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1.  Acute-phase serum amyloid A production by rheumatoid arthritis synovial tissue 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(2):142-144.
Acute-phase serum amyloid A (A-SAA) is a major component of the acute-phase response. A sustained acute-phase response in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is associated with increased joint damage. A-SAA mRNA expression was confirmed in all samples obtained from patients with RA, but not in normal synovium. A-SAA mRNA expression was also demonstrated in cultured RA synoviocytes. A-SAA protein was identified in the supernatants of primary synoviocyte cultures, and its expression colocalized with sites of macrophage accumulation and with some vascular endothelial cells. It is concluded that A-SAA is produced by inflamed RA synovial tissue. The known association between the acute-phase response and progressive joint damage may be the direct result of synovial A-SAA-induced effects on cartilage degradation.
Serum amyloid A (SAA) is the circulating precursor of amyloid A protein, the fibrillar component of amyloid deposits. In humans, four SAA genes have been described. Two genes (SAA1 and SAA2) encode A-SAA and are coordinately induced in response to inflammation. SAA1 and SAA2 are 95% homologous in both coding and noncoding regions. SAA3 is a pseudogene. SAA4 encodes constitutive SAA and is minimally inducible. A-SAA increases dramatically during acute inflammation and may reach levels that are 1000-fold greater than normal. A-SAA is mainly synthesized in the liver, but extrahepatic production has been demonstrated in many species, including humans. A-SAA mRNA is expressed in RA synoviocytes and in monocyte/macrophage cell lines such as THP-1 cells, in endothelial cells and in smooth muscle cells of atherosclerotic lesions. A-SAA has also been localized to a wide range of histologically normal tissues, including breast, stomach, intestine, pancreas, kidney, lung, tonsil, thyroid, pituitary, placenta, skin and brain.
To identify the cell types that produce A-SAA mRNA and protein, and their location in RA synovium.
Materials and methods:
Rheumatoid synovial tissue was obtained from eight patients undergoing arthroscopic biopsy and at joint replacement surgery. Total RNA was analyzed by reverse transcription (RT) polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for A-SAA mRNA. PCR products generated were confirmed by Southern blot analysis using human A-SAA cDNA. Localization of A-SAA production was examined by immunohistochemistry using a rabbit antihuman A-SAA polyclonal antibody. PrimaryRA synoviocytes were cultured to examine endogenous A-SAA mRNA expression and protein production.
A-SAA mRNA expression was detected using RT-PCR in all eight synovial tissue samples studied. Figure 1 demonstrates RT-PCR products generated using synovial tissue from three representative RA patients. Analysis of RA synovial tissue revealed differences in A-SAA mRNA levels between individual RA patients.
In order to identify the cells that expressed A-SAA mRNA in RA synovial tissue, we analyzed primary human synoviocytes (n = 2). RT-PCR analysis revealed A-SAA mRNA expression in primary RA synoviocytes (n = 2; Fig. 2). The endogenous A-SAA mRNA levels detected in individual primary RA synoviocytes varied between patients. These findings are consistent with A-SAA expression in RA synovial tissue (Fig. 1). Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) levels were relatively similar in the RA synoviocytes examined (Fig. 2). A-SAA protein in the supernatants of primary synoviocyte cultures from four RA patients was measured using ELISA. Mean values of a control and four RA samples were 77.85, 162.5, 249.8, 321.5 and 339.04 μg/l A-SAA, respectively, confirming the production of A-SAA protein by the primary RA synoviocytes. Immunohistochemical analysis was performed to localize sites of A-SAA production in RA synovial tissue. Positive staining was present in both the lining and sublining layers of all eight RA tissues examined (Fig. 3a). Staining was intense and most prominent in the cells closest to the surface of the synovial lining layer. Positively stained cells were evident in the perivascular areas of the sublining layer. In serial sections stained with anti-CD68 monoclonal antibody, positive staining of macrophages appeared to colocalize with A-SAA-positive cells (Fig. 3b). Immunohistochemical studies of cultured primary RA synoviocytes confirmed specific cytoplasmic A-SAA expression in these cells. The specificity of the staining was confirmed by the absence of staining found on serial sections and synoviocyte cells treated with IgG (Fig. 3c).
This study demonstrates that A-SAA mRNA is expressed in several cell populations infiltrating RA synovial tissue. A-SAA mRNA expression was observed in all eight unseparated RA tissue samples studied. A-SAA mRNA expression and protein production was demonstrated in primary cultures of purified RA synoviocytes. Using immunohistochemical techniques, A-SAA protein appeared to colocalize with both lining layer and sublining layer synoviocytes, macrophages and some endothelial cells. The detection of A-SAA protein in culture media supernatants harvested from unstimulated synoviocytes confirms endogenous A-SAA production, and is consistent with A-SAA mRNA expression and translation by the same cells. Moreover, the demonstration of A-SAA protein in RA synovial tissue, RA cultured synoviocytes, macrophages and endothelial cells is consistent with previous studies that demonstrated A-SAA production by a variety of human cell populations.
The RA synovial lining layer is composed of activated macrophages and fibroblast-like synoviocytes. The macrophage is the predominant cell type and it has been shown to accumulate preferentially in the surface of the lining layer and in the perivascular areas of the sublining layer. Nevertheless, our observations strongly suggest that A-SAA is produced not only by synoviocytes, but also by synovial tissue macrophage populations. Local A-SAA protein production by vascular endothelial cells was detected in some, but not all, of the tissues examined. The reason for the variability in vascular A-SAA staining is unknown, but may be due to differences in endothelial cell activation, events related to angiogenesis or the intensity of local inflammation.
The value of measuring serum A-SAA levels as a reliable surrogate marker of inflammation has been demonstrated for several diseases including RA, juvenile chronic arthritis, psoriatic arthropathy, ankylosing spondylitis, Behçet's disease, reactive arthritis and Crohn's disease. It has been suggested that serum A-SAA levels may represent the most sensitive measurement of the acute-phase reaction. In RA, A-SAA levels provide the strongest correlations with clinical measurements of disease activity, and changes in serum levels best reflect the clinical course.
A number of biologic activities have been described for A-SAA, including several that are relevant to the understanding of inflammatory and tissue-degrading mechanisms in human arthritis. A-SAA induces migration, adhesion and tissue infiltration of circulating monocytes and polymorphonuclear leukocytes. In addition, human A-SAA can induce interleukin-1β, interleukin-1 receptor antagonist and soluble type II tumour necrosis factor receptor production by a monocyte cell line. Moreover, A-SAA can stimulate the production of cartilage-degrading proteases by both human and rabbit synoviocytes. The effects of A-SAA on protease production are interesting, because in RA a sustained acute-phase reaction has been strongly associated with progressive joint damage. The known association between the acute-phase response and progressive joint damage may be the direct result of synovial A-SAA-induced effects on cartilage degradation.
In contrast to noninflamed synovium, A-SAA mRNA expression was identified in all RA tissues examined. A-SAA appeared to be produced by synovial tissue synoviocytes, macrophages and endothelial cells. The observation of A-SAA mRNA expression in cultured RA synoviocytes and human RA synovial tissue confirms and extends recently published findings that demonstrated A-SAA mRNA expression in stimulated RA synoviocytes, but not in unstimulated RA synoviocytes.
PMCID: PMC17807  PMID: 11062604
acute-phase response; rheumatoid arthritis; serum amyloid A; synovial tissue
2.  Cytokine, activation marker, and chemokine receptor expression by individual CD4+ memory T cells in rheumatoid arthritis synovium 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(5):415-423.
IL-10, IL-13, IFN-γ, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, LT-α, CD154, and TNF-related activation-induced cytokine (TRANCE) were expressed by 2-20% of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) synovial tissue CD4+ memory T cells, whereas CD4+ cells that produced IL-2, IL-4, or IL-6 were not detected. Expression of none of these molecules by individual CD4+ cells correlated with the exception of TRANCE and IL-10, and TRANCE and TNF-α . A correlation between expression of IL-10 and CCR7, LT-α and CCR6, IFN-γ and CCR5, and TRANCE and CXCR4 was also detected.
In RA large numbers of CD4+ memory T cells infiltrate the inflamed synovium [1,2,3]. The accumulated CD4+ memory T cells in the RA synovium appear to be activated, because they express cytokines and activation markers [4,5,6,7,8]. Expressed cytokines and activation markers should play important roles in the pathogenesis of RA. However, the frequency of cytokine expression by RA synovial CD4+ T cells has not been analyzed accurately. Recently, the roles of chemokine and chemokine receptor interactions in T-cell migration have been intensively examined. Interactions of chemokine and chemokine receptors might therefore be important in the accumulation of the CD4+ T cells in the RA synovium. Accordingly, correlation of cytokine and chemokine receptor expression might be important in delineating the function and potential means of accumulation of individual CD4+ memory T cells in the RA synovium.
In the present study we analyzed cytokine (IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, IL-10, IL-13, IFN-γ , TNF-α , and LT-α ), activation marker (CD154 [CD40 ligand] and TRANCE - also called receptor activator of nuclear factor κ B ligand [RANKL] or osteoclast differentiation factor [ODF]), and chemokine receptor expression by individual CD4+ memory T cells isolated from rheumatoid synovium and blood. To achieve this we employed a single-cell reverse transcription (RT) polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique. This technique made it possible to correlate mRNAs expressed by individual CD4+ memory T cells in the synovium and blood.
