Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder whose origin of defect has been the subject of extensive research during the past few decades. While a number of immune and non‐immune cell types participate in the development of chronic destructive inflammation in the arthritic joint, synovial fibroblasts have emerged as key effector cells capable of modulating both joint destruction and propagation of inflammation. Ample evidence of aberrant changes in the morphology and biochemical behaviour of rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts have established the tissue evading and “transformed” character of this cell type. We have recently demonstrated that actin cytoskeletal rearrangements determine the pathogenic activation of synovial fibroblasts in modelled TNF‐mediated arthritis, a finding correlating with similar gene expression changes which we observed in human rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts. Here, we show that pharmacological inhibition of actin cytoskeleton dynamics alters potential pathogenic properties of the arthritogenic synovial fibroblast, such as proliferation, migration and resistance to apoptosis, indicating novel opportunities for therapeutic intervention in arthritis. Recent advances in this field of research are reviewed and discussed.
Synovial T cells in rheumatoid arthritis are highly differentiated and express a phenotype suggesting susceptibility to apoptosis (CD45RB dull, CD45RO bright, Bcl-2 low, Bax high, Fas high). However, no evidence of T cell apoptosis was found in synovial fluid from any of 28 patients studied. In contrast, synovial fluid from 10 patients with crystal arthritis showed substantial levels of T cell apoptosis. The failre of apoptosis was not an intrinsic property of rheumatoid synovial T cells, as they showed rapid spontaneous apoptosis on removal from the joint. Synovial T cells from rheumatoid arthritis and gout patients could be rescued from spontaneous apoptosis in vitro either by IL-2R gamma chain signaling cytokines (which upregulate Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL) or by interaction with synovial fibroblasts (which upregulates Bcl-xL but not Bcl-2). The phenotype of rheumatoid synovial T cells ex vivo (Bcl-2 low, Bcl-xL high) suggested a fibroblast-mediated mechanism in vivo. This was confirmed by in vitro culture of synovial T cells with fibroblasts which maintained the Bcl-xL high Bcl-2 low phenotype. Synovial T cells from gout patients were Bcl-2 low Bcl-xL low and showed clear evidence of apoptosis in vivo. Inhibition experiments suggested that an integrin-ligand interaction incorporating the Arg-Gly-Asp motif is involved in fibroblast-mediated synovial T cell survival. We propose that environmental blockade of cell death resulting from interaction with stromal cells is a major factor in the persistent T cell infiltration of chronically inflamed rheumatoid synovium.
For some time synovial fibroblasts have been regarded simply as innocent synovial cells, mainly responsible for synovial homeostasis. During the past decade, however, a body of evidence has accumulated illustrating that rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts (RASFs) are active drivers of joint destruction in rheumatoid arthritis. Details regarding the intracellular signalling cascades that result in long-term activation and synthesis of proinflammatory molecules and matrix-degrading enzymes by RASFs have been analyzed. Molecular, cellular and animal studies have identified various interactions with other synovial and inflammatory cells. This expanded knowledge of the distinct role played by RASFs in the pathophysiology of rheumatoid arthritis has moved these fascinating cells to the fore, and work to identify targeted therapies to inhibit their joint destructive potential is underway.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune arthritis characterized by joint destruction. Anti-citrullinated protein antibodies are pathologic in rheumatoid arthritis, but the role of the citrullinated proteins themselves is much less clear. Citrullination is the conversion of the arginine residues of a protein to citrulline. In the inflamed rheumatoid joint there is increased protein citrullination. Several proteins are citrullinated in rheumatoid arthritis, including collagen type II, fibrinogen, and fibronectin. Fibronectin is thought to mediate the adhesion of joint-invading synovial fibroblasts to the rheumatoid cartilage in addition to regulating other synovial fibroblast functions. However, the effect of citrullinated fibronectin on synovial fibroblasts is unknown.
