Events that occur in rheumatoid arthritis synovial tissues are responsible for the signs and symptoms of joint inflammation and for the eventual destruction of articular and periarticular structures that lead to joint dysfunction and disability. The three most abundant cell populations in RA synovium are synovial macrophages (type A synoviocytes), synovial fibroblasts (type B synoviocytes) and infiltrating T lymphocytes. Other important cell populations include B lymphocytes, dendritic cells, plasma cells, mast cells and osteoclasts. Our current understanding of rheumatoid arthritis is moving beyond previous concepts that view this disease as the consequence of a specific and focused humoral or cellular autoimmune response to a single autoantigen. Rather, a new view of rheumatoid arthritis is emerging, which seeks to understand this disease as the product of pathologic cell–cell interactions occurring within a unique and defined environment, the synovium. T lymphocytes in rheumatoid arthritis synovium interact closely with dendritic cells, the most potent antigen-presenting cell population in the immune system. T cells also interact with monocytes and macrophages and cytokine-activated T cells may be, especially, suited to trigger production of the important cytokine TNFα by synovial macrophages. Recent evidence also suggests a potent bidirectional interaction between synovial T cells and synovial fibroblasts, which can lead to activation of both cell types. An important role for synovial B lymphocytes has been emphasized recently, both by experimental data and by results of clinical interventions. B cells in synovium can interact with fibroblasts as well as with other cells of the immune system and their potential role as antigen-presenting cells in the joint is as yet underexplored. Rheumatoid arthritis synovium may be one of the most striking examples of pathologic, organ-specific interactions between immune system cells and resident tissue cell populations. This view of rheumatoid arthritis also leads to the prediction that novel approaches to treatment will more logically target the intercellular communication systems that maintain such interactions, rather than attempt to ablate a single cell population.
T cells; B cells; Fibroblasts; Dendritic cells; Monocytes
The synovial tissue is a primary target of many inflammatory arthropathies, including psoriatic arthritis (PsA). Identification of proinflammatory molecules in the synovium may help to identify potentially therapeutic targets.
To investigate extensively the features of cell infiltration and expression of mediators of inflammation and joint destruction in the synovium of patients with PsA compared with patients with rheumatoid arthritis matched for disease duration and use of drugs.
Multiple synovial tissue biopsy specimens were obtained by arthroscopy from an inflamed joint in 19 patients with PsA (eight oligoarthritis, 11 polyarthritis) and 24 patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Biopsy specimens were analysed by immunohistochemistry to detect T cells, plasma cells, fibroblast‐like synoviocytes, macrophages, proinflammatory cytokines, matrix metalloproteinases and tissue inhibitor metalloproteinase‐1, adhesion molecules and vascular markers. Stained sections were evaluated by digital image analysis.
The synovial infiltrate of patients with PsA and rheumatoid arthritis was comparable with regard to numbers of fibroblast‐like synoviocytes and macrophages. T cell numbers were considerably lower in the synovium of patients with PsA. The number of plasma cells also tended to be lower in PsA. The expression of tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNFα), interleukin (IL) 1β, IL6 and IL18 was as high in PsA as in rheumatoid arthritis. The expression of matrix metalloproteinases, adhesion molecules and vascular markers was comparable for PsA and rheumatoid arthritis.
These data show increased proinflammatory cytokine expression in PsA synovium, comparable to results obtained for rheumatoid arthritis, and support the notion that, in addition to TNFα blockade, there may be a rationale for treatments directed at IL1β, IL6 and IL18.
Synovial pathophysiology is a complex and synergistic interplay of different cell populations with tissue components, mediated by a variety of signaling mechanisms. All of these mechanisms drive the affected joint into inflammation and drive the subsequent destruction of cartilage and bone. Each cell type contributes significantly to the initiation and perpetuation of this deleterious concert, especially in rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts and macrophages, both cell types with pivotal roles in inflammation and destruction, but also T cells and B cells are crucial for complex network in the inflamed synovium. An even more complex cellular crosstalk between these key players maintains a process of chronic inflammation. As outlined in the present review, in the past year substantial progress has been made to elucidate further details of the rich pathophysiology of rheumatoid arthritis, which may also facilitate the identification of novel targets for future therapeutic strategies.