Materials and method:
Synovial tissues from three RA patients and peripheral blood mononuclear cells from two RA patients and a normal donor were analyzed.
Cytokine (IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, IL-10, IL-13, IFN-γ, TNF-α, and LT-α ) and activation marker (CD154 and TRANCE) expression by individual CD4+CD45RO+ T cells from RA synovium or blood were analyzed using a single-cell RT-PCR. In brief, single CD4+CD45RO+T cells was sorted into each well of a 96-well PCR plate using a flow cytometer. cDNA from individual cells was prepared, and then the cDNA was nonspecifically amplified. The product was then amplified by PCR using gene-specific primers to analyze cytokine and activation marker expression.
Cytokine and activation marker expression by individual CD4+CD45RO+T cells from RA synovial tissues was analyzed using a single-cell RT-PCR method. Expression of mRNAs was analyzed in 152 individual synovial tissue CD4+CD45RO+ T cells sorted from three RA patients in which T-cell receptor (TCR) Cβ mRNA was detected. Frequencies of CD4+ memory T cells expressing cytokine and activation marker mRNA in RA synovium are shown in Table 1. IL-2, IL-4, and IL-6 were not expressed by the synovial tissue CD4+CD45RO+ T cells, whereas 2-20% of cells expressed the other cytokine mRNAs.
Few correlations between cytokine and activation marker mRNAs were observed. Notably, no cells contained both IFN-γ and LT-α mRNAs, cytokines that are thought to define the T-helper (Th)1 phenotype [9]. However, the frequency of TRANCE-positive cells in IL-10-positive cells was significantly higher than that in IL-10-negative cells (Table 2). Moreover, the frequency of TRANCE-positive cells in TNF-α-positive cells was also significantly higher than that in TNF-α-negative cells.
Varying percentages of CD4+ memory T cells expressed CC and CXC chemokine receptors. The frequency of CCR5-positive cells in IFN-γ-positive cells was significantly higher than that in IFN-γ-negative cells, whereas the frequency of CCR6-positive cells in LT-α-positive cells was significantly higher than that in LT-α-negative cells, and the frequency of CCR7-positive cells in IL-10-positive cells was significantly higher than that in IL-10-negative cells. Furthermore, the frequency of CXCR4-positive cells in TRANCE-positive cells was significantly higher than that in TRANCE-negative cells.
Expression of cytokine and activation marker mRNAs was also analyzed in 48 individual peripheral blood CD4+CD45RO+ T cells from two RA patients. IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, and LT-α were not expressed by the peripheral CD4+CD45RO+ T cells, whereas 4-17% of cells expressed the other markers. The most striking difference between synovial tissue and peripheral blood CD4+ memory T cells was the presence of LT-α expression in the former, but not in the latter. IFN-γ and TNF-α were not expressed by normal peripheral blood CD4+ memory T cells, although they were expressed by RA peripheral blood CD4+ memory T cells.
The present study employed a single-cell PCR technology to analyze cytokine expression by unstimulated RA synovial tissue CD4+ memory T cells immediately after isolation, without in vitro manipulation. The results confirm the Th1 nature of rheumatoid inflammation. It is noteworthy that no individual synovial CD4+ memory T cells expressed both IFN-γ and LT-α mRNAs, even though these are the prototypic Th1 cytokines [9]. These results imply that, in the synovium, regulation of IFN-γ and LT-α must vary in individual cells, even though both Th1 cytokines can be produced.
The present data showed that CCR5 expression correlated with IFN-γ but not with LT-α expression by synovial CD4+ memory T cells. It has been reported that CCR5 expression is upregulated in RA synovial fluid and synovial tissue T cells [10,11,12] and that CCR5 Δ 32 deletion may have an influence on clinical manifestations of RA [13], suggesting that CCR5 might play an important role in RA. Recently, it has been claimed that CCR5 was preferentially expressed by Th1 cell lines [14,15]. However, in the present study CCR5 was not expressed by all IFN-γ-expressing cells. Moreover, CCR5 expression did not correlate with expression of LT-α by RA synovial CD4+ memory T cells. Therefore, it is unclear whether CCR5 is a marker of Th1 cells in RA synovium.
IL-10 expression correlated with CCR7 expression by RA synovial CD4+ memory T cells. Recently, it was reported [16] that in the blood CCR7+CD4+ memory T cells express lymph-node homing receptors and lack immediate effector function, but efficiently stimulate dendritic cells. These cells may play a unique role in the synovium as opposed to in the blood. By producing IL-10, they might have an immunoregulatory function. In addition, IL-10 expression also correlated with expression of TRANCE. Although it is possible that IL-10 produced by these cells inhibited T-cell activation in the synovium, TRANCE expressed by these same cells might function to activate dendritic cells and indirectly stimulate T cells, mediating inflammation in the synovium. These results imply that individual T cells in the synovium might have different, and sometimes opposite functional activities.
LT-α expression correlated with CCR6 expression by synovial CD4+ memory T cells. It has been reported that CCR6 is expressed by resting peripheral memory T cells [17], whereas LT-α expression is associated with the presence of lymphocytic aggregates in synovial tissue [7]. The correlation between the expression of these two markers therefore suggests the possibility that CCR6 may play a role in the development of aggregates of CD4+ T cells that are characteristically found in rheumatoid synovium.
TRANCE is known to be expressed by activated T cells, and can stimulate dendritic cells and osteoclasts [18]. Of note, TRANCE-mediated activation of osteoclasts has recently been shown [19] to play an important role in the damage to bone that is found in experimental models of inflammatory arthritis. It is therefore of interest that TRANCE was expressed by 3-16% of the RA synovial CD4+ memory T cells. Of note, 67% of TNF-α-positive cells expressed TRANCE. In concert, TNF-α and TRANCE expressed by this subset of CD4+ memory T cells might make them particularly important in mediating the bony erosions that are characteristic of RA.
Interestingly, there was a correlation between expression of IFN-γ and IL-10 in RA peripheral blood CD4+ memory T cells. In RA peripheral blood, CD154 expression correlated with that of CXCR3 by CD4+ memory T cells. It has been claimed [15] that CXCR3 is preferentially expressed by in vitro generated Th1 cells. However, in the present study CXCR3 did not correlate with IFN-γ expression. Although IFN-γ and TNF-α mRNAs were expressed in vivo by peripheral blood CD4+ T cells from RA patients, LT-α mRNA was not detected, whereas IFN-γ , TNF-α , and LT-α were not detected in samples from healthy donors. These findings indicate that RA peripheral blood CD4+ memory T cells are stimulated in vivo, although they do not express LT-α mRNA. The present studies indicate that the frequencies of CD4+ memory T cells that expressed IFN-γ in the blood and in the synovium are comparable. These results imply that activated CD4+ memory T cells migrate between blood and synovium, although the direction of the trafficking is unknown. The presence of LT-α mRNA in synovium, but not in blood, indicates that CD4+ memory cells are further activated in the synovium, and that these activated CD4+ memory T cells are retained in the synovium until LT-α mRNA decreases.
In conclusion, CD4+ memory T cells are biased toward Th1 cells in RA synovium and peripheral blood. In the synovium, IFN-γ and LT-α were produced by individual cells, whereas in the rheumatoid blood no LT-α-producing cells were detected. Furthermore, there were modest correlations between individual cells that expressed particular cytokines, such as IL-10, and certain chemokine receptor mRNAs.
PMCID: PMC17818  PMID: 11056676
chemokine receptor; cytokine; rheumatoid arthritis; T lymphocyte
3.  Characterization of histopathology and gene-expression profiles of synovitis in early rheumatoid arthritis using targeted biopsy specimens 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2005;7(4):R825-R836.
The disease category of early rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has been limited with respect to clinical criteria. Pathological manifestations of synovitis in patients whose disease is clinically classified as early RA seem to be heterogeneous, with regular variations. To clarify the relation between the molecular and histopathological features of the synovitis, we analyzed gene-expression profiles in the synovial lining tissues to correlate them with histopathological features. Synovial tissues were obtained from knee joints of 12 patients with early RA by targeted biopsy under arthroscopy. Surgical specimens of long-standing RA (from four patients) were examined as positive controls. Each histopathological parameter characteristic of rheumatoid synovitis in synovial tissues was scored under light microscopy. Total RNAs from synovial lining tissues were obtained from the specimens selected by laser capture microdissection and the mRNAs were amplified by bacteriophage T7 RNA polymerase. Their cDNAs were analyzed in a cDNA microarray with 23,040 cDNAs, and the levels of gene expression in multilayered lining tissues, compared with those of normal-like lining tissues in specimens from the same person, were determined to estimate gene-expression profiles characteristic of the synovial proliferative lesions in each case. Based on cluster analysis of all cases, gene-expression profiles in the lesions in early RA fell into two groups. The groups had different expression levels of genes critical for proliferative inflammation, including those encoding cytokines, adhesion molecules, and extracellular matrices. One group resembled synovitis in long-standing RA and had high scores for some histopathological features – involving accumulations of lymphocytes and plasma cells – but not for other features. Possible differences in the histopathogenesis and prognosis of synovitis between the two groups are discussed in relation to the candidate genes and histopathology.
PMCID: PMC1175033  PMID: 15987484
4.  Apoptosis and p53 expression in rat adjuvant arthritis 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(3):229-235.
