 expression in AIA is consistent with its classification as immediate-early gene and may be responsible for the induction of early expression of TF. Early TF stimulation in AIA can also be accounted for by the transient overexpression of PAR1. Contrary to what has been shown in RA, VEGF expression remained essentially unchanged throughout the progression of AIA, probably reflecting a peculiarity of this murine model.
The alteration of the patterns of gene expression was accompanied by increased functional coagulation activity, which was more marked in AIA than in CIA.
Conclusion:
Prominent fibrin deposition in two different animal models of RA – AIA and CIA – can be attributed to modulations in key regulatory genes for coagulation and fibrinolysis.
PMCID: PMC17822  PMID: 11056680
arthritis; coagulation; fibrinolysis; mice; RNase protection
8.  Monoarticular antigen-induced arthritis leads to pronounced bilateral upregulation of the expression of neurokinin 1 and bradykinin 2 receptors in dorsal root ganglion neurons of rats 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(5):424-427.
This study describes the upregulation of neurokinin 1 and bradykinin 2 receptors in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons in the course of antigen-induced arthritis (AIA) in the rat knee. In the acute phase of AIA, which was characterized by pronounced hyperalgesia, there was a substantial bilateral increase in the proportion of lumbar DRG neurons that express neurokinin 1 receptors (activated by substance P) and bradykinin 2 receptors. In the chronic phase the upregulation of bradykinin 2 receptors persisted on the side of inflammation. The increase in the receptor expression is relevant for the generation of acute and chronic inflammatory pain.
Introduction:
Ongoing pain and hyperalgesia (enhanced pain response to stimulation of the tissue) are major symptoms of arthritis. Arthritic pain results from the activation and sensitization of primary afferent nociceptive nerve fibres ('pain fibres') supplying the tissue (peripheral sensitization) and from the activation and sensitization of nociceptive neurons in the central nervous system (central sensitization). After sensitization, nociceptive neurons respond more strongly to mechanical and thermal stimulation of the tissue, and their activation threshold is lowered. The activation and sensitization of primary afferent fibres results from the action of inflammatory mediators such as bradykinin (BK), prostaglandins and others on membrane receptors located on these neurons. BK is a potent pain-producing substance that is contained in inflammatory exudates. Up to 50% of the primary afferent nerve fibres have receptors for BK. When primary afferent nerve fibres are activated they can release neuropeptides such as substance P (SP) and calcitonin gene-related peptide from their sensory endings in the tissue. SP contributes to the inflammatory changes in the innervated tissue (neurogenic inflammation), and it might also support the sensitization of nociceptive nerve fibres by binding to neurokinin 1 (NK1) receptors. NK1 receptors are normally expressed on a small proportion of the primary afferent nerve fibres.
Aims:
Because the expression of receptors on the primary afferent neurons is essential for the pain-producing action of inflammatory mediators and neuropeptides, we investigated in the present study whether the expression of BK and NK1 receptors on primary afferent neurons is altered during the acute and chronic phases of an antigen-induced arthritis (AIA). AIA resembles in many aspects the inflammatory process of human rheumatoid arthritis. Because peptide receptors are expressed not only in the terminals of the primary afferent units but also in the cell bodies, we removed dorsal root ganglia (DRGs) of both sides from control rats and from rats with the acute or chronic phase of AIA and determined, after short-term culture of the neurons, the proportion of DRG neurons that expressed the receptors in the different phases of AIA. We also characterized the inflammatory process and the nociceptive behaviour of the rats in the course of AIA.
Materials and methods:
In 33 female Lewis rats 10 weeks old, AIA was induced in the right knee joint. First the rats were immunized in two steps with methylated bovine serum albumin (m-BSA) emulsified with Freund's complete adjuvant, and heat-inactivated Bordetella pertussis. After immunization, m-BSA was injected into the right knee joint cavity to induce arthritis. The joint swelling was measured at regular intervals. Nociceptive (pain) responses to mechanical stimulation of the injected and the contralateral knee were monitored in the course of AIA. Groups of rats were killed at different time points after the induction of AIA, and inflammation and destruction in the knee joint were graded by histological examination. The DRGs of both sides were dissected from segments L1–L5 and C1–C7 from arthritic rats, from eight immunized rats without arthritis and from ten normal control rats. Excised DRGs were dissociated into single cells which were cultured for 18 h.
The expression of the receptors was determined by assessment of the binding of SP-gold or BK-gold to the cultured neurons. For this purpose the cells were slightly fixed. Binding of SP-gold or BK-gold was detected by using enhancement with silver and subsequent densitometric analysis of the relative grey values of the neurons. Displacement controls were performed with SP, the specific NK1 receptor agonist [Sar9, Met(O2)11]-SP, BK, the specific BK 1 (B1) receptor agonist D-Arg (Hyp3-Thi5,8-D-Phe7)-BK and the specific BK 2 (B2) receptor agonist (Des-Arg10)-Lys-BK.
Results:
The inflammatory process in the injected right knee joint started on the first day after induction of AIA and persisted throughout the observation period of 84 days (Fig. 1). The initial phase of AIA was characterized by strong joint swelling and a predominantly granulocytic infiltration of the synovial membrane and the joint cavity (acute inflammatory changes). In the later phases of AIA (10–84 days after induction of AIA) the joint showed persistent swelling, and signs of chronic arthritic alterations such as infiltration of mononuclear leucocytes, hyperplasia of synovial lining layer (pannus formation) and erosions of cartilage and bone were predominant. The contralateral knee joints appeared normal at all time points. Destruction was observed only in the injected knee but some proteoglycan loss was also noted in the non-injected, contralateral knee. In the acute and initial chronic phases of AIA (1–29 days) the rats showed mechanical hyperalgesia in the inflamed knee (limping, withdrawal response to gentle pressure onto the knee). In the acute phase (up to 9 days) a pain response was also seen when gentle pressure was applied to the contralateral knee.
Figure 2 displays the changes in the receptor expression in the DRG neurons during AIA. The expression of SP–gold-binding sites in lumbar DRG neurons (Fig. 2a) was substantially increased in the acute phase of arthritis. In untreated control rats (n = 5), 7.7 ± 3.8% of the DRG neurons from the right side and 10.0 ± 1.7% of the DRG neurons from the left side showed labelling with SP–gold. The proportion of SP–gold-labelled neurons in immunized animals without knee injection (n = 3) was similar. By contrast, at days 1 (n = 2 rats) and 3 (n = 5 rats) of AIA in the right knee, approximately 50% of the DRG neurons exhibited labelling with SP–gold, and this was seen both on the side of the injected knee and on the opposite side. At day 10 of AIA (n = 3 rats), 26.3 ± 6.1% of the ipsilateral DRG neurons but only 15.7 ± 0.6% of the contralateral neurons exhibited binding of SP–gold. At days 21 (n = 5 rats), 42 (n = 3 rats) and 84 (n = 5 rats) of AIA, the proportion of SP–gold-positive neurons had returned to the control values, although the arthritis, now with signs of chronic inflammation, was still present. Compared with the DRG neurons of the untreated control rats, the increase in the proportion of labelled neurons was significant on both sides in the acute phase (days 1 and 3) and the intermediate phase (day 10) of AIA (Mann–Whitney U-test). The size distribution of the neurons was similar in the DRG neurons of all experimental groups. Under all conditions and at all time points, SP–gold binding was found mainly in small and medium-sized (less than 700 μm2) neurons. In the cervical DRGs the expression of NK1 receptors did not change in the course of AIA. The binding of SP–gold to the neurons was suppressed by the coadministration of the specific NK1 receptor agonist [Sar9, Met(O2)11]–SP in three experiments, showing that SP–gold was bound to NK1 receptors.