To investigate the effect of citrullinated fibronectin on synovial fibroblast behavior, we cultured normal murine, arthritic murine, and human rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts. We then compared several synovial fibroblast functions in the presence of fibronectin versus citrullinated fibronectin. We assessed adhesion with time-lapse microscopy, migration with transwell assays, focal adhesion kinase and paxillin phosphorylation by western blot, and focal matrix degradation by fluorescent gelatin degradation.
Normal synovial fibroblasts have impaired adhesion, spreading, migration, and integrin-mediated phosphorylation of focal adhesion kinase and paxillin on citrullinated fibronectin. Murine arthritic and human rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts also have impaired adhesion and spreading on citrullinated fibronectin, but focal matrix degradation is unaffected by citrullinated fibronectin.
Citrullination of fibronectin alters synovial fibroblast behavior and may affect how these cells adhere to and invade the joint and travel through the bloodstream. This work suggests an important role for the interaction of synovial fibroblasts with citrullinated matrix in the pathophysiology of rheumatoid arthritis.
Synovial fibroblast cell strains derived from the synovial membranes of 7 patients with rheumatoid arthritis were examined for the presence of viruses, in particular leucoviruses. Seven similar synovial strains derived from patients with other arthritic conditions were used as a control group. Evidence of the presence of a virus or a viral genome was looked for by several methods of induction followed by 3H-uridine labelling of the cultures. In addition, the culture supernatant, after induction and after the synovial strains had been co-cultivated with a variety of cell lines from several species, was assayed for the presence of viral RNA-dependent DNA polymerase activity. The DNA-polymerase activity of the synovial cells themselves was also determined. No evidence was found by any of these techniques to indicate the presence of virus or viral information within the synovial fibroblasts.
There is growing evidence that activated synovial fibroblasts, as part of a complex cellular network, play an important role in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis. In recent years, significant progress has been made in elucidating the specific features of these fibroblasts. It has been understood that although macrophage and lymphocyte secreted factors contribute to their activation, rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts (RA-SFs) do not merely respond to stimulation by pro-inflammatory cytokines, but show a complex pattern of molecular changes also maintained in the absence of external stimulation. This pattern of activation is characterized by alterations in the expression of regulatory genes and signaling cascades, as well as changes in pathways leading to apoptosis. These together result in the upregulation of adhesion molecules that mediate the attachment of RA-SFs to the extracellular matrix and in the overexpression of matrix degrading enzymes that mediate the progressive destruction of the joints. In addition, activated RA-SFs exert specific effects on other cell types such as macrophages and lymphocytes. While the initiating step in the activation of RA-SFs remains elusive, several key pathways of RA-SF activation have been identified. However, there is so far no single, specific marker for this phenotype of RA-SF. It appears that activated RA-SFs are characterized by a set of specific properties which together lead to their aggressive behavior.
fibroblasts; rheumatoid arthritis
Active rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by originating from few but affecting subsequently the majority of joints. Thus far, the pathways of the progression of the disease are largely unknown. As rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts (RASFs) are key players in joint destruction and migrate in vitro, the current study evaluated the potential of RASFs to spread the disease in vivo. To simulate the primary joint of origin, healthy human cartilage was co-implanted subcutaneously into SCID mice together with RASFs. At the contralateral flank, healthy cartilage was implanted without cells. RASFs showed an active movement to the naïve cartilage via the vasculature independent of the site of application of RASFs into the SCID mouse, leading to a strong destruction of the target cartilage. These findings support the hypothesis that the characteristic clinical phenomenon of destructive arthritis spreading between joints is mediated, at least in part, by the transmigration of activated RASFs.