The kinetics of apoptosis and the apoptosis-regulating gene p53 in adjuvant arthritis (AA) were investigated to assess the value of the AA rat model for testing apoptosis-inducing therapies. Very few terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate (dUTP) nick end-labeling (TUNEL)-positive cells were detected during the early phases of AA, but on day 23 (chronic arthritis) the percentage of TUNEL-positive cells was significantly increased. Expression of p53 in synovial tissue gradually increased from days 5-23, which was markedly higher than p53 levels in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) synovium. Significant apoptosis only occurs late in rat AA and is concordant with marked p53 overexpression, making it useful model for testing proapoptotic therapies, but rat AA is not the best model for p53 gene therapy because dramatic p53 overexpression occurs in the latter stages of the disease.
RA is a chronic inflammatory disorder that is characterized by inflammation and proliferation of synovial tissue. The amount of DNA fragmentation is significantly increased in rheumatoid synovium. Only low numbers of apoptotic cells are present in rheumatoid synovial tissue, however. The proportion of cells with DNA strand breaks is so great that this disparity suggests impaired apoptosis. Therefore, the development of novel therapeutic strategies that are aimed at inducing apoptosis in rheumatoid synovial tissue is an attractive goal.
Although animal models for arthritis only approximate RA, they provide a useful test system for the evaluation of apoptosis-inducing therapies. AA in rats is among the most commonly used animal models for RA. For the interpretation of such studies, it is essential to characterize the extent to which apoptosis occurs during the natural course of the disease. Therefore, we evaluated the number of apoptotic cells and the expression of p53 in various phases of AA.
Materials and methods:
In order to generate the AA rat model, Lewis rats were immunized with Mycobacterium tuberculosis in mineral oil on day 0. Paw swelling usually started around day 10. For the temporal analysis rats were sacrificed on days 0, 5 (prearthritis), 11 (onset of arthritis), 17 (accelerating arthritis), or 23 (chronic arthritis).
For the detection of apoptotic cells, the hind paws were harvested on days 0(n=6),5 (n=6), 11 (n=6), 17 (n=6), or 23 (n=4). The right ankle joints were fixed in formalin, decalcified in ethylenediaminetetra-acetic acid, embedded in paraffin, and sectioned. The TUNEL method was applied. The percentage of TUNEL-positive cells of the total inflammatory cell infiltrate was noted.
For Western blot analysis, hind paws were harvested on days 0 (n=2), 5 (n=3), 11 (n=4), 17 (n=4), or 23 (n=4). In addition, hind paws of normal rats (n=2) were studied. The right ankle joints were snap frozen and pulverized. Synovial tissue was also obtained by arthroscopy of three patients with longstanding (>5 years) RA. After protein extraction in lysis buffer, equal amounts of protein samples from lysates were pooled and examined by Western bolt analysis using anti-p53 monoclonal antibody D07, which recognizes wild-type and mutant p53 from rodents and humans.
For immunohistochemical analysis, six rats were sacrificed on day 23 after immunization and synovial tissue of the right ankle joints was snap frozen and evaluated by immunohistochemistry using anti-p53-pan. The sections were evaluated semi-quantitatively using a 0-4 scale.
The kruskal-Wallis test for several group means was used to compare the percentage of TUNEL-positive cells at different time points.
The percentages of TUNEL-positive cells were strongly dependent on the stage of the disease. Very few TUNEL-positive cells were detected in normal rats or in the early phases of AA; the number of TUNEL-positive cells was 1% or less of the total cell infiltrate, including neutrophils, from days 0-17 (Table 1). On day 23, however, the percentage of TUNEL-positive cells was significantly increased [15.8±5.1% (mean ± standard error of the mean); P=0.01]. TUNEL-positive cells were observed in the intimal lining layer and synovial sublining of the invasive front, as well as in the articular cartilage (Fig. 1).
Subsequently, we examined expression of the tumor suppressor gene p53, because this is a key regulator of apoptosis. Expression of p53 in pooled rat AA joint extracts gradually increased from day 0 (6 arbitrary units) to day 23 (173 arbitrary units), which was markedly higher than p53 levels in RA synovium (32 arbitrary units; Table 1). Overexpression of p53 protein on day 23 was confirmed by immunohistochemistry in a separate experiment in six rats with AA. Overexpression of p53 was observed in the intimal lining layer and synovial sublining in all rats on day 23. In all cases a semiquantitative score of 4 was assigned, indicating that 51% or more of the cells were positive, whereas control sections were negative.
The results presented here reveal that the number of TUNEL-positive cells remained very low until chronic arthritis developed. This indicates that, although there was sufficient DNA damage to cause an increment in p53 expression in the early phases, DNA strand breaks that can be detected by TUNEL assays only occurred in chronic AA. The observation that TUNEL-positive cells were nearly absent in early AA clearly indicates that only very few cells were undergoing programmed cell death. This is an important observation, which makes it possible to study the effects of apoptosis-inducing therapies in situ in early and accelerating AA. An effective therapy would obviously increase the number of TUNEL-positive cells.
There is already some overexpression of p53 in the preclinical phase and during the onset of the arthritis, with an additional increment in p53 expression during accelerating and chronic arthritis. Presumably, this is wild-type p53, because the disease duration is likely too short to allow for the development of p53 mutations. Transcription of p53 is probably increased in response to the toxic environment of the inflamed joint. The increased expression of p53 in the joints of rats with chronic AA was even greater than that observed in synovial tissue of RA patients with long-standing disease.
Overexpression of p53 and increased numbers of apoptotic cells did not occur simultaneously in this model; rather p53 overexpression preceded increased apoptosis. Activation of p53 leads to induction of cell growth arrest, allowing time for DNA repair. It appears that DNA damage is only extensive enough to induce apoptosis in the latter stages of AA. Factors other than p53 may also play an important role in the actual induction of apoptosis
Taken together, significant apoptosis only occurs late in AA and it follows marked p53 overexpression, making it a useful model for testing proapoptotic therapies. AA is not the best model for p53 gene therapy, however, because dramatic p53 overexpression occurs in the latter stages of the disease.
PMCID: PMC17810  PMID: 11056668
adjuvant arthritis; apoptosis; p53; rheumatoid arthritis
5.  Ectopic Lymphoid Structures Support Ongoing Production of Class-Switched Autoantibodies in Rheumatoid Synovium 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(1):e1.
Follicular structures resembling germinal centres (GCs) that are characterized by follicular dendritic cell (FDC) networks have long been recognized in chronically inflamed tissues in autoimmune diseases, including the synovium of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, it is debated whether these ectopic structures promote autoimmunity and chronic inflammation driving the production of pathogenic autoantibodies. Anti-citrullinated protein/peptide antibodies (ACPA) are highly specific markers of RA, predict a poor prognosis, and have been suggested to be pathogenic. Therefore, the main study objectives were to determine whether ectopic lymphoid structures in RA synovium: (i) express activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID), the enzyme required for somatic hypermutation and class-switch recombination (CSR) of Ig genes; (ii) support ongoing CSR and ACPA production; and (iii) remain functional in a RA/severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) chimera model devoid of new immune cell influx into the synovium.
Methods and Findings
Using immunohistochemistry (IHC) and quantitative Taqman real-time PCR (QT-PCR) in synovial tissue from 55 patients with RA, we demonstrated that FDC+ structures invariably expressed AID with a distribution resembling secondary lymphoid organs. Further, AID+/CD21+ follicular structures were surrounded by ACPA+/CD138+ plasma cells, as demonstrated by immune reactivity to citrullinated fibrinogen. Moreover, we identified a novel subset of synovial AID+/CD20+ B cells outside GCs resembling interfollicular large B cells. In order to gain direct functional evidence that AID+ structures support CSR and in situ manufacturing of class-switched ACPA, 34 SCID mice were transplanted with RA synovium and humanely killed at 4 wk for harvesting of transplants and sera. Persistent expression of AID and Iγ-Cμ circular transcripts (identifying ongoing IgM-IgG class-switching) was observed in synovial grafts expressing FDCs/CD21L. Furthermore, synovial mRNA levels of AID were closely associated with circulating human IgG ACPA in mouse sera. Finally, the survival and proliferation of functional B cell niches was associated with persistent overexpression of genes regulating ectopic lymphoneogenesis.
Our demonstration that FDC+ follicular units invariably express AID and are surrounded by ACPA-producing plasma cells provides strong evidence that ectopic lymphoid structures in the RA synovium are functional and support autoantibody production. This concept is further confirmed by evidence of sustained AID expression, B cell proliferation, ongoing CSR, and production of human IgG ACPA from GC+ synovial tissue transplanted into SCID mice, independently of new B cell influx from the systemic circulation. These data identify AID as a potential therapeutic target in RA and suggest that survival of functional synovial B cell niches may profoundly influence chronic inflammation, autoimmunity, and response to B cell–depleting therapies.
Costantino Pitzalis and colleagues show that lymphoid structures in synovial tissue of patients with rheumatoid arthritis support production of anti-citrullinated peptide antibodies, which continues following transplantation into SCID mice.