The expression of BK–gold-binding sites in the lumbar DRG neurons showed also changes in the course of AIA, but the pattern was different (Fig. 2b). In untreated control rats (n = 5), 42.3 ± 3.1% of the DRG neurons of the right side and 39.6 ± 2.6% of the DRG neurons of the left side showed binding of BK–gold. At days 1 (n = 2 rats) and 3 (n = 5 rats) of AIA, approximately 80% of the DRG neurons on the side of the knee injection (ipsilateral) and approximately 70% on the opposite side were labelled. In comparison with the untreated control group, the increase in the proportion of labelled neurons was significant on both sides. The proportion of labelled neurons in the ipsilateral DRGs remained significantly increased in both the intermediate phase (day 10, n = 3 rats) and chronic phase (days 21, n = 5 rats, and 42, n = 3 rats) of inflammation. At 84 days after the induction of AIA (n = 5 rats), 51.0 ± 12.7% of the neurons showed an expression of BK–gold-binding sites and this was close to the prearthritic values. However, in the contralateral DRG of the same animals the proportion of BK–gold-labelled neurons declined in the intermediate phase (day 10) and chronic phase (days 21–84) of AIA and was not significantly different from the control value. Thus the increase in BK–gold-labelled neurons was persistent on the side where the inflammation had been induced, and transient on the opposite side. The size distribution of the DRG neurons of the different experimental groups was similar. In the cervical DRGs the expression of BK receptors did not change in the course of AIA. In another series of experiments, we determined the subtype(s) of BK receptor(s) that were expressed in DRGs L1–L5 in different experimental groups. In neither untreated control animals (n = 5) nor immunized rats without knee injection (n = 5) nor in rats at 3 days (n = 5) and 42 days (n = 5) of AIA was the binding of BK–gold decreased by the coadministration of BK–gold and the B1 agonist. By contrast, in these experimental groups the binding of BK–gold was suppressed by the coadministration of the B2 agonist. These results show that B2 receptors, but not B1 receptors, were expressed in both normal animals and in animals with AIA.
Discussion:
These results show that in AIA in the rat the expression of SP-binding and BK-binding sites in the perikarya of DRGs L1–L5 is markedly upregulated in the course of knee inflammation. Although the inflammation was induced on one side only, the initial changes in the binding sites were found in the lumbar DRGs of both sides. No upregulation of SP-binding or BK-binding sites was observed in the cervical DRGs. The expression of SP-binding sites was upregulated only in the first days of AIA, that is, in the acute phase, in which the pain responses to mechanical stimulation were most pronounced. By contrast, the upregulation of BK-binding sites on the side of AIA persisted for up to 42 days, that is, in the acute and chronic phase of AIA. Only the B2 receptor, not the B1 receptor, was upregulated. The coincidence of the enhanced expression of NK1 and BK receptors on sensory neurons and the pain behaviour suggests that the upregulation of these receptors is relevant for the generation and maintenance of arthritic pain.
In the acute phase of AIA, approximately 50% of the lumbar DRG neurons showed an expression of SP-binding sites. Because peptide receptors are transported to the periphery, the marked upregulation of SP-binding receptors probably leads to an enhanced density of receptors in the sensory endings of the primary afferent units. This will permit SP to sensitize more neurons under inflammatory conditions than under normal conditions. However, the expression of NK1 receptors was upregulated only in the acute phase of inflammation, suggesting that SP and NK1 receptors are less important for the generation of hyperalgesia in the chronic phase of AIA.
Because BK is one of the most potent algesic compounds, the functional consequence of the upregulation of BK receptors is likely to be of immediate importance for the generation and maintenance of inflammatory pain. The persistence of the upregulation of BK receptors on the side of inflammation suggests that BK receptors should be an interesting target for pain treatment in the acute and chronic phases. Only B2 receptors were identified in normal animals and in rats with AIA. This is surprising because previous pharmacological studies have provided evidence that, during inflammation, B1 receptors can be newly expressed.
Receptor upregulation in the acute phase of AIA was bilateral and almost symmetrical. However, hyperalgesia was much more pronounced on the inflamed side. It is most likely that receptors on the contralateral side were not readily activated because in the absence of gross inflammation the local concentration of the ligands BK and SP was probably quite low. We hypothesize that the bilateral changes in receptor expression are generated at least in part by mechanisms involving the nervous system. Symmetrical segmental changes can be produced only by the symmetrical innervation, involving either the sympathetic nervous system or the primary afferent fibres. Under inflammatory conditions, primary afferent fibres can be antidromically activated bilaterally in the entry zone of afferent fibres in the spinal cord, and it was proposed that this antidromic activation might release neuropeptides and thus contribute to neurogenic inflammation. Because both sympathetic efferent fibres and primary afferent nerve fibres can aggravate inflammatory symptoms, it is also conceivable that they are involved in the regulation of receptor expression in primary afferent neurons. A neurogenic mechanism might also have been responsible for the bilateral degradation of articular cartilage in the present study.
PMCID: PMC17819  PMID: 11056677
antigen-induced arthritis; bradykinin receptor; dorsal root ganglion neurons; neurokinin 1 receptor; pain
9.  Active synovial matrix metalloproteinase-2 is associated with radiographic erosions in patients with early synovitis 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(2):145-153.
Serum and synovial tissue expression of the matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 and -9 and their molecular regulators, MMP-14 and TIMP-2 was examined in 28 patients with inflammatory early synovitis and 4 healthy volunteers and correlated with the presence of erosions in the patients. Immunohistological staining of MMP-2, MMP-14 and TIMP-2 localized to corresponding areas in the synovial lining layer and was almost absent in normal synovium. Patients with radiographic erosions had significantly higher levels of active MMP-2 than patients with no erosions, suggesting that activated MMP-2 levels in synovial tissue may be a marker for a more aggressive synovial lesion.
Introduction:
In cancer the gelatinases [matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 and MMP-9] have been shown to be associated with tissue invasion and metastatic disease. In patients with inflammatory arthritis the gelatinases are expressed in the synovial membrane, and have been implicated in synovial tissue invasion into adjacent cartilage and bone. It is hypothesized that an imbalance between the activators and inhibitors of the gelatinases results in higher levels of activity, enhanced local proteolysis, and bone erosion.
Objectives:
To determine whether the expression and activity levels of MMP-2 and MMP-9, and their regulators MMP-14 and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase (TIMP), are associated with early erosion formation in patients with synovitis of recent onset.
Patients and method:
A subset of 66 patients was selected from a larger early synovitis cohort on the basis of tissue availability for the study of synovial tissue and serum gelatinase expression. Patients with peripheral joint synovitis of less than 1 years' duration were evaluated clinically and serologically on four visits over a period of 12 months. At the initial visit, patients underwent a synovial tissue biopsy of one swollen joint, and patients had radiographic evaluation of hands and feet initially and at 1year. Serum MMP-1, MMP-2, MMP-9, MMP-14, and TIMP-1 and TIMP-2 levels were determined, and synovial tissue was examined by immunohistology for the expression of MMP-2 and MMP-9, and their molecular regulators. Gelatinolytic activity for MMP-2 and MMP-9 was quantified using a sensitive, tissue-based gel zymography technique. Four healthy individuals underwent closed synovial biopsy and their synovial tissues were similarly analyzed.