The synovium from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and LEW/N rats with streptococcal cell wall (SCW) arthritis, an experimental model resembling RA, is characterized by massive proliferation of synovial connective tissues and invasive destruction of periarticular bone and cartilage. Since heparin binding growth factor (HBGF)-1, the precursor of acidic fibroblast growth factor (FGF), is a potent angiogenic polypeptide and mitogen for mesenchymal cells, we sought evidence that it was involved in the synovial pathology of RA and SCW arthritis. HBGF-1 mRNA was detected in RA synovium using the polymerase chain reaction technique, and its product was immunolocalized intracellularly in both RA and osteoarthritis (OA) synovium. HBGF-1 staining was more extensive and intense in synovium of RA patients than OA and correlated with the extent and intensity of synovial mononuclear cell infiltration. HBGF-1 staining also correlated with c-Fos protein staining. In SCW arthritis, HBGF-1 immunostaining was noted in bone marrow, bone, cartilage, synovium, ligamentous and tendinous structures, as well as various dermal structures and developed early in both T-cell competent and incompetent rats. Persistent high level immunostaining of HBGF-1 was only noted in T-cell competent rats like the disease process in general. These observations implicate HBGF-1 in a multitude of biological functions in inflammatory joint diseases.
The overgrowth of synovial tissues is critical in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The expression of Synoviolin (SYN), an E3 ubiquitin ligase, is upregulated in arthritic synovial fibroblasts and is involved in the overgrowth of synovial cells during RA. However, the molecular mechanisms involved in the elevated SYN expression are not known. Here, we found that SYN expression is elevated in the synovial fibroblasts from mice with collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). The proinflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-1β and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) induce SYN expression in mouse synovial fibroblasts. Cultivation of mouse synovial fibroblasts with IL-1β activates mitogen-activated protein kinases, including extra-cellular signal-regulated kinase (Erk), JNK (c-Jun N-terminal kinase), and p38, while only Erk-specific inhibitor blocks IL-1β-induced SYN expression. Expression of transcription factor ETS1 further enhances IL-1β-induced SYN expression. The dominant negative ETS1 mutant lacking the transcription activation domain inhibits SYN expression in a dose-dependent manner. The activation of both Erk1/2 and ETS1 is increased in the CIA synovial fibroblasts. Inhibition of Erk activation reduces ETS1 phosphorylation and SYN expression. Our data indicate that the proinflammatory cytokines IL-1β and TNF-α induce the overgrowth of synovial cells by upregulating SYN expression via the Erk1/-ETS1 pathway. These molecules or pathways could therefore be potential targets for the treatment of RA.
A characteristic feature of rheumatoid arthritis is hyperplasia of the synovial lining cells and fibroblasts, the source of tissue-degrading mediators, in association with the appearance and persistence of lymphocytes in affected joints. Diseased synovial tissue obtained at arthroscopy from 10 of 12 rheumatoid arthritis patients was found to release a factor(s) that could stimulate quiescent fibroblasts to proliferate in vitro. Mononuclear cells isolated from this synovial tissue and from the synovial fluid spontaneously produced fibroblast- activating factor(s) (FAF). In contrast, synovial tissue from patients with noninflammatory joint disease did not release FAF. By gel filtration, FAF was detected in two peaks (40,000 and 15,000 mol wt) that were consistent with the previously described peripheral blood T lymphocyte- and monocyte-derived factors with identical activity. The mononuclear cells were predominantly OKT3+/Leu-1+ T lymphocytes and OKM1+ cells of monocyte/macrophage lineage that expressed HLA-DR antigens, suggesting prior activation of these cells. Mononuclear cells isolated from the peripheral blood of these patients did not spontaneously secrete FAF. Lymphocytes and monocytes from the site of synovial inflammation appear to be activated in situ to produce factors that may contribute to the hyperplasia and overgrowth of the synovial membrane in rheumatoid arthritis.
Derangements of synovial membranes and cartilage occur early in the course of rheumatoid arthritis. These important alterations of the joint tissues are probably the in vivo reflections of complicated inflammatory and immunological events. In our laboratory we have been interested in studying alterations of synovial lining cells in rheumatoid arthritis, most recently by the use of serially propagated cultures of these cells. The cellular traits described in such cultures serve to distinguish these synovial cells from other types of human fibroblasts, and several cellular alterations have been found in cultures derived from membranes of rheumatoid arthritic patients. One important finding is increased resistance of cultured rheumatoid cells to infection with rubella and NDV; this and other cellular changes suggest the possibility of an occult virus infection in the rheumatoid cells. Such viral persistence could be theoretically linked with the immunologic aberrations in rheumatoid arthritis, discussed in this symposium.