Editors' Summary
More than 1 million people in the United States have rheumatoid arthritis, an “autoimmune” condition that affects the joints. Normally, the immune system provides protection against infection by responding to foreign antigens (molecules that are unique to invading organisms) while ignoring self-antigens present in the body's own tissues. In autoimmune diseases, this ability to discriminate between self and non-self fails for unknown reasons and the immune system begins to attack human tissues. In rheumatoid arthritis, the lining of the joints (the synovium) is attacked, it becomes inflamed and thickened, and chemicals are released that damage all the tissues in the joint. Eventually, the joint may become so scarred that movement is no longer possible. Rheumatoid arthritis usually starts in the small joints in the hands and feet, but larger joints and other tissues (including the heart and blood vessels) can be affected. Its symptoms, which tend to fluctuate, include early morning joint pain, swelling, and stiffness, and feeling generally unwell. Although the disease is not always easy to diagnose, the immune systems of many people with rheumatoid arthritis make “anti-citrullinated protein/peptide antibodies” (ACPA). These “autoantibodies” (which some experts believe can contribute to the joint damage in rheumatoid arthritis) recognize self-proteins that contain the unusual amino acid citrulline, and their detection on blood tests can help make the diagnosis. Although there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, the recently developed biologic drugs, often used together with the more traditional disease-modifying therapies, are able to halt its progression by specifically blocking the chemicals that cause joint damage. Painkillers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can reduce its symptoms, and badly damaged joints can sometimes be surgically replaced.
Why Was This Study Done?
Before scientists can develop a cure for rheumatoid arthritis, they need to know how and why autoantibodies are made that attack the joints in this common and disabling disease. B cells, the immune system cells that make antibodies, mature in structures known as “germinal centers” in the spleen and lymph nodes. In the germinal centers, immature B cells are exposed to antigens and undergo two genetic processes called “somatic hypermutation” and “class-switch recombination” that ensure that each B cell makes an antibody that sticks as tightly as possible to just one antigen. The B cells then multiply and enter the bloodstream where they help to deal with infections. Interestingly, the inflamed synovium of many patients with rheumatoid arthritis contains structures that resemble germinal centers. Could these ectopic (misplaced) lymphoid structures, which are characterized by networks of immune system cells called follicular dendritic cells (FDCs), promote autoimmunity and long-term inflammation by driving the production of autoantibodies within the joint itself? In this study, the researchers investigate this possibility.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers collected synovial tissue from 55 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and used two approaches, called immunohistochemistry and real-time PCR, to investigate whether FDC-containing structures in synovium expressed an enzyme called activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID), which is needed for both somatic hypermutation and class-switch recombination. All the FDC-containing structures that the researchers found in their samples expressed AID. Furthermore, these AID-containing structures were surrounded by mature B cells making ACPAs. To test whether these B cells were derived from AID-expressing cells resident in the synovium rather than ACPA-expressing immune system cells coming into the synovium from elsewhere in the body, the researchers transplanted synovium from patients with rheumatoid arthritis under the skin of a special sort of mouse that largely lacks its own immune system. Four weeks later, the researchers found that the transplanted human lymphoid tissue was still making AID, that the level of AID expression correlated with the amount of human ACPA in the blood of the mice, and that the B cells in the transplant were proliferating.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that the ectopic lymphoid structures present in the synovium of some patients with rheumatoid arthritis are functional and are able to make ACPA. Because ACPA may be responsible for joint damage, the survival of these structures could, therefore, be involved in the development and progression of rheumatoid arthritis. More experiments are needed to confirm this idea, but these findings may explain why drugs that effectively clear B cells from the bloodstream do not always produce a marked clinical improvement in rheumatoid arthritis. Finally, they suggest that AID might provide a new target for the development of drugs to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Rene Toes and Tom Huizinga
The MedlinePlus Encyclopedia has a page on rheumatoid arthritis (in English and Spanish). MedlinePlus provides links to other information on rheumatoid arthritis (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices information service has detailed information on rheumatoid arthritis
The US National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases provides Fast Facts, an easy to read publication for the public, and a more detailed Handbook on rheumatoid arthritis
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an overview on rheumatoid arthritis that includes statistics about this disease and its impact on daily life
PMCID: PMC2621263  PMID: 19143467
6.  Ectopic lymphoid neogenesis in psoriatic arthritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2007;66(6):720-726.
Ectopic lymphoid neogenesis (LN) occurs in rheumatoid synovium, where it is thought to drive local antigen‐dependent B cell development and autoantibody production. This process involves the expression of specific homing chemokines and the development of high endothelial venules (HEV).
To investigate whether these mechanisms occur in psoriatic arthritis (PsA) synovium, where autoantibodies have not been described and the organisation and function of B cells is not clear, and to analyse their clinical correlates.
Arthroscopic synovial biopsy specimens from patients with PsA before and after tumour necrosis factor α blockade were characterised by immunohistochemical analysis for T/B cell segregation, peripheral lymph node addressin (PNAd)‐positive HEV, and the expression of CXCL13, CCL21 and CXCL12 chemokines in relation to the size of lymphoid aggregates.
Lymphoid aggregates of variable sizes were observed in 25 of 27 PsA synovial tissues. T/B cell segregation was often observed, and was correlated with the size of lymphoid aggregates. A close relationship between the presence of large and highly organised aggregates, the development of PNAd+ HEV, and the expression of CXCL13 and CCL21 was found. Large organised aggregates with all LN features were found in 13 of 27 tissues. LN in PsA synovitis was not related to the duration, pattern or severity of the disease. The synovial LN pattern remained stable over time in persistent synovitis, but a complete response to treatment was associated with a regression of the LN features.
LN occurs frequently in inflamed PsA synovial tissues. Highly organised follicles display the characteristic features of PNAd+ HEV and CXCL13 and CCL21 expression, demonstrating that the microanatomical bases for germinal centre formation are present in PsA. The regression of LN on effective treatment indicates that the pathogenic and clinical relevance of these structures in PsA merits further investigation.
PMCID: PMC1954653  PMID: 17223654
7.  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.
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.
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.
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).
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
8.  High CXCR3 expression in synovial mast cells associated with CXCL9 and CXCL10 expression in inflammatory synovial tissues of patients with rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2003;5(5):R241-R252.
To improve our knowledge on the pathophysiology of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), we investigated gene expression patterns in synovial tissue from RA and osteoarthritis (OA) patients. DNA oligonucleotide microarray analysis was employed to identify differentially expressed genes in synovial tissue from pathologically classified tissue samples from RA (n = 20) and OA patients (n = 10). From 7131 gene sets displayed on the microarray chip, 101 genes were found to be upregulated and 300 genes to be downregulated in RA as compared with OA. Semiquantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction, Western blotting and immunohistochemistry were used to validate microarray expression levels. These experiments revealed that Cys–X–Cys receptor (CXCR)1, CXCR2 and CXCR3 mRNAs, as well as Cys–X–Cys ligand (CXCL)9 (monokine induced by IFN-γ) and CXCL10 (IFN-γ inducible protein 10) mRNAs, were significantly upregulated in RA as compared with OA disease. Elevated protein levels in RA synovial tissue were detected for CXCR1 and CXCR3 by Western blotting. Using immunohistochemistry, CXCR3 protein was found to be preferentially expressed on mast cells within synovial tissue from RA patients. These findings suggest that substantial expression of CXCR3 protein on mast cells within synovial tissue from RA patients plays a significant role in the pathophysiology of RA, accompanied by elevated levels of the chemokines CXCL9 and CXCL10. Mature mast cells are likely to contribute to and sustain the inflamed state in arthritic lesions (e.g. by production of inflammatory mediators such as histamine, proteinases, arachidonic acid metabolites and cytokines). Thus, the mast cell could become a potential target in therapeutic intervention.
PMCID: PMC193722  PMID: 12932287
chemokines; CXCR3; inflammation; mast cells; rheumatoid arthritis; synovial tissue
9.  Reduction of CXCR4 expression in Rheumatoid Arthritis Rat Joints by low level diode laser irradiation 
Laser Therapy  2011;20(1):53-58.
Background: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory joint disorder, whose progression leads to the destruction of cartilage and bone. Chemokines and their receptors are potential therapeutic targets in RA. Among these, it has been suggested that CXC chemokine 4 (CXCR4) and its ligand CXC ligand 12 (CXCL12) are involved in RA pathogenesis. Low-level laser irradiation (LLLI) is currently being evaluated for the treatment of RA; however, the molecular mechanisms underlying its effectiveness remain unclear.
Aim: To understand the anti-inflammatory effect of LLLI, we used the collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) rat as RA model and analyzed the gene expression profile in synovial membrane in the hindpaw joints of control, CIA and CIA + LLLI. Expression of CXCR4 and CXCL12 genes were also studied.
Materials and Methods: Total RNA was isolated from the synovial membrane tissue of CIA rat joints or CIA joints treated with LLLI (830 nm Ga-Al-As diode), and gene expression profiles were analyzed by DNA microarray (41,000 rat genes). The mRNA levels were confirmed by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and real-time PCR. Immunohistochemical examination to examine CXCR4 protein expression was also carried out.
Results: DNA microarray analysis showed that CXCR4 gene expression was increased in CIA tissue and LLLI treatment significantly decreased CIA-induced CXCR4 mRNA levels. In contrast, CXCL12 did not show any significant changes. The microarray data of CXCR4 mRNA levels were further validated using RT-PCR and real-time PCR. Increased CXCR4 mRNA levels by CIA and its reduction following LLLI was successfully confirmed. CXCR4 production was increased in CIA joints and its production was decreased by LLLI.