Results:
Of the 66 patients studied, 45 fulfilled American College of Rheumatology criteria for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), with 32 (71%) being rheumatoid factor positive. Of the 21 non-RA patients, seven had a spondylarthropathy and 14 had undifferentiated arthritis. Radiographically, 12 of the RA patients had erosions at multiple sites by 1 year, whereas none of the non-RA patients had developed erosive disease of this extent. In the tissue, latent MMP-2 was widely expressed in the synovial lining layer and in areas of stromal proliferation in the sublining layer and stroma, whereas MMP-9 was expressed more sparsely and focally. MMP-14, TIMP-2, and MMP-2 were all detected in similar areas of the lining layer on consecutive histologic sections. Tissue expression of MMP-14, the activator for pro-MMP-2, was significantly higher in RA than in non-RA patients (8.4 ± 5 versus 3.7 ± 4 cells/high-power field; P = 0.009). In contrast, the expression of TIMP-2, an inhibitor of MMP-2, was lower in the RA than in the non-RA samples (25 ± 12 versus 39 ± 9 cells/high-power field; P = 0.01). Synovial tissue expressions of MMP-2, MMP-14, and TIMP-2 were virtually undetectable in normal synovial tissue samples. The synovial tissue samples of patients with erosive disease had significantly higher levels of active MMP-2 than did those of patients without erosions (Fig. 1). Tissue expression of MMP-2 and MMP-9, however, did not correlate with the serum levels of these enzymes.
With the exception of serum MMP-2, which was not elevated over normal, serum levels of all of the other MMPs and TIMPs were elevated to varying degrees, and were not predictive of erosive disease. Interestingly, MMP-1 and C-reactive protein, both of which were associated with the presence of erosions, were positively correlated with each other (r = 0.42; P < 0.001).
Discussion:
MMP-2 and MMP-9 are thought to play an important role in the evolution of joint erosions in patients with an inflammatory arthritis. Most studies have concentrated on the contribution of MMP-9 to the synovitis, because synovial fluid and serum MMP-9 levels are markedly increased in inflammatory arthropathies. Previously reported serum levels of MMP-9 have varied widely. In the present sample of patients with synovitis of recent onset, serum MMP-9 levels were elevated in only 21%. Moreover, these elevations were not specific for RA, the tissue expression of MMP-9 was focal, and the levels of MMP-9 activity were not well correlated with early erosions. Although serum MMP-2 levels were not of prognostic value, high synovial tissue levels of MMP-2 activity were significantly correlated with the presence of early erosions. This may reflect augmented activation of MMP-2 by the relatively high levels of MMP-14 and low levels of TIMP-2 seen in these tissues. We were able to localize the components of this trimolecular complex to the synovial lining layer in consecutive tissue sections, a finding that is consistent with their colocalization.
In conclusion, we have provided evidence that active MMP-2 complexes are detectable in the inflamed RA synovium and may be involved in the development of early bony erosions. These results suggest that strategies to inhibit the activation of MMP-2 may have the potential for retarding or preventing early erosions in patients with inflammatory arthritis.
PMCID: PMC17808  PMID: 11062605
early synovitis; erosion; metalloproteinase; matrix metalloproteinase-2; rheumatoid arthritis
10.  Gene therapy for established murine collagen-induced arthritis by local and systemic adenovirus-mediated delivery of interleukin-4 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(4):293-302.
To determine whether IL-4 is therapeutic in treating established experimental arthritis, a recombinant adenovirus carrying the gene that encodes murine IL-4 (Ad-mIL-4) was used for periarticular injection into the ankle joints into mice with established collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). Periarticular injection of Ad-mIL-4 resulted in a reduction in the severity of arthritis and joint swelling compared with saline- and adenoviral control groups. Local expression of IL-4 also reduced macroscopic signs of joint inflammation and bone erosion. Moreover, injection of Ad-mIL-4 into the hind ankle joints resulted in a decrease in disease severity in the untreated front paws. Systemic delivery of murine IL-4 by intravenous injection of Ad-mIL-4 resulted in a significant reduction in the severity of early-stage arthritis.
Introduction:
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic systemic autoimmune disease that is characterized by joint inflammation, and progressive cartilage and bone erosion. Recent research has identified certain biologic agents that appear more able than conventional therapies to halt effectively the progression of disease, as well as ameliorate disease symptoms. One potential problem with the use of biologic agents for arthritis therapy is the need for daily or weekly repeat dosing. The transfer of genes directly to the synovial lining can theoretically circumvent the need for repeat dosing and reduce potential systemic side effects [1,2]. However, although many genes have been effective in treating murine CIA if administrated at a time before disease onset, local intra-articular or periarticular gene transfer has not been highly effective in halting the progression of established disease. IL-4, similar to tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and IL-1 inhibitors, has been shown be therapeutic for the treatment of murine CIA when administered intravenously as a recombinant protein, either alone or in combination with IL-10. IL-4 can downregulate the production of proinflammatory and T-helper (Th)1-type cytokines by inducing mRNA degradation and upregulating the expression of inhibitors of proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) [3,4]. IL-4 is able to inhibit IL-2 and IFN-γ production by Th1 cells, resulting in suppression of macrophage activation and the production of the proinflammatory cytokines IL-1, IL-6, IL-8, and TNF-α by monocytes and macrophages [4,5,6,7,8,9].
Objective:
In order to examine the therapeutic effects of local and systemic IL-4 expression in established CIA, an adenoviral vector carrying the gene for murine IL-4 (Ad-mIL-4) was generated. The ability of Ad-mIL-4 to treat established CIA was evaluated by local periarticular and systemic intravenous injection of Ad-mIL-4 into mice at various times after disease onset.
Materials and methods:
Male DBA/1 lacJ (H-2q) mice, aged 7-8 weeks, were purchased from The Jackson Laboratory (Bar Harbor, ME, USA). The mice were immunized intradermally at the base of tail with 100 μ g bovine type II collagen. On day 21 after priming, mice received a boost injection (intradermally) with 100 μ g type II collagen in incomplete adjuvant. For the synchronous onset of arthritis, 40 μ g lipopolysaccharide (Sigma, St Louis, MO, USA) was injected intraperitoneally on day 28. Ad-mIL-4 was injected periarticularly into the hind ankle joints of mice on day 32 or intravenously by tail vein injection on day 29. Disease severity was monitored every other day using an established macroscopic scoring system ranging from 0 to 4: 0, normal; 1, detectable arthritis with erythma; 2, significant swelling and redness; 3, severe swelling and redness from joint to digit; and 4, maximal swelling with ankylosis. The average of macroscopic score was expressed as a cumulative value for all paws, with a maximum possible score of 16 per mouse. Cytokine production by joint tissue or serum were assessed using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA; R&D Systems, Minneapolis, MN, USA).