Reduced synovial expression of histone deacetylases (HDACs) is proposed to contribute to pathology in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) by enhancing histone-dependent access of transcription factors to promoters of inflammatory genes. In the previous issue of Arthritis Research & Therapy, Kawabata and colleagues provided independent evidence that HDAC activity is increased in the synovium and fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs) of patients with RA and is paralleled by increased HDAC1 expression and synovial tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFα) production. Remarkably, stimulation of RA FLSs with TNFα specifically increases HDAC activity and HDAC1 expression, suggesting that changes in synovial HDAC activity and expression may be secondary to local inflammatory status.
OBJECTIVE—To examine the effect of iron on the prostaglandin (PG) E2 production by human synovial fibroblasts in vitro.
METHODS—Human synovial fibroblasts were isolated from synovial tissue of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA) patients and cultured in medium. Synovial fibroblasts were stimulated by human recombinant interleukin (IL) 1β (0.1-10 ng/ml) with or without ferric citrate (Fe-citrate, 0.01-1 mM). The amount of PGE2 in the culture medium was measured by an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay.
RESULTS—The production of PGE2 by the synovial fibroblasts was increased by stimulation with IL1β at all concentrations tested. Fe-citrate but not sodium citrate (Na-citrate) down regulated the production of PGE2 by the synovial fibroblasts, both with and without stimulation by IL1β. Fe-citrate inhibited the spontaneous PGE2 production by the cells in a dose dependent manner, and a maximum inhibition by Fe-citrate was observed at the concentration of 0.1 mM with IL1β stimulation. The down regulation by iron was reversed by the co-addition of desferrioxamine (100 µg/ml), an iron chelator.
CONCLUSION—Iron down regulates the PGE2 production by synovial fibroblasts in vitro.
Keywords: rheumatoid arthritis; joint inflammation; cyclooxygenase; cytokine; inflammatory mediators
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an immune-mediated disease of the joints that is characterized by chronic inflammation and synovial hyperplasia that eventually lead to cartilage and bone destruction. Synovial fibroblasts are mesenchymal cells recognized as a key cell population in RA due to their hyperproliferative and hypersensitive properties in the inflammatory milieu and hyperproduction of both inflammatory cytokines and matrix-degrading enzymes. On the immune cell side, a wealth of evidence has shown that CD4+T-cells, especially IL-17 producing helper T (Th17) cells, play a prominent role, particularly in the initiation of systemic immune response in RA. However, it is still unclear how the local chronic inflammation in the joint is elicited by a systemic immune response. Recent studies have shed light on the importance of the interaction between immune and mesenchymal cells in joints including synovial fibroblasts. In particular, mesenchymal cells contribute to the Th17-mediated chronic inflammation in RA by promoting the migration of Th17 cells to the inflamed site and then the homeostatic proliferation and concomitant increase in IL-17 production. In addition, recent progress in osteoimmunology has provided new insight into the pathogenesis of the bone destruction which takes place in RA. Th17-related cytokines have been shown to enhance osteoclastogenesis, mainly via synovial fibroblasts. Thus, mesenchymal cells are a determinant of the development of RA that links the systemic immune response and the local disorder in the joints. In addition, the interaction of immune and mesenchymal cells plays a key role in both the chronic inflammation and bone destruction seen in RA. Elucidation of the precise events involved in this interaction will lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms by which chronic inflammation and bone destruction in joint results from a systemic immune response, and also will help provide a molecular basis for novel therapeutic strategies to treat RA.
CD4+T-cell; Th17 cell; synovial fibroblast; osteoclast; inflammation; bone destruction; rheumatoid arthritis
The aim was to characterize the expression of CCL19 and CCL21 in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) synovial tissue and to examine their regulation and pathogenic role in macrophages and RA synovial tissue fibroblasts.