Conclusion: Decreased CXCR4 expression may be one of the mechanisms in LLLI-mediated reduction of RA inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3806082  PMID: 24155514
Rheumatoid arthritis; rat joint; CXCR4; low-level laser irradiation
10.  Kinesin-like protein CENP-E is upregulated in rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts 
Arthritis Research  1999;1(1):71-80.
Our aim was to identify specifically expressed genes using RNA arbitrarily primed (RAP)-polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for differential display in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In RA, amplification of a distinct PCR product suitable for sequencing could be observed. Sequence analysis identified the PCR product as highly homologous to a 434 base pair segment of the human centromere kinesin-like protein CENP-E. Differential expression of CENP-E was confirmed by quantitative reverse transcription PCR, immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization. CENP-E expression was independent from prednisolone and could not be completely inhibited by serum starvation. RAP-PCR is a suitable method to identify differentially expressed genes in rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts. Also, because motifs of CENP-E show homologies to jun and fos oncogene products and are involved in virus assembly, CENP-E may be involved in the pathophysiology of RA.
Articular destruction by invading synovial fibroblasts is a typical feature in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Recent data support the hypothesis that key players in this scenario are transformed-appearing synovial fibroblasts at the site of invasion into articular cartilage and bone. They maintain their aggressive phenotype toward cartilage, even when first cultured and thereafter coimplanted together with normal human cartilage into severe combined immunodeficient mice for an extended period of time. However, little is known about the upregulation of genes that leads to this aggressive fibroblast phenotype. To inhibit this progressive growth without interfering with pathways of physiological matrix remodelling, identification of pathways that operate specifically in RA synovial fibroblasts is required. In order to achieve this goal, identification of genes showing upregulation restricted to RA synovial fibroblasts is essential.
To identify specifically expressed genes using RNA arbitrarily primed (RAP)-polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for differential display in patients with RA.
RNA was extracted from cultured synovial fibroblasts from 10 patients with RA, four patients with osteoarthritis (OA), and one patient with psoriatic arthritis. RAP-PCR was performed using different arbitrary primers for first-strand and second-strand synthesis. First-strand and second-strand synthesis were performed using arbitrary primers: US6 (5' -GTGGTGACAG-3') for first strand, and Nuclear 1+ (5' -ACGAAGAAGAG-3'), OPN28 (5' -GCACCAGGGG-3'), Kinase A2+ (5' -GGTGCCTTTGG-3')and OPN24 (5' -AGGGGCACCA-3') for second-strand synthesis. PCR reactions were loaded onto 8 mol/l urea/6% polyacrylamide-sequencing gels and electrophoresed.Gel slices carrying the target fragment were then excised with a razor blade, eluated and reamplified. After verifying their correct size and purity on 4% agarose gels, the reamplified products derived from the single-strand confirmation polymorphism gel were cloned, and five clones per transcript were sequenced. Thereafter, a GenBank® analysis was performed. Quantitative reverse transcription PCR of the segments was performed using the PCR MIMIC® technique.In-situ expression of centromere kinesin-like protein-E (CENP-E) messenger (m)RNA in RA synovium was assessed using digoxigenin-labelled riboprobes, and CENP-E protein expression in fibroblasts and synovium was performed by immunogold-silver immunohistochemistry and cytochemistry. Functional analysis of CENP-E was done using different approaches (eg glucocorticoid stimulation, serum starvation and growth rate analysis of synovial fibroblasts that expressed CENP-E).
In RA, amplification of a distinct PCR product suitable for sequencing could be observed. The indicated complementary DNA fragment of 434 base pairs from RA mRNA corresponded to nucleotides 6615-7048 in the human centromere kinesin-like protein CENP-E mRNA (GenBank® accession No. emb/Z15005).The isolated sequence shared greater than 99% nucleic acid (P = 2.9e-169) identity with the human centromere kinesin-like protein CENP-E. Two base changes at positions 6624 (A to C) and 6739 (A to G) did not result in alteration in the amino acid sequence, and therefore 100% amino acid identity could be confirmed. The amplification of 10 clones of the cloned RAP product revealed the presence of CENP-E mRNA in every fibroblast culture examined, showing from 50% (271.000 ± 54.000 phosphor imager arbitrary units) up to fivefold (961.000 ± 145.000 phosphor imager arbitrary units) upregulation when compared with OA fibroblasts. Neither therapy with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs such as methotrexate, gold, resochine or cyclosporine A, nor therapy with oral steroids influenced CENP-E expression in the RA fibroblasts. Of the eight RA fibroblast populations from RA patients who were receiving disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, five showed CENP-E upregulation; and of the eight fibroblast populations from RA patients receiving steroids, four showed CENP-E upregulation.
Numerous synovial cells of the patients with RA showed a positive in situ signal for the isolated CENP-E gene segment, confirming CENP-E mRNA production in rheumatoid synovium, whereas in OA synovial tissue CENP-E mRNA could not be detected. In addition, CENP-E expression was independent from medication. This was further confirmed by analysis of the effect of prednisolone on CENP-E expression, which revealed no alteration in CENP-E mRNA after exposure to different (physiological) concentrations of prednisolone. Serum starvation also could not suppress CENP-E mRNA completely.
Since its introduction in 1992, numerous variants of the differential display method and continuous improvements including RAP-PCR have proved to have both efficiency and reliability in examination of differentially regulated genes. The results of the present study reveal that RAP-PCR is a suitable method to identify differentially expressed genes in rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts.
The mRNA, which has been found to be upregulated in rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts, codes for a kinesin-like motor protein named CENP-E, which was first characterized in 1991. It is a member of a family of centromere-associated proteins, of which six (CENP-A to CENP-F) are currently known. CENP-E itself is a kinetochore motor, which accumulates transiently at kinetochores in the G2 phase of the cell cycle before mitosis takes place, appears to modulate chromosome movement and spindle elongation,and is degraded at the end of mitosis. The presence or upregulation of CENP-E has never been associated with RA.
The three-dimensional structure of CENP-E includes a coiled-coil domain. This has important functions and shows links to known pathways in RA pathophysiology. Coiled-coil domains can also be found in jun and fos oncogene products, which are frequently upregulated in RA synovial fibroblasts. They are also involved in DNA binding and transactivation processes resembling the situation in AP-1 (Jun/Fos)-dependent DNA-binding in rheumatoid synovium. Most interestingly, these coiled-coil motifs are crucial for the assembly of viral proteins, and the upregulation of CENP-E might reflect the influence of infectious agents in RA synovium. We also performed experiments showing that serum starvation decreased, but did not completely inhibit CENP-E mRNA expression. This shows that CENP-E is related to, but does not completely depend on proliferation of these cells. In addition, we determined the growth rate of CENP-E high and low expressors, showing that it was independent from the amount of CENP-E expression. supporting the statement that upregulation of CENP-E reflects an activated RA fibroblast phenotype. In summary, the results of the present study support the hypothesis that CENP-E, presumably independently from medication, may not only be upregulated, but may also be involved in RA pathophysiology.
PMCID: PMC17776  PMID: 11056662
arthritis; centromere; differential display; immunohistochemistry; in situ hybridization; RNA fingerprinting
11.  Expression and regulation of CCL18 in synovial fluid neutrophils of patients with rheumatoid arthritis 
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is characterized by the recruitment of leukocytes and the accumulation of inflammatory mediators within the synovial compartment. Release of the chemokine CCL18 has been widely attributed to antigen-presenting cells, including macrophages and dendritic cells. This study investigates the production of CCL18 in polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMN), the predominant cell type recruited into synovial fluid (SF). Microarray analysis, semiquantitative and quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction identified SF PMN from patients with RA as a novel source for CCL18 in diseased joints. Highly upregulated expression of other chemokine genes was observed for CCL3, CXCL8 and CXCL10, whereas CCL21 was downregulated. The chemokine receptor genes were differentially expressed, with upregulation of CXCR4, CCRL2 and CCR5 and downregulation of CXCR1 and CXCR2. In cell culture experiments, expression of CCL18 mRNA in blood PMN was induced by tumor necrosis factor α, whereas synthesis of CCL18 protein required additional stimulation with a combination of IL-10 and vitamin D3. In comparison, recruited SF PMN from patients with RA were sensitized for CCL18 production, because IL-10 alone was sufficient to induce CCL18 release. These results suggest a release of the T cell-attracting CCL18 by PMN when recruited to diseased joints. However, its production is tightly regulated at the levels of mRNA expression and protein synthesis.
PMCID: PMC2212580  PMID: 17875202
12.  Chemokine receptor expression and functional effects of chemokines on B cells: implication in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2009;11(5):R149.
Accumulation of B cells in the rheumatoid arthritis (RA) synovium has been reported, and it has been thought that these cells might contribute to the pathogenesis of RA by antigen presentation, autoantibody production, and/or inflammatory cytokine production. Chemokines could enhance the accumulation of B cells in the synovium. The aims of this study were to determine chemokine receptor expression by B cells both in the peripheral blood of normal donors and subjects with RA, and at the inflammatory site in RA, and the effects of chemokines on B cell activation.