Results:
To examine the therapeutic effects of IL-4 gene transfer in a murine model of arthritis, 5×108 particles of Ad-mIL-4 and enhanced green fluorescent protein (Ad-eGFP) were administered by periarticular injection into the ankle joints of mice with established disease 4 days after lipopolysaccharide injection. All mice had established disease at time of injection. As shown in Figure 1, the severity of arthritis (Fig. 1a), paw thickness (Fig. 1b), and the number of arthritic paws (Fig. 1c) were all significantly reduced in the Ad-mIL-4 group, compared with the saline- and Ad-eGFP-treated groups. Analysis of the bones in the ankle joints of control arthritic mice showed evidence of erosion with an associated monocytic infiltrate around the joint space compared with the Ad-mIL-4-treated and nonarthritic control joints. In addition, injection of the ankle joints in the hind legs resulted in a therapeutic effect in the front paws. A similar contralateral effect has been observed with adenoviral-mediated delivery of viral (v)-IL-10. Interestingly, a high level of murine IL-10 also was detected from the joint lysates of Ad-mIL-4-treated naïve and arthritic mice, with the production of endogenous IL-10 correlating with the dose of Ad-mIL-4. The administration of recombinant IL-4 protein systemically has been shown to be therapeutic in murine CIA models if given before disease onset. To examine the effect of systemic IL-4 delivered by gene transfer, 1×109 particles of Ad-mIL-4 were injected via the tail vein of collagen-immunized mice the day after lipopolysaccharide injection. Whereas the immunized control mice, injected with Ad-eGFP, showed disease onset on day 3 after lipopolysaccharide injection, Ad-mIL-4-treated mice showed a delay in disease onset and as a reduction in the total number of arthritic paws. Also, systemic injection of Ad-mIL-4 suppressed the severity of arthritis in CIA mice according to arthritis index.
Discussion:
Gene therapy represents a novel approach for delivery of therapeutic agents to joints in order to treat the pathologies associated with RA and osteoarthritis, as well as other disorders of the joints. In the present study we examined the ability of local periarticular and systemic gene transfer of IL-4 to treat established and early-stage murine CIA, respectively. We have demonstrated that both local and systemic administration of Ad-mIL-4 resulted in a reduction in the severity of arthritis, as well as in the number of arthritic paws. In addition, the local gene transfer of IL-4 reduced histologic signs of inflammation and of bone erosion. Interestingly, local delivery of Ad-mIL-4 was able to confer a therapeutic effect to the untreated, front paws through a currently unknown mechanism. In addition, both local and systemic expression of IL-4 resulted in an increase in the level of endogenous IL-10, as well as of IL-1Ra (data not shown). Previous experiments have shown that gene transfer of IL-10 and IL-1 and TNF inhibitors at the time of disease initiation (day 28) is therapeutic. However, delivery of these agents after disease onset appeared to have only limited therapeutic effect. In contrast, the present results demonstrate that IL-4, resulting from local periarticular and systemic injection of Ad-mIL-4, was able partially to reverse progression of established and early-stage disease, respectively. These results, as well as those of others, support the potential application of IL-4 gene therapy for the clinical treatment of RA.
PMCID: PMC17812  PMID: 11056670
adenoviral vectors; collagen-induced arthritis; gene therapy; IL-4; IL-10; rheumatoid arthritis
11.  Norisoboldine alleviates joint destruction in rats with adjuvant-induced arthritis by reducing RANKL, IL-6, PGE2, and MMP-13 expression 
Acta Pharmacologica Sinica  2013;34(3):403-413.
Aim:
To explore the effects of norisoboldine (NOR), a major isoquinoline alkaloid in Radix Linderae, on joint destruction in rats with adjuvant-induced arthritis (AIA) and its underlying mechanisms.
Methods:
AIA was induced in adult male SD rats by intradermal injection of Mycobacterium butyricum in Freund's complete adjuvant at the base of the right hind paw and tail. From d 14 after immunization, the rats were orally given NOR (7.5, 15, or 30 mg/kg) or dexamethasone (0.5 mg/kg) daily for 10 consecutive days. Joint destruction was evaluated with radiological scanning and H&E staining. Fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) were prepared from fresh synovial tissues in the AIA rats. The expression of related proteins and mRNAs were detected by ELISA, Western blotting and RT-PCR.
Results:
In AIA rats, NOR (15 and 30 mg/kg) significantly decreased the swelling of paws and arthritis index scores, and elevated the mean body weight. NOR (30 mg/kg) prevented both the infiltration of inflammatory cells and destruction of bone and cartilage in joints. However, NOR (15 mg/kg) only suppressed the destruction of bone and cartilage, but did not obviously ameliorate synovial inflammation. NOR (15 and 30 mg/kg) significantly decreased the serum levels of receptor activator of nuclear factor κB ligand (RANKL), IL-6, PGE2, and MMP-13, but not the osteoprotegerin and MMP-1 levels. The mRNA levels of RANKL, IL-6, COX-2, and MMP-13 in synovium were also suppressed. Dexamethasone produced similar effects in AIA rats as NOR did, but without elevating the mean body weight. In the cultured FLS, treatment with NOR (10 and 30 mmol/L) significantly decreased the secretion of RANKL, IL-6, PGE2, and MMP-13 proteins. Furthermore, the treatment selectively prevented the activation of MAPKs, AKT and transcription factor AP-1 component c-Jun, but not the recruitment of TRAF6 or the activation of JAK2/STAT3. Treatment of the cultured FLS with the specific inhibitors of p38, ERK, AKT, and AP-1 significantly decreased the secretion of RANKL, IL-6, PGE2, and MMP-13 proteins.
Conclusion:
NOR can alleviate joint destruction in AIA rats by reducing RANKL, IL-6, PGE2, and MMP-13 expression via the p38/ERK/AKT/AP-1 pathway.
doi:10.1038/aps.2012.187
PMCID: PMC4002497  PMID: 23396374
norisoboldine; dexamethasone; rheumatoid arthritis; adjuvant-induced arthritis; joint destruction; fibroblast-like synoviocyte; receptor activator of nuclear factor κB ligand; IL-6; PGE2; MMP-13; COX-2; p38/ERK/AKT/AP-1 pathway
12.  Matrix metalloproteinases and tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases in synovial fluids from patients with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2000;59(6):455-461.
OBJECTIVE—Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are expressed in joint tissues of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA). The objective of this study was to define the steady state levels of seven different MMPs and two tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs) as well as the potential metalloproteinase activity in the synovial fluid (SF) to provide more insight into the role of MMPs in cartilage destruction in RA and OA.
METHODS—Levels of MMP-1, MMP-2, MMP-3, MMP-7, MMP-8, MMP-9, MMP-13, TIMP-1, and TIMP-2 in SF aspirated from knee joints of 97 patients with RA and 103 patients with OA were measured by the corresponding one step sandwich enzyme immunoassays. Proteolytic activity of MMPs in these SFs was examined in an assay using [3H]carboxymethylated transferrin substrate in the presence of inhibitors of serine and cysteine proteinases after activation with p-aminophenylmercuric acetate (APMA). Destruction of RA knee joints was radiographically evaluated.
RESULTS—Levels of MMP-1, MMP-2, MMP-3, MMP-8, and MMP-9 were significantly higher in RA SF than in OA SF. MMP-7 and MMP-13 were detectable in more than 45% of RA SFs and in less than 20% of OA SFs, respectively. Among the MMPs examined, MMP-3 levels were extremely high compared with those of other MMPs. Direct correlations were seen between the levels of MMP-1 and MMP-3 and between those of MMP-8 and MMP-9 in RA SF. Although the levels of MMP-1 and MMP-3 increased even in the early stage of RA, those of MMP-8 and MMP-9 were low in the early stage and increased with the progression of RA. Molar ratios of the total amounts of the MMPs to those of the TIMPs were 5.2-fold higher in patients with RA than in OA, which was significant. APMA-activated metalloproteinase activity in SF showed a similar result, and a direct correlation was seen between the molar ratios and the activity in RA SF.
CONCLUSIONS—Our results show that high levels of MMP-1, MMP-2, MMP-3, MMP-8, MMP-9, and TIMP-1 are present in RA SF and suggest that once these MMPs are fully activated, they have an imbalance against TIMPs, which may contribute to the cartilage destruction in RA.