Synovial macrophages are one of the resident cell types in synovial tissue and while they remain relatively quiescent in the healthy joint, they become activated in the inflamed joint and, along with infiltrating monocytes/macrophages, regulate secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines and enzymes involved in driving the inflammatory response and joint destruction. Synovial macrophages are positioned throughout the sub-lining layer and lining layer at the cartilage–pannus junction and mediate articular destruction. Sub-lining macrophages are now also considered as the most reliable biomarker for disease severity and response to therapy in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). There is a growing understanding of the molecular drivers of inflammation and an appreciation that the resolution of inflammation is an active process rather than a passive return to homeostasis, and this has implications for our understanding of the role of macrophages in inflammation. Macrophage phenotype determines the cytokine secretion profile and tissue destruction capabilities of these cells. Whereas inflammatory synovial macrophages have not yet been classified into one phenotype or another it is widely known that TNFα and IL-l, characteristically released by M1 macrophages, are abundant in RA while IL-10 activity, characteristic of M2 macrophages, is somewhat diminished. Here we will briefly review our current understanding of macrophages and macrophage polarization in RA as well as the elements implicated in controlling polarization, such as cytokines and transcription factors like NFκB, IRFs and NR4A, and pro-resolving factors, such as LXA4 and other lipid mediators which may promote a non-inflammatory, pro-resolving phenotype, and may represent a novel therapeutic paradigm.
macrophage; arthritis; inflammation
The abundance and activation of macrophages in the inflamed synovial membrane/pannus significantly correlates with the severity of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Although unlikely to be the 'initiators' of RA (if not as antigen-presenting cells in early disease), macrophages possess widespread pro-inflammatory, destructive, and remodeling capabilities that can critically contribute to acute and chronic disease. Also, activation of the monocytic lineage is not locally restricted, but extends to systemic parts of the mononuclear phagocyte system. Thus, selective counteraction of macrophage activation remains an efficacious approach to diminish local and systemic inflammation, as well as to prevent irreversible joint damage.
cytokine; fibroblast; macrophage; monocyte; nitric oxide; peripheral blood; reactive oxygen species; rheumatoid arthritis; synovial membrane; T-cell
Metalloproteinases produced by connective tissue cells may play a key part in the destruction of joints in rheumatoid arthritis. Matrix metalloproteinase 3 (MMP-3; stromelysin) capable of degrading cartilage proteoglycans and type IX collagen and of activating procollagenase was immunolocalised in hyperplastic synovial lining cells in rheumatoid synovium, but not in the cells of normal synovium. Cells responsible for synthesis of MMP-3 have the phenotype of synovioblasts (B cells) by immunoelectron microscopy, but not of phagocytic synovial macrophages (A cells). Cultured monolayer of rheumatoid synovial cells synthesises MMP-3 only under treatment with macrophage conditioned medium. Immunolocalisation of MMP-3 in rheumatoid synovium and cultured synovial cells was possible when the specimens were treated with a monovalent ionophore, monensin. These results suggest that MMP-3 is synthesised and secreted continuously without storage from hyperplastic synovioblasts stimulated by factor(s) derived from activated macrophages present in the synovium.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease leading to joint destruction and disability. Focal bone erosion is due to excess bone resorption of osteoclasts. Tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated factor 6 (TRAF6) is one of the critical mediators both in inflammatory signal pathway and differentiation and resorption activity of osteoclasts. Here we aimed to investigate TRAF6 expression in RA synovium and its correlation with histological synovitis severity and radiological joint destruction in RA.
Synovitis score was determined in needle biopsied synovium from 44 patients with active RA. Synovium from nine patients with osteoarthritis (OA) and seven with orthopedic arthropathies (Orth.A) were enrolled as "less inflamed" disease controls. Serial sections were stained immunohistochemically for TRAF6 as well as CD68 (macrophage), CD3 (T cell), CD20 (B cell), CD38 (plasmocyte), CD79a (B lineage cells from pre-B cell to plasmocyte stage), and CD34 (endothelial cell). Double immunofluorescence staining of TRAF6 and CD68 were tested. Densities of positive staining cells were determined and correlated with histological disease activity (synovitis score) and radiographic joint destruction (Sharp score).