Cell surface molecule expression was analyzed by flow cytometry. Cellular migration was assessed using chemotaxis chambers. Cellular proliferation was examined by 3H-thymidine incorporation. Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) production was assayed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
Significant numbers of peripheral blood B cells of healthy donors and subjects with RA expressed CC chemokine receptor (CCR)5 and CXCR3, and most B cells expressed CCR6, CCR7, CXCR4 and CXCR5. CCR5 expression was more frequent on CD27+ than CD27- peripheral blood B cells of healthy donors and RA. Synovial B cells more frequently expressed CCR5, but less often expressed CCR6, CCR7 and CXCR5 compared to peripheral blood in RA. Further functional analyses were performed on peripheral blood B cells from healthy donors. Migration of peripheral blood B cells, especially CD27+ B cells, was enhanced by CC chemokine ligand (CCL)20, CCL19, CCL21 and CXCL12. All four chemokines alone induced B cell proliferation; with CCL21 being the most effective. CCL21 also enhanced the proliferation of anti-immunoglobulin (Ig)M-stimulated B cells and blockade of CCR7 inhibited this effect. CCL20, CCL21 and CXCL12 enhanced TNF production by anti-IgM mAb-stimulated B cells. Finally, stimulation with CXCL12, but not CCL20, CCL19 and CCL21, enhanced inducible costimulator-ligand (ICOSL) expression by peripheral blood B cells of healthy donors and RA, but did not increase B cell-activating factor receptor or transmembrane activator and CAML-interactor.
The data suggest that CCR5, CCR6, CCR7, CXCR3, CXCR4 and CXCR5 may be important for the B cell migration into the synovium of RA patients, and also their local proliferation, cytokine production and ICOSL expression in the synovium.
PMCID: PMC2787286  PMID: 19804625
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.
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.
To examine whether FcγR expression on macrophages is related to severity of synovial inflammation and cartilage destruction during immune-complex-mediated joint inflammation.
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).
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.
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.  Key regulatory molecules of cartilage destruction in rheumatoid arthritis: an in vitro study 
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.
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.
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).
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.
PMCID: PMC2374452  PMID: 18205922
15.  Active synovial matrix metalloproteinase-2 is associated with radiographic erosions in patients with early synovitis 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(2):145-153.
Serum and synovial tissue expression of the matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 and -9 and their molecular regulators, MMP-14 and TIMP-2 was examined in 28 patients with inflammatory early synovitis and 4 healthy volunteers and correlated with the presence of erosions in the patients. Immunohistological staining of MMP-2, MMP-14 and TIMP-2 localized to corresponding areas in the synovial lining layer and was almost absent in normal synovium. Patients with radiographic erosions had significantly higher levels of active MMP-2 than patients with no erosions, suggesting that activated MMP-2 levels in synovial tissue may be a marker for a more aggressive synovial lesion.
In cancer the gelatinases [matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 and MMP-9] have been shown to be associated with tissue invasion and metastatic disease. In patients with inflammatory arthritis the gelatinases are expressed in the synovial membrane, and have been implicated in synovial tissue invasion into adjacent cartilage and bone. It is hypothesized that an imbalance between the activators and inhibitors of the gelatinases results in higher levels of activity, enhanced local proteolysis, and bone erosion.
To determine whether the expression and activity levels of MMP-2 and MMP-9, and their regulators MMP-14 and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase (TIMP), are associated with early erosion formation in patients with synovitis of recent onset.
Patients and method:
A subset of 66 patients was selected from a larger early synovitis cohort on the basis of tissue availability for the study of synovial tissue and serum gelatinase expression. Patients with peripheral joint synovitis of less than 1 years' duration were evaluated clinically and serologically on four visits over a period of 12 months. At the initial visit, patients underwent a synovial tissue biopsy of one swollen joint, and patients had radiographic evaluation of hands and feet initially and at 1year. Serum MMP-1, MMP-2, MMP-9, MMP-14, and TIMP-1 and TIMP-2 levels were determined, and synovial tissue was examined by immunohistology for the expression of MMP-2 and MMP-9, and their molecular regulators. Gelatinolytic activity for MMP-2 and MMP-9 was quantified using a sensitive, tissue-based gel zymography technique. Four healthy individuals underwent closed synovial biopsy and their synovial tissues were similarly analyzed.
Of the 66 patients studied, 45 fulfilled American College of Rheumatology criteria for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), with 32 (71%) being rheumatoid factor positive. Of the 21 non-RA patients, seven had a spondylarthropathy and 14 had undifferentiated arthritis. Radiographically, 12 of the RA patients had erosions at multiple sites by 1 year, whereas none of the non-RA patients had developed erosive disease of this extent. In the tissue, latent MMP-2 was widely expressed in the synovial lining layer and in areas of stromal proliferation in the sublining layer and stroma, whereas MMP-9 was expressed more sparsely and focally. MMP-14, TIMP-2, and MMP-2 were all detected in similar areas of the lining layer on consecutive histologic sections. Tissue expression of MMP-14, the activator for pro-MMP-2, was significantly higher in RA than in non-RA patients (8.4 ± 5 versus 3.7 ± 4 cells/high-power field; P = 0.009). In contrast, the expression of TIMP-2, an inhibitor of MMP-2, was lower in the RA than in the non-RA samples (25 ± 12 versus 39 ± 9 cells/high-power field; P = 0.01). Synovial tissue expressions of MMP-2, MMP-14, and TIMP-2 were virtually undetectable in normal synovial tissue samples. The synovial tissue samples of patients with erosive disease had significantly higher levels of active MMP-2 than did those of patients without erosions (Fig. 1). Tissue expression of MMP-2 and MMP-9, however, did not correlate with the serum levels of these enzymes.
With the exception of serum MMP-2, which was not elevated over normal, serum levels of all of the other MMPs and TIMPs were elevated to varying degrees, and were not predictive of erosive disease. Interestingly, MMP-1 and C-reactive protein, both of which were associated with the presence of erosions, were positively correlated with each other (r = 0.42; P < 0.001).
MMP-2 and MMP-9 are thought to play an important role in the evolution of joint erosions in patients with an inflammatory arthritis. Most studies have concentrated on the contribution of MMP-9 to the synovitis, because synovial fluid and serum MMP-9 levels are markedly increased in inflammatory arthropathies. Previously reported serum levels of MMP-9 have varied widely. In the present sample of patients with synovitis of recent onset, serum MMP-9 levels were elevated in only 21%. Moreover, these elevations were not specific for RA, the tissue expression of MMP-9 was focal, and the levels of MMP-9 activity were not well correlated with early erosions. Although serum MMP-2 levels were not of prognostic value, high synovial tissue levels of MMP-2 activity were significantly correlated with the presence of early erosions. This may reflect augmented activation of MMP-2 by the relatively high levels of MMP-14 and low levels of TIMP-2 seen in these tissues. We were able to localize the components of this trimolecular complex to the synovial lining layer in consecutive tissue sections, a finding that is consistent with their colocalization.
In conclusion, we have provided evidence that active MMP-2 complexes are detectable in the inflamed RA synovium and may be involved in the development of early bony erosions. These results suggest that strategies to inhibit the activation of MMP-2 may have the potential for retarding or preventing early erosions in patients with inflammatory arthritis.
PMCID: PMC17808  PMID: 11062605
early synovitis; erosion; metalloproteinase; matrix metalloproteinase-2; rheumatoid arthritis
16.  Coexpression and interaction of CXCL10 and CD26 in mesenchymal cells by synergising inflammatory cytokines: CXCL8 and CXCL10 are discriminative markers for autoimmune arthropathies 
Leukocyte infiltration during acute and chronic inflammation is regulated by exogenous and endogenous factors, including cytokines, chemokines and proteases. Stimulation of fibroblasts and human microvascular endothelial cells with the inflammatory cytokines interleukin-1β (IL-1β) or tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) combined with either interferon-α (IFN-α), IFN-β or IFN-γ resulted in a synergistic induction of the CXC chemokine CXCL10, but not of the neutrophil chemoattractant CXCL8. In contrast, simultaneous stimulation with different IFN types did not result in a synergistic CXCL10 protein induction. Purification of natural CXCL10 from the conditioned medium of fibroblasts led to the isolation of CD26/dipeptidyl peptidase IV-processed CXCL10 missing two NH2-terminal residues. In contrast to intact CXCL10, NH2-terminally truncated CXCL10(3–77) did not induce extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 or Akt/protein kinase B phosphorylation in CXC chemokine receptor 3-transfected cells. Together with the expression of CXCL10, the expression of membrane-bound CD26/dipeptidyl peptidase IV was also upregulated in fibroblasts by IFN-γ, by IFN-γ plus IL-1β or by IFN-γ plus TNF-α. This provides a negative feedback for CXCL10-dependent chemotaxis of activated T cells and natural killer cells. Since TNF-α and IL-1β are implicated in arthritis, synovial concentrations of CXCL8 and CXCL10 were compared in patients suffering from crystal arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. All three groups of autoimmune arthritis patients (ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis) had significantly increased synovial CXCL10 levels compared with crystal arthritis patients. In contrast, compared with crystal arthritis, only rheumatoid arthritis patients, and not ankylosing spondylitis or psoriatic arthritis patients, had significantly higher synovial CXCL8 concentrations. Synovial concentrations of the neutrophil chemoattractant CXCL8 may therefore be useful to discriminate between autoimmune arthritis types.