doi:10.1136/ard.59.6.455
PMCID: PMC1753174  PMID: 10834863
13.  FcgammaR expression on macrophages is related to severity and chronicity of synovial inflammation and cartilage destruction during experimental immune-complex-mediated arthritis (ICA) 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(6):489-503.
We investigated the role of Fcγ receptors (FcγRs) on synovial macrophages in immune-complex-mediated arthritis (ICA). ICA elicited in knee joints of C57BL/6 mice caused a short-lasting, florid inflammation and reversible loss of proteoglycans (PGs), moderate chondrocyte death, and minor erosion of the cartilage. In contrast, when ICA was induced in knee joints of Fc receptor (FcR) γ-chain-/- C57BL/6 mice, which lack functional FcγRI and RIII, inflammation and cartilage destruction were prevented. When ICA was elicited in DBA/1 mice, a very severe, chronic inflammation was observed, and significantly more chondrocyte death and cartilage erosion than in arthritic C57BL/6 mice. The synovial lining and peritoneal macrophages of naïve DBA/1 mice expressed a significantly higher level of FcγRs than was seen in C57BL/6 mice. Moreover, elevated and prolonged expression of IL-1 was found after stimulation of these cells with immune complexes. Zymosan or streptococcal cell walls caused comparable inflammation and only mild cartilage destruction in all strains. We conclude that FcγR expression on synovial macrophages may be related to the severity of synovial inflammation and cartilage destruction during ICA.
Introduction:
Fcγ receptors (FcγRs) present on cells of the haematopoietic lineage communicate with IgG-containing immune complexes that are abundant in the synovial tissue of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In mice, three classes of FcγR (RI, RII, and RIII) have been described. Binding of these receptors leads to either activation (FcγRI and RIII) or deactivation (FcγRII) of intracellular transduction pathways. Together, the expression of activating and inhibitory receptors is thought to drive immune-complex-mediated diseases.
Earlier studies in our laboratory showed that macrophages of the synovial lining are of utmost importance in the onset and propagation of immune-complex-driven arthritic diseases. Selective depletion of macrophages in the joint downregulated both inflammation and cartilage destruction. As all three classes of FcγR are expressed on synovial macrophages, these cells are among the first that come in contact with immune complexes deposited in the joint. Recently, we observed that when immune complexes were injected into the knee joints of mice, strains susceptible to collagen-type-II arthritis (DBA/1, B10.RIII) developed more severe arthritis than nonsusceptible strains did, or even developed chronic arthritis. One reason why these strains are more susceptible might be their higher levels of FcγRs on macrophage membranes. To test this hypothesis, we investigated the role of FcγRs in inflammation and cartilage damage during immune-complex-mediated arthritis (ICA). First, we studied arthritis and subsequent cartilage damage in mice lacking functional FcγRI and RIII (FcR γ-chain-/- mice). Next, DBA/1 mice, which are prone to develop collagen-type-II arthritis (`collagen-induced arthritis'; CIA) and are hypersensitive to immune complexes, were compared with control C57BL/6 mice as regards cartilage damage and the expression and function of FcγRs on their macrophages.
Aims:
To examine whether FcγR expression on macrophages is related to severity of synovial inflammation and cartilage destruction during immune-complex-mediated joint inflammation.
Methods:
ICA was induced in three strains of mice (FcR γ-chain-/-, C57BL/6, and DBA/1, which have, respectively, no functional FcγRI and RIII, intermediate basal expression of FcγRs, and high basal expression of FcγRs) by passive immunisation using rabbit anti-lysozyme antibodies, followed by poly-L-lysine lysozyme injection into the right knee joint 1 day later. In other experiments, streptococcal-cell-wall (SCW)- or zymosan-induced arthritis was induced by injecting SCW (25 μg) or zymosan (180 μg) directly into the knee joint. At several time points after arthritis induction, knee joints were dissected and studied either histologically (using haematoxylin/eosin or safranin O staining) or immuno-histochemically. The arthritis severity and the cartilage damage were scored separately on an arbitrary scale of 0-3.
FcγRs were immunohistochemically detected using the monoclonal antibody 2.4G2, which detects both FcγRII and RIII. Deposition of IgG and C3c in the arthritic joint tissue was also detected immunohistochemically. Expression of FcγRs by murine peritoneal macrophages was measured using a fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS).
Peritoneal macrophages were stimulated using heat-aggregated gamma globulins (HAGGs), and production of IL-1 was measured using a bioassay. To assess the levels of IL-1 and its receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) during arthritis, tissue was dissected and washed in RPMI medium. Washouts were tested for levels of IL-1 and IL-1Ra using radioimmunoassay and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. mRNA was isolated from the tissue, and levels of macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-2, monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP)-1, IL-1, and IL-1Ra were determined using semiquantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).
Results:
ICA induced in knee joints of C57BL/6 mice caused a florid inflammation at day 3 after induction. To investigate whether this arthritis was FcγR-mediated, ICA was induced in FcR γ-chain-/- mice, which lack functional FcγRI and RIII. At day3, virtually no inflammatory cells were found in their knee joints. Levels of mRNA of IL-1, IL-1Ra, MCP-1, and MIP-2, which are involved in the onset of this arthritis, were significantly lower in FcR γ-chain-/- mice than in control C57BL/6 mice. Levels of IL-1 protein were also measured. At 6 h after ICA induction, FcR γ-chain-/- mice and control C57BL/6 mice showed similar IL-1 production as measured by protein level. By 24 h after induction, however, IL-1 production in the FcR γ-chain-/- mice was below the detection limit, whereas the controls were still producing a significant amount. To investigate whether the difference in reaction to immune complexes between the DBA/1 and C57BL/6 mice might be due to variable expression of FcγRs in the knee joint, expression in situ of FcγRs in naïve knee joints of these mice was determined. The monoclonal antibody 2.4G2, which detects both FcγRII and RIII, stained macrophages from the synovial lining of DBA/1 mice more intensely than those from C57BL/6 mice. This finding suggests a higher constitutive expression of FcγRs by macrophages of the autoimmune-prone DBA/1 mice. To quantify the difference in FcγR expression on macrophages of the two strains, we determined the occurrence of FcγRs on peritoneal macrophages by FACS analysis. The levels of FcγR expressed by macrophages were twice as high in the DBA/1 mice as in the C57BL/6 mice (mean fluorescence, respectively, 440 ± 50 and 240 ± 30 intensity per cell). When peritoneal macrophages of both strains were stimulated with immune complexes (HAGGs), we found that the difference in basal FcγR expression was functional. The stimulated macrophages from DBA/1 mice had significantly higher IL-1α levels (120 and 135 pg/ml at 24 and 48 h, respectively) than cells from C57BL/6 mice (45 and 50 pg/ml, respectively).
When arthritis was induced using other arthritogenic triggers than immune complexes (zymosan, SCW), all the mouse strains tested (DBA/1, FcR γ-chain-/-, and C57BL/6) showed similar inflammation, indicating that the differences described above are found only when immune complexes are used to elicit arthritis.
We next compared articular cartilage damage in arthritic joints of the three mouse strains FcR γ-chain-/-, C57BL/6 (intermediate basal expression of FcγRs), and DBA/1 (high basal expression of FcγRs). Three indicators of cartilage damage were investigated: depletion of PGs, chondrocyte death, and erosion of the cartilage matrix. At day 3 after induction of ICA, there was no PG depletion in FcR γ-chain-/- mice, whereas PG depletion in the matrix of the C57BL/6 mice was marked and that in the arthritic DBA/1 mice was even greater. PG depletion was still massive at days 7 and 14 in the DBA/1 mice, whereas by day 14 the PG content was almost completely restored in knee joints of the C57BL/6 mice. Chondrocyte death and erosion of cartilage matrix, two indicators of more severe cartilage destruction, were significantly higher in the DBA/1 than in the C57BL/6 mice, while both indicators were completely absent in the FcR γ-chain-/- mice. Again, when arthritis was induced using other triggers (SCW, zymosan), all strains showed similar PG depletion and no chondrocyte death or matrix erosion. These findings underline the important role of immune complexes and FcγRs in irreversible cartilage damage.