Expression of CCL19 and CCL21 was demonstrated in RA and normal (NL) synovial tissues employing immunohistochemistry. CCL19 and CCL21 levels were quantified in fluids from osteoarthritis (OA), juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and RA using ELISA. Regulation of CCL19 and CCL21 expression was determined in RA peripheral blood in vitro differentiated macrophages as well as RA synovial tissue fibroblasts by real-time RT-PCR. CCL19 and CCL21 activated peripheral blood in vitro differentiated macrophages and RA synovial tissue fibroblasts were examined for proangiogenic factor production employing ELISA.
CCL19 and CCL21 were elevated in RA synovial tissue compared to NL controls. Levels of CCL19 and CCL21 were greatly increased in RA and PsA synovial fluid versus OA synovial fluid. In RA macrophages and fibroblasts, expression of CCL19 was increased by LPS, TNF-α and IL-1β stimulation. However, CCL21 expression was modulated by IL-1β in RA fibroblasts as well as TNF-α and RA synovial fluid in RA macrophages. CCL19 and CCL21 activation induced VEGF and Ang-1 production from RA synovial tissue fibroblasts and secretion of IL-8 and Ang-1 from macrophages.
We identify, for the first time, regulators of CCL19 and CCL21 in RA fibroblasts and RA peripheral blood in vitro differentiated macrophages and we document a novel role of CCL19/21 in RA angiogenesis.
CCL19; CCL21; RA synovial tissue fibroblast; macrophages and proangiogenic factors
Events that occur in rheumatoid arthritis synovial tissues are responsible for the signs and symptoms of joint inflammation and for the eventual destruction of articular and periarticular structures that lead to joint dysfunction and disability. The three most abundant cell populations in RA synovium are synovial macrophages (type A synoviocytes), synovial fibroblasts (type B synoviocytes) and infiltrating T lymphocytes. Other important cell populations include B lymphocytes, dendritic cells, plasma cells, mast cells and osteoclasts. Our current understanding of rheumatoid arthritis is moving beyond previous concepts that view this disease as the consequence of a specific and focused humoral or cellular autoimmune response to a single autoantigen. Rather, a new view of rheumatoid arthritis is emerging, which seeks to understand this disease as the product of pathologic cell–cell interactions occurring within a unique and defined environment, the synovium. T lymphocytes in rheumatoid arthritis synovium interact closely with dendritic cells, the most potent antigen-presenting cell population in the immune system. T cells also interact with monocytes and macrophages and cytokine-activated T cells may be, especially, suited to trigger production of the important cytokine TNFα by synovial macrophages. Recent evidence also suggests a potent bidirectional interaction between synovial T cells and synovial fibroblasts, which can lead to activation of both cell types. An important role for synovial B lymphocytes has been emphasized recently, both by experimental data and by results of clinical interventions. B cells in synovium can interact with fibroblasts as well as with other cells of the immune system and their potential role as antigen-presenting cells in the joint is as yet underexplored. Rheumatoid arthritis synovium may be one of the most striking examples of pathologic, organ-specific interactions between immune system cells and resident tissue cell populations. This view of rheumatoid arthritis also leads to the prediction that novel approaches to treatment will more logically target the intercellular communication systems that maintain such interactions, rather than attempt to ablate a single cell population.
T cells; B cells; Fibroblasts; Dendritic cells; Monocytes
A surprising feature of the inflammatory infiltrate in rheumatoid arthritis is the accumulation of neutrophils within synovial fluid and at the pannus cartilage boundary. Recent findings suggest that a distinct subset of IL-17-secreting T-helper cells (TH17 cells) plays a key role in connecting the adaptive and innate arms of the immune response and in regulating neutrophil homeostasis. We therefore tested the hypothesis that synovial fibroblasts bridge the biological responses that connect TH17 cells to neutrophils by producing neutrophil survival factors following their activation with IL-17.
IL-17-expressing cells in the rheumatoid synovium, and IL-17-expressing cells in the peripheral blood, and synovial fluid were examined by confocal microscopy and flow cytometry, respectively. Peripheral blood neutrophils were cocultured either with rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts (RASF) or with conditioned medium from RASF that had been pre-exposed to recombinant human IL-17, TNFα or a combination of the two cytokines. Neutrophils were harvested and stained with the vital mitochondrial dye 3,3'-dihexyloxacarbocyanine iodide before being enumerated by flow cytometry.