PMCID: PMC1779382  PMID: 16846531
17.  CXCL12 is displayed by rheumatoid endothelial cells through its basic amino-terminal motif on heparan sulfate proteoglycans 
The chemokine CXCL12 (also known as stromal cell-derived factor, SDF-1) is constitutively expressed by stromal resident cells and is involved in the homeostatic and inflammatory traffic of leukocytes. Binding of CXCL12 to glycosaminoglycans on endothelial cells (ECs) is supposed to be relevant to the regulation of leukocyte diapedesis and neoangiogenesis during inflammatory responses. To improve our understanding of the relevance of this process to rheumatoid arthritis (RA), we have studied the mechanisms of presentation of exogenous CXCL12 by cultured RA ECs. RA synovial tissues had higher levels of CXCL12 on the endothelium than osteoarthritis (OA) tissues; in both, CXCL12 colocalized to heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) and high endothelial venules. In cultured RA ECs, exogenous CXCL12α was able to bind in a CXCR4-independent manner to surface HSPGs. Desulfation of RA EC HSPGs by pretreatment with sodium chlorate, or by replacing in a synthetic CXCL12α the residues Lys24 and Lys27 by Ser (CXCL12α-K2427S), decreased or abrogated the ability of the chemokine to bind to RA ECs. Ex vivo, synovial ECs from patients with either OA or RA displayed a higher CXCL12-binding capacity than human umbilical vein ECs (HUVECs), and in HUVECs the binding of CXCL12 was increased on exposure to tumor necrosis factor-α or lymphotoxin-α1β2. Our findings indicate that CXCL12 binds to HSPGs on ECs of RA synovium. The phenomenon relates to the interaction of HSPGs with a CXCL12 domain with net positive surface charge located in the first β strand, which encompasses a canonical BXBB HSPG-binding motif. Furthermore, we show that the attachment of CXCL12 to HSPGs is upregulated by inflammatory cytokines. Both the upregulation of a constitutive chemokine during chronic inflammation and the HSPG-dependent immobilization of CXCL12 in EC surfaces are potential sites for therapeutic intervention.
PMCID: PMC1526602  PMID: 16507142
18.  Local administration of glucocorticoids decreases synovial citrullination in rheumatoid arthritis 
Protein citrullination is present in the rheumatoid synovium, presumably contributing to the perpetuation of chronic inflammation, in the presence of specific autoimmunity. As a result, the present study examined the possibility that effective antirheumatic treatment will decrease the level of synovial citrullination.
Synovial biopsies were obtained from 11 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients before and after 8 weeks of treatment with 20 mg methotrexate weekly, 15 RA patients before and 2 weeks after an intraarticular glucocorticoid injection, and eight healthy volunteers. Synovial inflammation was assessed with double-blind semiquantitative analysis of lining thickness, cell infiltration, and vascularity by using a 4-point scale. Expression of citrullinated proteins (CPs) with the monoclonal antibody F95 and peptidylarginine deiminase (PAD) 2 and 4 was assessed immunohistochemically with double-blind semiquantitative analysis. In vitro synovial fluid (SF), peripheral blood (PB), mononuclear cells (MCs), and synovial explants obtained from RA patients were incubated with dexamethasone and analyzed with immunohistochemistry for expression of CP as well as PAD2 and PAD4 enzymes.
The presence of synovial CP was almost exclusive in RA compared with healthy synovium and correlated with the degree of local inflammation. Treatment with glucocorticoids but not methotrexate alters expression of synovial CP and PAD enzymes, in parallel with a decrease of synovial inflammation. Ex vivo and in vitro studies suggest also a direct effect of glucocorticoids on citrullination, as demonstrated by the decrease in the level of citrullination and PAD expression after incubation of SFMC and synovial explants with dexamethasone.
Synovial citrullination and PAD expression are dependent on local inflammation and targeted by glucocorticoids.
PMCID: PMC3392813  PMID: 22284820
19.  Green tea extract inhibits chemokine production, but up-regulates chemokine receptor expression, in rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts and rat adjuvant-induced arthritis 
Rheumatology (Oxford, England)  2009;49(3):467-479.
Objective. Evaluation of the efficacy of green tea extract (GTE) in regulating chemokine production and chemokine receptor expression in human RA synovial fibroblasts and rat adjuvant-induced arthritis (AIA).
Methods. Fibroblasts isolated from human RA synovium were used in the study. Regulated upon activation normal T cell expressed and secreted (RANTES)/CCL5, monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP)-1/CCL2, growth-regulated oncogene (GRO)α/CXCL1 and IL-8/CXCL8 production was measured by ELISA. Western blotting was used to study the phosphorylation of protein kinase C (PKC)δ and c-Jun N-terminal kinases (JNK). Chemokine and chemokine receptor expression was determined by quantitative RT–PCR. The benefit of GTE administration in rat AIA was determined.
Results. GTE (2.5–40 μg/ml) inhibited IL-1β-induced MCP-1/CCL2 (10 ng/ml), RANTES/CCL5, GROα/CXCL1 and IL-8/CXCL8 production in human RA synovial fibroblasts (P < 0.05). However, GTE inhibited MCP-1/CCL2 and GROα/CXCL1 mRNA synthesis in RA synovial fibroblasts. Furthermore, GTE also inhibited IL-1β-induced phosphorylation of PKCδ, the signalling pathway mediating IL-1β-induced chemokine production. Interestingly, GTE preincubation enhanced constitutive and IL-1β-induced CCR1, CCR2b, CCR5, CXCR1 and CXCR2 receptor expression. GTE administration (200 mg/kg/day p.o.) modestly ameliorated rat AIA, which was accompanied by a decrease in MCP-1/CCL2 and GROα/CXCL1 levels and enhanced CCR-1, -2, -5 and CXCR1 receptor expression in the joints of GTE administered rats.
Conclusions. Chemokine receptor overexpression with reduced chemokine production by GTE may be one potential mechanism to limit the overall inflammation and joint destruction in RA.
PMCID: PMC2820264  PMID: 20032224
Green tea; Chemokines; Chemokine receptors; Rheumatoid arthritis; Synovial fibroblasts; Complementary and alternative medicine; Adjuvant-induced arthritis
20.  Potential role and mechanism of IFN-gamma inducible protein-10 on receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B ligand (RANKL) expression in rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(3):R104.
IFN-gamma inducible protein-10 (CXCL10), a member of the CXC chemokine family, and its receptor CXCR3 contribute to the recruitment of T cells from the blood stream into the inflamed joints and have a crucial role in perpetuating inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) synovial joints. Recently we showed the role of CXCL10 on receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B ligand (RANKL) expression in an animal model of RA and suggested the contribution to osteoclastogenesis. We tested the effects of CXCL10 on the expression of RANKL in RA synoviocytes and T cells, and we investigated which subunit of CXCR3 contributes to RANKL expression by CXCL10.
Synoviocytes derived from RA patients were kept in culture for 24 hours in the presence or absence of TNF-α. CXCL10 expression was measured by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) of cultured synoviocytes. Expression of RANKL was measured by RT-PCR and western blot in cultured synoviocytes with or without CXCL10 and also measured in Jurkat/Hut 78 T cells and CD4+ T cells in the presence of CXCL10 or dexamethasone. CXCL10 induced RANKL expression in Jurkat T cells was tested upon the pertussis toxin (PTX), an inhibitor of Gi subunit of G protein coupled receptor (GPCR). The synthetic siRNA for Gαi2 was used to knock down gene expression of respective proteins.
CXCL10 expression in RA synoviocytes was increased by TNF-α. CXCL10 slightly increased RANKL expression in RA synoviocytes, but markedly increased RANKL expression in Jurkat/Hut 78 T cell or CD4+ T cell. CXCL10 augmented the expression of RANKL by 62.6%, and PTX inhibited both basal level of RANKL (from 37.4 ± 16.0 to 18.9 ± 13.0%) and CXCL10-induced RANKL expression in Jurkat T cells (from 100% to 48.6 ± 27.3%). Knock down of Gαi2 by siRNA transfection, which suppressed the basal level of RANKL (from 61.8 ± 17.9% to 31.1 ± 15.9%) and CXCL10-induced RANKL expression (from 100% to 53.1 ± 27.1%) in Jurkat T cells, is consistent with PTX, which inhibited RANKL expression.
CXCL10 increased RANKL expression in CD4+ T cells and it was mediated by Gαi subunits of CXCR3. These results indicate that CXCL10 may have a potential role in osteoclastogenesis of RA synovial tissue and subsequent joint erosion.
PMCID: PMC3218919  PMID: 21708014
21.  Anti-inflammatory therapy by intravenous delivery of non-heparan sulfate-binding CXCL12 
The FASEB Journal  2009;23(11):3906-3916.