Discussion:
Our findings indicate that inflammation and subsequent cartilage damage caused by immune complexes may be related to the occurrence of FcγRs on macrophages. The absence of functional FcγRI and RIII prevented inflammation and cartilage destruction after induction of ICA, whereas high basal expression of FcγRs on resident joint macrophages of similarly treated mice susceptible to autoimmune arthritis was correlated with markedly more synovial inflammation and cartilage destruction. The difference in joint inflammation between the three strains was not due to different susceptibilities to inflammation per se, since intra-articular injection of zymosan or SCW caused comparable inflammation. Although extensive inflammatory cell mass was found in the synovium of all strains after intra-articular injection of zymosan, no irreversible cartilage damage (chondrocyte death or matrix erosion) was found. ICA induced in C57BL/6 and DBA/1 mice did cause irreversible cartilage damage at later time points, indicating that immune complexes and FcγRs play an important role in inducing irreversible cartilage damage. Macrophages communicate with immune complexes via Fcγ receptors. Absence of functional activating receptors completely abrogates the synovial inflammation, as was shown after ICA induction in FcR γ-chain-/- mice. However, the γ-chain is essential not only in FcγRI and RIII but also for FcεRI (found on mast cells) and the T cell receptor (TcR)-CD3 (Tcells) complex of γδT cells. However, T, B, or mast cells do not play a role in this arthritis that is induced by passive immunisation. Furthermore, this effect was not caused by a difference in clearance of IgG or complement deposition in the tissue. In this study, DBA/1 mice, which are susceptible to collagen-induced autoimmune arthritis and in a recent study have been shown to react hypersensitively to immune complexes, are shown to express higher levels of FcγRs on both synovial and peritoneal macrophages. Because antibodies directed against the different subclasses of FcγR are not available, no distinction could be made between FcγRII and RIII. Genetic differences in DBA/1 mice in genes coding for or regulating FcγRs may be responsible for altered FcγR expression. If so, these mouse strains would have a heightened risk for immune-complex-mediated diseases.
To provide conclusive evidence for the roles of the various classes of FcγR during ICA, experiments are needed in which FcγRs are blocked with specific antibodies, or in which knockout mice lacking one specific class of FcγR are used. The only available specific antibody to FcγR (2.4G2) has a stimulatory effect on cells once bound to the receptor, and therefore cannot be used in blocking experiments. Experiments using specific knockout mice are now being done in our laboratory.
Macrophages are the dominant type of cell present in chronic inflammation during RA and their number has been shown to correlate well with severe cartilage destruction. Apart from that, in humans, these synovial tissue macrophages express activating FcRs, mainly FcγIIIa, which may lead to activation of these macrophages by IgG-containing immune complexes. The expression of FcRs on the surface of these cells may have important implications for joint inflammation and severe cartilage destruction and therefore FCRs may constitute a new target for therapeutic intervention.
PMCID: PMC17821  PMID: 11056679
autoimmunity; cytokines; Fc receptors; inflammation; macrophages
14.  The Efficacy of Shikonin on Cartilage Protection in a Mouse Model of Rheumatoid Arthritis 
The potential therapeutic action of shikonin in an experimental model of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) was investigated. As a RA animal model, DBA/1J mice were immunized two times with type II collagen. After the second collagen immunization, mice were orally administered shikonin (2 mg/kg) once a day for 35 days, and the incidence, clinical score, bone mineral density (BMD), bone mineral content (BMC) and joint histopathology were evaluated. BMD in the proximal regions of the tibia largely increased in the shikonin treatment group compared with the control group. We also examined the effect of shikonin on inflammatory cytokines and cartilage protection. Shikonin treatment significantly reduced the incidence and severity of collagen-induced arthritis (CIA), markedly abrogating joint swelling and cartilage destruction. Shikonin also significantly inhibited the production of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-1 and up-regulated tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinase (TIMP)-1 in mice with CIA. In conclusion, shikonin exerted therapeutic effects through regulation of MMP/TIMP; these results suggest that shikonin is an outstanding candidate as a cartilage protective medicine for RA.
doi:10.4196/kjpp.2010.14.4.199
PMCID: PMC2933435  PMID: 20827333
Shikonin; Bone mineral density; Bone mineral contents; MMP-1; TIMP-1
15.  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.
Introduction:
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.
Objectives:
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
16.  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.
Introduction
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/ar2810
PMCID: PMC2787297  PMID: 19765281
17.  Macrophage migration inhibitory factor: a mediator of matrix metalloproteinase-2 production in rheumatoid arthritis 
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by destruction of bone and cartilage, which is mediated, in part, by synovial fibroblasts. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are a large family of proteolytic enzymes responsible for matrix degradation. Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) is a cytokine that induces the production of a large number of proinflammatory molecules and has an important role in the pathogenesis of RA by promoting inflammation and angiogenesis.
In the present study, we determined the role of MIF in RA synovial fibroblast MMP production and the underlying signaling mechanisms. We found that MIF induces RA synovial fibroblast MMP-2 expression in a time-dependent and concentration-dependent manner. To elucidate the role of MIF in MMP-2 production, we produced zymosan-induced arthritis (ZIA) in MIF gene-deficient and wild-type mice. We found that MMP-2 protein levels were significantly decreased in MIF gene-deficient compared with wild-type mice joint homogenates. The expression of MMP-2 in ZIA was evaluated by immunohistochemistry (IHC). IHC revealed that MMP-2 is highly expressed in wild-type compared with MIF gene-deficient mice ZIA joints. Interestingly, synovial lining cells, endothelial cells, and sublining nonlymphoid mononuclear cells expressed MMP-2 in the ZIA synovium. Consistent with these results, in methylated BSA (mBSA) antigen-induced arthritis (AIA), a model of RA, enhanced MMP-2 expression was also observed in wild-type compared with MIF gene-deficient mice joints. To elucidate the signaling mechanisms in MIF-induced MMP-2 upregulation, RA synovial fibroblasts were stimulated with MIF in the presence of signaling inhibitors. We found that MIF-induced RA synovial fibroblast MMP-2 upregulation required the protein kinase C (PKC), c-jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), and Src signaling pathways. We studied the expression of MMP-2 in the presence of PKC isoform-specific inhibitors and found that the PKCδ inhibitor rottlerin inhibits MIF-induced RA synovial fibroblast MMP-2 production. Consistent with these results, MIF induced phosphorylation of JNK, PKCδ, and c-jun. These results indicate a potential novel role for MIF in tissue destruction in RA.
doi:10.1186/ar2021
PMCID: PMC1779381  PMID: 16872482
18.  Urokinase-type plasminogen activator and arthritis progression: contrasting roles in systemic and monoarticular arthritis models 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2010;12(5):R199.
Introduction
Urokinase-type plasminogen activator (u-PA) has been implicated in tissue destruction/remodeling. The absence of u-PA results in resistance of mice to systemic immune complex-driven arthritis models; monoarticular arthritis models involving an intra-articular (i.a.) antigen injection, on the other hand, develop more severe arthritis in its absence. The aims of the current study are to investigate further these contrasting roles that u-PA can play in the pathogenesis of inflammatory arthritis and to determine whether u-PA is required for the cartilage and bone destruction associated with disease progression.