TH17-expressing CD4+ cells were found to accumulate within rheumatoid synovial tissue and in rheumatoid arthritis synovial fluid. RASF treated with IL-17 and TNFα (RASFIL-17/TNF) effectively doubled the functional lifespan of neutrophils in coculture. This was entirely due to soluble factors secreted from the fibroblasts. Specific depletion of granulocyte–macrophage colony-stimulating factor from RASFIL-17/TNF-conditioned medium demonstrated that this cytokine accounted for approximately one-half of the neutrophil survival activity. Inhibition of phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase and NF-κB pathways showed a requirement for both signalling pathways in RASFIL-17/TNF-mediated neutrophil rescue.
The increased number of neutrophils with an extended lifespan found in the rheumatoid synovial microenvironment is partly accounted for by IL-17 and TNFα activation of synovial fibroblasts. TH17-expressing T cells within the rheumatoid synovium are likely to contribute significantly to this effect.
Accumulating evidence implicates a central role for synovial T cells in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis, but the activation pathways that drive proliferation and effector function of these cells are not known. We have recently generated a novel monoclonal antibody against a rheumatoid synovial T cell line that recognizes an antigen termed UM4D4 (CDw60). This antigen is expressed on a minority of peripheral blood T cells, and represents the surface component of a distinct pathway of human T cell activation. The current studies were performed to examine the expression and function of UM4D4 on T cells obtained from synovial fluid and synovial membranes of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and other forms of inflammatory joint disease. The UM4D4 antigen is expressed at high surface density on about three-fourths of synovial fluid T cells and on a small subset of synovial fluid natural killer cells; in synovial tissue it is present on more than 90% of T cells in lymphoid aggregates, and on approximately 50% of T cells in stromal infiltrates In addition, UM4D4 is expressed in synovial tissue on a previously undescribed population of HLA-DR/DP-negative non-T cells with a dendritic morphology. Anti-UM4D4 was co-mitogenic for both RA and non-RA synovial fluid mononuclear cells, and induced IL-2 receptor expression. The UM4D4/CDw60 antigen may represent a functional activation pathway for synovial compartment T cells, which could play an important role in the pathogenesis of inflammatory arthritis.
Synovial fibroblasts share a number of phenotype markers with fibroblasts derived from bone marrow. In this study we investigated the role of matched fibroblasts obtained from 3 different sources (bone marrow, synovium, and skin) to test the hypothesis that synovial fibroblasts share similarities with bone marrow–derived fibroblasts in terms of their ability to support survival of T cells and neutrophils.
Matched synovial, bone marrow, and skin fibroblasts were established from 8 different patients with rheumatoid arthritis who were undergoing knee or hip surgery. Resting or activated fibroblasts were cocultured with either CD4 T cells or neutrophils, and the degree of leukocyte survival, apoptosis, and proliferation were measured.
Fibroblasts derived from all 3 sites supported increased survival of CD4 T cells, mediated principally by interferon-β. However, synovial and bone marrow fibroblasts shared an enhanced site-specific ability to maintain CD4 T cell survival in the absence of proliferation, an effect that was independent of fibroblast activation or proliferation but required direct T cell–fibroblast cell contact. In contrast, fibroblast-mediated neutrophil survival was less efficient, being independent of the site of origin of the fibroblast but dependent on prior fibroblast activation, and mediated solely by soluble factors, principally granulocyte–macrophage colony-stimulating factor.
These results suggest an important functional role for fibroblasts in the differential accumulation of leukocyte subsets in a variety of tissue microenvironments. The findings also provide a potential explanation for site-specific differences in the pattern of T cell and neutrophil accumulation observed in chronic inflammatory diseases.