Interaction between chemokines and heparan sulfate (HS) is essential for leukocyte recruitment during inflammation. Previous studies have shown that a non-HS-binding mutant form of the inflammatory chemokine CCL7 can block inflammation produced by wild-type chemokines. This study examined the anti-inflammatory mechanism of a non-HS-binding mutant of the homeostatic chemokine CXCL12. Initial experiments demonstrated that mutant CXCL12 was an effective CXCR4 agonist. However, this mutant chemokine failed to promote transendothelial migration in vitro and inhibited the haptotactic response to wild-type CCL7, CXCL12, and CXCL8, and naturally occurring chemoattractants in synovial fluid from the rheumatoid synovium, including CCL2, CCL7, and CXCL8. Notably, intravenous administration of mutant CXCL12 also inhibited the recruitment of leukocytes to murine air pouches filled with wild-type CXCL12. Following intravenous administration, wild-type CXCL12 was cleared from the circulation rapidly, while the mutant chemokine persisted for >24 h. Chronic exposure to mutant CXCL12 in the circulation reduced leukocyte-surface expression of CXCR4, reduced the chemotactic response of these cells to CXCL12, and inhibited normal chemokine-mediated induction of adhesion between the α4β1 integrin, VLA-4, and VCAM-1. These data demonstrate that systemic administration of non-HS-binding variants of CXCL12 can mediate a powerful anti-inflammatory effect through chemokine receptor desensitization.—O’Boyle, G., Mellor, P., Kirby, J. A., Ali, S. Anti-inflammatory therapy by intravenous delivery of non-heparan sulfate-binding CXCL12.
PMCID: PMC2791779  PMID: 19667120
chemokine; glycosaminoglycan; G-protein-coupled receptors; integrin adhesion; receptor desensitization
22.  Synoviocyte innate responses: II. Pivotal role of interferon regulatory factor 3 
Innate immune responses likely contribute to synovial inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Of the innate receptors implicated in RA, TLR3 activates several signaling cascades, including -interferon regulatory factors 3 and 7 (IRF), resulting in production of viral-stress IFN-inducible genes. The present study was designed to investigate the contributions of IRF3 and IRF7 to the type I IFN response as well as the expression of other cytokines, chemokines, and degradative enzymes in synoviocytes.
Fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) were stimulated with poly (I-C) after transfection with IRF3 or IRF7 siRNA to knockdown transcription factor expression. Western blots, luciferase assay after transfection with reporter constructs, Q-PCR, and AP-1 DNA binding ELISA was performed to evaluate the role of IRF3 and IRF7 in poly (I-C)-induced signaling and synoviocyte gene expression.
IRF3 and IRF7 knockdown showed that IRF3 regulates IFN-stimulated response element (ISRE) promoter activity as well as IFNβ, IRF5, IRF7, RANTES, IP-10, MCP-1, and MIP1α gene expression in response to poly (I-C). IRF7 knockdown modestly decreased a subset of genes and ISRE activity, although the results were not significant. Surprisingly, IRF3 knockdown almost completely blocked expression of additional genes in which the ISRE is not traditionally considered a dominant promoter site in FLS, including MMP3, MMP9, IL-6 and IL-8. We then investigated a possible role for IRF3 in c-Jun activation and AP-1 binding because its promoter site is present in all four of the non-IFN regulated genes. IRF3 deficiency significantly decreased AP-1 binding of activated c-Jun compared with control.
In contrast to immune cells, IRF3 rather than IRF7 regulates TLR3-mediated type I IFN responses in human synoviocytes. IRF3 activates IFN-response gene expression by increasing ISRE promoter activity. In addition, IRF3 regulates other cytokines, chemokines, and MMPs through a novel mechanism that involves c-Jun and the AP-1 promoter site. Because the signaling pathway modulated by IRF3 plays a crucial role in synoviocytes, targeting IRF3 represents a potential approach to suppress diverse mediators while limiting suppression of IRF7-mediated immune responses.
PMCID: PMC2913682  PMID: 20483755
Rheumatoid arthritis; signal transduction; transcription factors; interferon
23.  Quantitative biomarker analysis of synovial gene expression by real-time PCR 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2003;5(6):R352-R360.
Synovial biomarker analysis in rheumatoid arthritis can be used to evaluate drug effect in clinical trials of novel therapeutic agents. Previous studies of synovial gene expression for these studies have mainly relied on histological methods including immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization. To increase the reliability of mRNA measurements on small synovial tissue samples, we developed and validated real time quantitative PCR (Q-PCR) methods on biopsy specimens. RNA was isolated from synovial tissue and cDNA was prepared. Cell-based standards were prepared from mitogen-stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Real time PCR was performed using TaqMan chemistry to quantify gene expression relative to the cell-based standard. Application of the cellular standard curve method markedly reduced intra- and inter-assay variability and corrected amplification efficiency errors compared with the C(t) method. The inter-assay coefficient of variation was less than 25% over time. Q-PCR methods were validated by demonstrating increased expression of IL-1β and IL-6 expression in rheumatoid arthritis synovial samples compared with osteoarthritis synovium. Based on determinations of sampling error and coefficient of variation, twofold differences in gene expression in serial biopsies can be detected by assaying approximately six synovial tissue biopsies from 8 to 10 patients. These data indicate that Q-PCR is a reliable method for determining relative gene expression in small synovial tissue specimens. The technique can potentially be used in serial biopsy studies to provide insights into mechanism of action and therapeutic effect of new anti-inflammatory agents.
PMCID: PMC333415  PMID: 14680510
arthritis; biomarker; rheumatoid; synovium
24.  Comparison of gene expression profiles between primary tumor and metastatic lesions in gastric cancer patients using laser microdissection and cDNA microarray 
AIM: To study the differential gene expression profiles of target cells in primary gastric cancer and its metastatic lymph nodes using laser microdissection (LMD) in combination with cDNA microarray.
METHODS: Normal gastric tissue samples from 30 healthy individuals, 36 cancer tissue samples from primary gastric carcinoma and lymph node metastasis tissue samples from 58 patients during gastric cancer resection were obtained using LMD in combination with cDNA microarray independently. After P27-based amplification, aRNA from 36 of 58 patients (group 1) with lymph node metastasis and metastatic tissue specimens from the remaining 22 patients (group 2) were applied to cDNA microarray. Semiquantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and immunohistochemical assay verified the results of microarray in group 2 and further identified genes differentially expressed in the progression of gastric cancer.
RESULTS: The expression of 10 genes was up-regulated while the expression of 15 genes was down-regulated in 22 gastric carcinoma samples compared with that of genes in the normal controls. The results were confirmed at the level of mRNA and protein, and suggested that four genes (OPCML, RNASE1, YES1 and ACK1) could play a key role in the tumorigenesis and metastasis of gastric cancer. The expression pattern of 3 genes (OPCML, RNASE1 and YES1) was similar to tumor suppressor genes. For example, the expression level of these genes was the highest in normal gastric epithelium, which was decreased in primary carcinoma, and further decreased in metastatic lymph nodes. On the contrary, the expression pattern of gene ACK1 was similar to that of oncogene. Four genes were further identified as differentially expressed genes in the majority of the cases in the progression of gastric cancer.
CONCLUSION: LMD in combination with cDNA microarray provides a unique support foe the identification of early expression profiles of differential genes and the expression pattern of 3 genes (OPCML, RNASE1 and YES1) associated with the progression of gastric cancer. Further study is needed to reveal the molecular mechanism of lymph node metastasis in patients with gastric cancer.
PMCID: PMC4087337  PMID: 17109515
Gastric cancer; cDNA microarray; Laser microdissection; Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction; P27
25.  The arthritis severity locus Cia5a regulates the expression of inflammatory mediators including Syk pathway genes and proteases in pristane-induced arthritis 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:710.
Cia5a is a locus on rat chromosome 10 that regulates disease severity and joint damage in two models of rheumatoid arthritis, collagen- and pristane-induced arthritis (PIA). In this study, we aimed to identify cellular and molecular processes regulated by Cia5a using microarray-based gene expression analysis of synovial tissues from MHC identical DA (severe erosive disease) and DA.F344(Cia5a) congenics (mild non-erosive disease) rats.
Synovial tissues from six DA and eight DA.F344(Cia5a) rats were analyzed 21 days after the induction of PIA using the Illumina RatRef-12 BeadChip (21,922 genes) and selected data confirmed with qPCR. There was a significantly increased expression of pro-inflammatory mediators such as Il1b (5-fold), Il18 (3.9-fold), Cxcl1 (10-fold), Cxcl13 (7.5-fold) and Ccl7 (7.9-fold), and proteases like Mmp3 (23-fold), Mmp9 (32-fold), Mmp14 (4.4-fold) and cathepsins in synovial tissues from DA, with reciprocally reduced levels in congenics. mRNA levels of 47 members of the Spleen Tyrosine Kinase (Syk) pathway were significantly increased in DA synovial tissues compared with DA.F344(Cia5a), and included Syk (5.4-fold), Syk-activating receptors and interacting proteins, and genes regulated by Syk such as NFkB, and NAPDH oxidase complex genes. Nuclear receptors (NR) such as Rxrg, Pparg and Rev-erba were increased in the protected congenics, and so was the anti-inflammatory NR-target gene Scd1 (54-fold increase). Tnn (72-fold decrease) was the gene most significantly increased in DA.
Analyses of gene expression in synovial tissues revealed that the arthritis severity locus Cia5a regulates the expression of key mediators of inflammation and joint damage, as well as the expression of members of the Syk pathway. This expression pattern correlates with disease severity and joint damage and along with the gene accounting for Cia5a could become a useful biomarker to identify patients at increased risk for severe and erosive disease. The identification of the gene accounting for Cia5a has the potential to generate a new and important target for therapy and prognosis.
PMCID: PMC3548698  PMID: 23249408
Rheumatoid arthritis; Articular damage; Autoimmune

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