Methods
To determine how the different pathogenic mechanisms leading to arthritis development in the different models may explain the contrasting requirement for u-PA, the systemic, polyarticular, immune complex-driven K/BxN arthritis model was modified to include an i.a. injection of saline as a local trauma in u-PA-/- mice. This modified model and the antigen-induced arthritis (AIA) model were also used in u-PA-/- mice to determine the requirement for u-PA in joint destruction. Disease severity was determined by clinical and histologic scoring. Fibrin(ogen) staining and the matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-generated neoepitope DIPEN staining were performed by immunohistochemistry. Gene expression of inflammatory and destructive mediators was measured in joint tissue by quantitative PCR.
Results
In our modified arthritis model, u-PA-/- mice went from being resistant to arthritis development following K/BxN serum transfer to being susceptible following the addition of an i.a. injection of saline. u-PA-/- mice also developed more sustained AIA compared with C57BL/6 mice, including reduced proteoglycan levels and increased bone erosions, fibrin(ogen) deposition and DIPEN expression. Synovial gene expression of the proinflammatory mediators (TNF and IL-1β), aggrecanases (ADAMTS-4 and -5) and MMPs (MMP3 and MMP13) were all sustained over time following AIA induction in u-PA-/- mice compared with C57BL/6 mice.
Conclusions
We propose that u-PA has a protective role in arthritis models with 'wound healing-like' processes following local trauma, possibly through u-PA/plasmin-mediated fibrinolysis, but a deleterious role in systemic models that are critically dependent on immune complex formation and complement activation. Given that cartilage proteoglycan loss and bone erosions were present and sustained in u-PA-/- mice with monoarticular arthritis, it is unlikely that u-PA/plasmin-mediated proteolysis is contributing directly to this tissue destruction/remodeling.
doi:10.1186/ar3171
PMCID: PMC2991036  PMID: 20973954
19.  Local expression of matrix metalloproteinases, cathepsins, and their inhibitors during the development of murine antigen-induced arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2004;7(1):R174-R188.
Cartilage and bone degradation, observed in human rheumatoid arthritis (RA), are caused by aberrant expression of proteinases, resulting in an imbalance of these degrading enzymes and their inhibitors. However, the role of the individual proteinases in the pathogenesis of degradation is not yet completely understood. Murine antigen-induced arthritis (AIA) is a well-established animal model of RA. We investigated the time profiles of expression of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP), cathepsins, tissue inhibitors of matrix metalloproteinases (TIMP) and cystatins in AIA. For primary screening, we revealed the expression profile with Affymetrix oligonucleotide chips. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analyses were performed for the validation of array results, for tests of more RNA samples and for the completion of the time profile. For the analyses at the protein level, we used an MMP fluorescence activity assay and zymography. By a combination of oligonucleotide chips, real-time PCR and zymography, we showed differential expressions of several MMPs, cathepsins and proteinase inhibitors in the course of AIA. The strongest dysregulation was observed on days 1 and 3 in the acute phase. Proteoglycan loss analysed by safranin O staining was also strongest on days 1 and 3. Expression of most of the proteinases followed the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines. TIMP-3 showed an expression profile similar to that of anti-inflammatory interleukin-4. The present study indicates that MMPs and cathepsins are important in AIA and contribute to the degradation of cartilage and bone.
doi:10.1186/ar1466
PMCID: PMC1064893  PMID: 15642138
Affymetrix oligonucleotide chips; cathepsins; cytokines; matrix metalloproteinases; murine antigen-induced arthritis
20.  Inhibition of cartilage and bone destruction in adjuvant arthritis in the rat by a matrix metalloproteinase inhibitor 
Considerable evidence has associated the expression of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) with the degradation of cartilage and bone in chronic conditions such as arthritis. Direct evaluation of MMPs' role in vivo has awaited the development of MMP inhibitors with appropriate pharmacological properties. We have identified butanediamide, N4- hydroxy-2-(2-methylpropyl)-N1-[2-[[2-(morpholinyl)ethyl]-,[S- (R*,S*)] (GI168) as a potent MMP inhibitor with sufficient solubility and stability to permit evaluation in an experimental model of chronic destructive arthritis (adjuvant-induced arthritis) in rats. In this model, pronounced acute and chronic synovial inflammation, distal tibia and metatarsal marrow hyperplasia associated with osteoclasia, severe bone and cartilage destruction, and ectopic new bone growth are well developed by 3 wk after adjuvant injection. Rats were injected with Freund's adjuvant on day 0. GI168 was was administered systemically from days 8 to 21 by osmotic minipumps implanted subcutaneously. GI168 at 6, 12, and 25 mg/kg per d reduced ankle swelling in a dose-related fashion. Radiological and histological ankle joint evaluation on day 22 revealed a profound dose related inhibition of bone and cartilage destruction in treated rats relative to rats receiving vehicle alone. A significant reduction in edema, pannus formation, periosteal new bone growth and the numbers of adherent marrow osteoclasts was also noted. However, no significant decrease in polymorphonuclear and mononuclear leukocyte infiltration of synovium and marrow hematopoietic cellularity was seen. This unique profile of antiarthritic activity indicates that GI168 is osteo- and chondro-protective, and it supports a direct role for MMP in cartilage and bone damage and pannus formation in adjuvant- induced arthritis.
PMCID: PMC2192113  PMID: 7629505
21.  Human epidermal growth factor receptor bispecific ligand trap RB200: abrogation of collagen-induced arthritis in combination with tumour necrosis factor blockade 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(5):R161.
Introduction
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic disease associated with inflammation and destruction of bone and cartilage. Although inhibition of TNFα is widely used to treat RA, a significant number of patients do not respond to TNFα blockade, and therefore there is a compelling need to continue to identify alternative therapeutic strategies for treating chronic inflammatory diseases such as RA. The anti-epidermal growth factor (anti-EGF) receptor antibody trastuzumab has revolutionised the treatment of patients with EGF receptor-positive breast cancer. Expression of EGF ligands and receptors (known as HER) has also been documented in RA. The highly unique compound RB200 is a bispecific ligand trap that is composed of full-length extracellular domains of HER1 and HER3 EGF receptors. Because of its pan-HER specificity, RB200 inhibits responses mediated by HER1, HER2 and HER3 in vitro and in vivo. The objective of this study was to assess the effect of RB200 combined with TNF blockade in a murine collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) model of RA.
Methods
Arthritic mice were treated with RB200 alone or in combination with the TNF receptor fusion protein etanercept. We performed immunohistochemistry to assess CD31 and in vivo fluorescent imaging using anti-E-selectin antibody labelled with fluorescent dye to elucidate the effect of RB200 on the vasculature in CIA.
Results
RB200 significantly abrogated CIA by reducing paw swelling and clinical scores. Importantly, low-dose RB200 combined with a suboptimal dose of etanercept led to complete abrogation of arthritis. Moreover, the combination of RB200 with etanercept abrogated the intensity of the E-selectin-targeted signal to the level seen in control animals not immunised to CIA.
Conclusions
The human pan-EGF receptor bispecific ligand trap RB200, when combined with low-dose etanercept, abrogates CIA, suggesting that inhibition of events downstream of EGF receptor activation, in combination with TNFα inhibitors, may hold promise as a future therapy for patients with RA.
doi:10.1186/ar3480
PMCID: PMC3308094  PMID: 21982514
22.  Induction of Host Matrix Metalloproteinases by Borrelia burgdorferi Differs in Human and Murine Lyme Arthritis  
Infection and Immunity  2005;73(1):126-134.
Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are induced from host tissues in response to Borrelia burgdorferi. Upregulation of MMPs may play a role in the dissemination of the organism through extracellular matrix tissues, but it can also result in destructive pathology. Although mice are a well-accepted model for Lyme arthritis, there are significant differences compared to human disease. We sought to determine whether MMP expression could account for some of these differences. MMP expression patterns following B. burgdorferi infection were analyzed in primary human chondrocytes, synovial fluid samples from patients with Lyme arthritis, and cartilage tissue from Lyme arthritis-susceptible and -resistant mice by using a gene array, real-time PCR, an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and immunohistochemistry. B. burgdorferi infection significantly induced transcription of MMP-1, -3, -13, and -19 from primary human chondrocyte cells. Transcription of MMP-10 and tissue inhibitor of metalloprotease 1 was increased with B. burgdorferi infection, but protein expression was only minimally increased. The synovial fluid levels of MMPs from patients with high and low spirochete burdens were consistent with results seen in the in vitro studies. B. burgdorferi-susceptible C3H/HeN mice infected with B. burgdorferi showed induction of MMP-3 and MMP-19 but no other MMP or tissue inhibitor of metalloprotease. As determined by immunohistochemistry, MMP-3 expression was increased only in chondrocytes near the articular surface. The levels of MMPs were significantly lower in the more Lyme arthritis-resistant BALB/c and C57BL/6 mice. Differences between human and murine Lyme arthritis may be related to the lack of induction of collagenases, such MMP-1 and MMP-13, in mouse joints.
doi:10.1128/IAI.73.1.126-134.2005
PMCID: PMC539001  PMID: 15618147
23.  Matrix metalloproteinase inhibitors in rheumatic diseases 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2001;60(Suppl 3):iii62-iii67.
The rheumatic diseases continue to represent a significant healthcare burden in the 21st century. However, despite the best standard of care and recent therapeutic advances it is still not possible to consistently prevent the progressive joint destruction that leads to chronic disability. In rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis this progressive cartilage and bone destruction is considered to be driven by an excess of the matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) enzymes. Consequently, a great number of potent small molecule MMP inhibitors have been examined. Several MMP inhibitors have entered clinical trials as a result of impressive data in animal models, although only one MMP inhibitor, Ro32-3555 (Trocade), a collagenase selective inhibitor, has been fully tested in the clinic, but it did not prevent progression of joint damage in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
  The key stages and challenges associated with the development of an MMP inhibitor in the rheumatic diseases are presented below with particular reference to Trocade. It is concluded that the future success of MMP inhibitors necessitates a greater understanding of the joint destructive process and it is hoped that their development may be accompanied with clearer, more practical, outcome measures to test these drugs for, what remains, an unmet medical need.


doi:10.1136/ard.60.90003.iii62
PMCID: PMC1766680  PMID: 11890658
24.  Genetic Inhibition of Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor 1 in Knee Cartilage Attenuates the Degeneration of Articular Cartilage in Adult Mice 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(12):3982-3992.
Objective
Fibroblast growth factor (FGF) family members are involved in the regulation of articular cartilage homeostasis. The aim of this study was to investigate the function of FGF receptor 1 (FGFR-1) in the development of osteoarthritis (OA) and its underlying mechanisms.
Methods
FGFR-1 was deleted from the articular chondrocytes of adult mice in a cartilage-specific and tamoxifen-inducible manner. Two OA models (aging-associated spontaneous OA, and destabilization-induced OA), as well as an antigen-induced arthritis (AIA) model, were established and tested in Fgfr1-deficient and wild-type (WT) mice. Alterations in cartilage structure and the loss of proteoglycan were assessed in the knee joints of mice of either genotype, using these 3 arthritis models. Primary chondrocytes were isolated and the expression of key regulatory molecules was assessed quantitatively. In addition, the effect of an FGFR-1 inhibitor on human articular chondrocytes was examined.
Results
The gross morphologic features of Fgfr1-deficient mice were comparable with those of WT mice at both the postnatal and adult stages. The articular cartilage of 12-month-old Fgfr1-deficient mice displayed greater aggrecan staining compared to 12-month-old WT mice. Fgfr1 deficiency conferred resistance to the proteoglycan loss induced by AIA and attenuated the development of cartilage destruction after surgically induced destabilization of the knee joint. The chondroprotective effect of FGFR-1 inhibition was largely associated with decreased expression of matrix metalloproteinase 13 (MMP-13) and up-regulation of FGFR-3 in mouse and human articular chondrocytes.
Conclusion
Disruption of FGFR-1 in adult mouse articular chondrocytes inhibits the progression of cartilage degeneration. Down-regulation of MMP-13 expression and up-regulation of FGFR-3 levels may contribute to the phenotypic changes observed in Fgfr1-deficient mice.
doi:10.1002/art.34645
PMCID: PMC3690192  PMID: 22833219
25.  Key regulatory molecules of cartilage destruction in rheumatoid arthritis: an in vitro study 
Background
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic, inflammatory and systemic autoimmune disease that leads to progressive cartilage destruction. Advances in the treatment of RA-related destruction of cartilage require profound insights into the molecular mechanisms involved in cartilage degradation. Until now, comprehensive data about the molecular RA-related dysfunction of chondrocytes have been limited. Hence, the objective of this study was to establish a standardized in vitro model to profile the key regulatory molecules of RA-related destruction of cartilage that are expressed by human chondrocytes.
Methods
Human chondrocytes were cultured three-dimensionally for 14 days in alginate beads and subsequently stimulated for 48 hours with supernatants from SV40 T-antigen immortalized human synovial fibroblasts (SF) derived from a normal donor (NDSF) and from a patient with RA (RASF), respectively. To identify RA-related factors released from SF, supernatants of RASF and NDSF were analyzed with antibody-based protein membrane arrays. Stimulated cartilage-like cultures were used for subsequent gene expression profiling with oligonucleotide microarrays. Affymetrix GeneChip Operating Software and Robust Multi-array Analysis (RMA) were used to identify differentially expressed genes. Expression of selected genes was verified by real-time RT-PCR.
Results
Antibody-based protein membrane arrays of synovial fibroblast supernatants identified RA-related soluble mediators (IL-6, CCL2, CXCL1–3, CXCL8) released from RASF. Genome-wide microarray analysis of RASF-stimulated chondrocytes disclosed a distinct expression profile related to cartilage destruction involving marker genes of inflammation (adenosine A2A receptor, cyclooxygenase-2), the NF-κB signaling pathway (toll-like receptor 2, spermine synthase, receptor-interacting serine-threonine kinase 2), cytokines/chemokines and receptors (CXCL1–3, CXCL8, CCL20, CXCR4, IL-1β, IL-6), cartilage degradation (matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-10, MMP-12) and suppressed matrix synthesis (cartilage oligomeric matrix protein, chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan 2).
Conclusion
Differential transcriptome profiling of stimulated human chondrocytes revealed a disturbed catabolic–anabolic homeostasis of chondrocyte function and disclosed relevant pharmacological target genes of cartilage destruction. This study provides comprehensive insight into molecular regulatory processes induced in human chondrocytes during RA-related destruction of cartilage. The established model may serve as a human in vitro disease model of RA-related destruction of cartilage and may help to elucidate the molecular effects of anti-rheumatic drugs on human chondrocyte gene expression.
doi:10.1186/ar2358
PMCID: PMC2374452  PMID: 18205922

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