Hyperplasia of synovial fibroblasts, infiltration with inflammatory cytokines, and tissue hypoxia are the major characteristics of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Interleukin 33 (IL-33) is a newly identified inflammatory cytokine exacerbating the disease severity of RA. Hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) showed increased expression in RA synovium and could regulate a number of inflammatory cytokine productions. Nevertheless, its correlation with IL-33 remains largely unknown. Here, we showed that elevated levels of IL-33 were demonstrated in RA patient synovial fluids, with upregulated expression of HIF-1α and IL-33 in the synovial fibroblasts. Knocking down HIF-1α compromised IL-33 expression in rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts (RASF), while enforcing HIF-1α expression in RASF substantially upregulated IL-33 levels. HIF-1α promoted the activation of the signalling pathways controlling IL-33 production, particularly the p38 and ERK pathways. Moreover, we showed for the first time that IL-33 in turn could induce more HIF-1α expression in RASF, thus forming a HIF-1α/IL-33 regulatory circuit that would perpetuate the inflammatory process in RA. Targeting this pathological pathway and HIF-1α may provide new therapeutic strategies for overcoming the persistent and chronic inflammatory disease.
This study was undertaken to identify the intracellular signaling pathway involved in induction of macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) in human rheumatoid arthritis (RA) synovial fibroblasts.
Human RA synovial fibroblasts were treated with concanavalin A (ConA), various cytokines, and inhibitors of signal transduction molecules. The production of MIF by synovial fibroblasts was measured in culture supernatants by ELISA. The expression of MIF mRNA was determined using reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and real-time PCR. Phosphorylation of p38 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase in synovial fibroblasts was confirmed using Western blotting. The expression of MIF and p38 MAP kinase in RA synovium was determined using dual immunohistochemistry.
The production of MIF by RA synovial fibroblasts increased in a dose-dependent manner after ConA stimulation. MIF was also induced by interferon-γ, CD40 ligand, interleukin-15, interleukin-1β, tumor necrosis factor-α, and transforming growth factor-β. The production of MIF by RA synovial fibroblasts was significantly reduced after inhibition of p38 MAP kinase. The expression of MIF and p38 MAP kinase was upregulated in the RA synovium compared with the osteoarthritis synovium.
These results suggest that MIF production was induced through a p38 MAP-kinase-dependent pathway in RA synovial fibroblasts.
Macrophage, migration-inhibitory factors; Arthritis rheumatoid; Synovial fibroblast; p38 mitogen-activated protein kinases
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory and destructive disease of the joint. The synovial lining consists of two main types of cells: synovial fibroblasts and macrophages. The macrophage-derived cytokine TNFα stimulates RA synovial fibroblasts to proliferate and produce growth factors, chemokines, proteinases and adhesion molecules, making them key players in the RA disease process. If proteins are not correctly folded, cellular stress occurs that can be relieved in part by increased degradation of the aberrant proteins by the proteasome or autophagy. We hypothesized that the activity of the protein degradation pathways would be increased in response to TNFα stimulation in RA synovial fibroblasts compared with control fibroblasts.
Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress markers were examined in synovial fibroblasts by immunoblotting and PCR. Use of the autophagy and proteasome protein degradation pathways in response to TNFα stimulation was determined using a combination of experiments involving chemical inhibition of the autophagy or proteasome pathways followed by immunoblotting for the autophagy marker LC3, measurement of proteasome activity and long-lived protein degradation, and determination of cellular viability.
RA synovial fibroblasts are under acute ER stress, and the stress is increased in the presence of TNFα. Autophagy is the main pathway used to relieve the ER stress in unstimulated fibroblasts, and both autophagy and the proteasome are more active in RA synovial fibroblasts compared with control fibroblasts. In response to TNFα, the autophagy pathway but not the proteasome is consistently stimulated, yet there is an increased dependence on the proteasome for cell viability. If autophagy is blocked in the presence of TNFα, an increase in proteasome activity occurs in RA synovial fibroblasts but not in control cells.
TNFα stimulation of synovial fibroblasts results in increased expression of ER stress markers. Survival of synovial fibroblasts is dependent on continuous removal of proteins by both the lysosome/autophagy and ubiquitin/proteasome protein degradation pathways. Both pathways are more active in RA synovial fibroblasts compared with control fibroblasts. These results may provide a better understanding of the mechanism of TNFα on prolonging the survival of synovial fibroblasts in RA tissue.
DNA and RNA were extracted from synovial membranes, synovial fibroblast cells, peripheral blood lymphocytes, and synovial fibroblast cells strains derived from patients with rheumatoid arthritis and other joint conditions. They were hybridised after immobilisation on nitrocellulose filters with iodinated viral nucleic acids extracted from measles, rubella virus, SV--40, and a retrovirus, RD--114. In addition, in situ-hybridisation was carried out on sections of synovial membranes by means of iodinated measles and rubella virus RNA. In no case did any hybridisation occur. Positive control systems included synovial fibroblast strains transformed with SV--40, LLC--MK2 cells chronically infected with rubella virus and RD cells infected with RD--114. It was concluded tht the synovial cells did not contain viral genomes of measles, rubella virus, SV--40, or RD--114, or at least at a level equivalent to the positive control cells.
Interleukin-34 (IL-34) is a new cytokine implicated in macrophage differentiation and osteoclastogenesis. The present study assessed the IL-34 expression in the tissue of patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
Immunohistochemistry was performed in synovial biopsy from patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (n=20), osteoarthritis (n=3) or other inflammatory arthritis (n=4). IL-34 was detected in the synovial fluid by ELISA and its mRNA expression was studied by qPCR in rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts after stimulation by TNF-α and IL-1β. Wild type, jnk1−/−-jnk2−/− and nemo−/− murine fibroblasts and pharmacological inhibitions were used to determine the involvement of NFκB and JNK in that effect.
IL-34 was expressed in 24/27 biopsies with 3 samples from RA patients being negative. We found a significant association between IL-34 expression and the synovitis severity. Levels of IL-34 and the total leukocyte count in the synovial fluid were correlated. TNF-α and IL-1β stimulated Il-34 expression by the synovial fibroblasts in a dose/time dependant manner through the NFκB and JUNK pathway.
This work identify for the first time IL-34 expression in the synovial tissue of arthritic patients. This cytokine, as a downstream effector of TNF-α and IL-1β, may contribute to the inflammation and bone erosions in RA.
Adult; Aged; Aged, 80 and over; Arthritis, Rheumatoid; complications; genetics; metabolism; Cells, Cultured; Dose-Response Relationship, Drug; Female; Fibroblasts; drug effects; metabolism; Gene Expression Regulation; drug effects; Humans; Interleukin-1beta; pharmacology; Interleukins; genetics; metabolism; MAP Kinase Signaling System; physiology; Male; Middle Aged; NF-kappa B; physiology; Osteoarthritis; genetics; metabolism; RNA, Messenger; genetics; Synovial Fluid; metabolism; Synovitis; etiology; genetics; metabolism; Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha; pharmacology; Interleukin-34; Arthritis; Rheumatoid Arthritis; Osteoarthritis; inflammation
The metastasis‐associated protein S100A4 promotes the progression of cancer by regulating the remodelling of the extracellular matrix. The expression of S100A4 in vivo is shown and the functional role of S100A4 in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritisis is explored. The expression of S100A4 in rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and normal synovial tissues was determined by immunohistochemistry. The expression of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) mRNA was measured in rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis synovial fibroblasts treated and untreated with S100A4 oligomer by real‐time polymerase chain reaction. Levels of released MMPs were confirmed by ELISA in cell culture supernatants. S100A4 protein was expressed in rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis synovial tissues, in contrast with normal synovium. S100A4 up regulated MMP‐3 mRNA in rheumatoid arthritis synovial fluid, with a peak after 6 h. This resulted in release of MMP‐3 protein. MMP‐1, MMP‐9 and MMP‐13 mRNA were also up regulated in synovial fluid, but with different kinetics. MMP‐14 mRNA showed no change. Thus, S100A4 protein is expressed in synovial tissues of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis in contrast with healthy people. It induces the expression and release of MMP‐3 and other MMPs from synovial fluid. The data suggest that S100A4‐producing cells could be involved in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, including pannus formation and joint destruction.