TRAF6 expression was found in the intimal and subintimal area of RA synovium, with intense staining found in the endochylema and nucleus of intimal synoviocytes and subintimal inflammatory cells. Double immunofluorescence staining showed TRAF6 was expressed in most of the intimal cells and obviously expressed in CD68+ cells and some other CD68- cells in subintimal area. Synovial TRAF6 was significantly over-expressed in the RA group compared with the OA and Orth.A group (2.53 ± 0.94 vs. 0.72 ± 0.44 and 0.71 ± 0.49, P < 0.0001). Synovial TRAF6 expression in RA correlated significantly with synovitis score (r = 0.412, P = 0.006), as well as the inflammatory cell infiltration (r = 0.367, P = 0.014). Significant correlation was detected between synovial TRAF6 expression and intimal CD68+ cells, as well as the cell density of subintimal CD68+ cells, CD3+ cells, CD20+ cells, CD38+ cells, and CD79a+ cells (all P < 0.05).
Elevated synovial TRAF6 expression correlated with synovitis severity and CD68+ cell density in RA. It is, therefore, hypothesized that synovial TRAF6 is involved in the pathogenesis of synovial inflammation and osteoclast differentiation in RA.
OBJECTIVES—Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic disease characterised by irreversible destruction of the affected joints. As aggressive transformed-appearing synovial fibroblasts are commonly found at the site of invasion of the rheumatoid synovium into the adjacent cartilage and bone, the presence of microsatellite instability (MSI) and expression of mismatch repair enzymes as a possible mechanism in the alteration of these cells was examined.
METHODS—DNA was extracted from the synovial fibroblasts and blood of 20 patients with long term RA undergoing joint replacement, and the presence of MSI was studied at 10 microsatellite loci. In addition, immunohistochemistry was performed to evaluate the expression of the two major mismatch repair enzymes (hMLH1 and hMSH2) in rheumatoid synovium.
RESULTS—MSI could not be detected in any of the fibroblast cell populations derived from the 20 different rheumatoid synovial samples. In addition, strong expression of mismatch repair enzymes could be seen in numerous cells, including fibroblasts, throughout the synovium.
CONCLUSIONS—Applying the currently used and established markers for MSI, the data show for the first time that MSI does not appear to have an important role in alteration of rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts into an aggressive phenotype. On the other hand, strong mismatch repair enzyme synthesis in rheumatoid synovium supports the hypothesis of continuing DNA repair, presumably due to long term, inflammation induced DNA damage.
As critical regulators of numerous cell signaling pathways, tyrosine kinases are implicated in the pathogenesis of several diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In the absence of disease, synoviocytes produce factors that provide nutrition and lubrication for the surrounding cartilage tissue; few cellular infiltrates are seen in the synovium. In RA, however, macrophages, neutrophils, T cells and B cells infiltrate the synovium and produce cytokines, chemokines and degradative enzymes that promote inflammation and joint destruction. In addition, the synovial lining expands owing to the proliferation of synoviocytes and infiltration of inflammatory cells to form a pannus, which invades the surrounding bone and cartilage. Many of these cell responses are regulated by tyrosine kinases that operate in specific signaling pathways, and inhibition of a number of these kinases might be expected to provide benefit in RA.
Cellular mechanisms accounting for the osteolysis of rheumatoid erosions are poorly understood. Cells were isolated and characterised from the synovium of 16 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and four patients with osteoarthritis and their ability to resorb bone was assessed using a scanning electron microscope bone resorption assay. Macrophages were the major cell type isolated from the synovium of patients with RA. These produced extensive roughening of the bone surface without resorption pit formation. This low grade type of bone resorption was not affected by systemic (calcitonin, parathyroid hormone, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3) or local (interleukin 1, prostaglandin E2) factors influencing bone resorption. Macrophage mediated bone resorption differs qualitatively and quantitatively from that of osteoclasts but is likely to play an important part in the development of marginal erosions in RA.
Cells of the monocytic lineage play fundamental roles in the regulation of health, ranging from the initiation and resolution of inflammation to bone homeostasis. In rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the inflamed synovium exhibits characteristic infiltration of macrophages along with local osteoclast maturation, which, together, drive chronic inflammation and downstream articular destruction. The aim of this study was to explore an entirely novel route of immunoglobulin-mediated regulation, involving simultaneous suppression of the inflammatory and erosive processes in the synovium.
Using in vivo and in vitro studies of human cells and a murine model of RA, the ability of staphylococcal protein A (SPA) to interact with and modulate cells of the monocytic lineage was tested. In addition, the efficacy of SPA as a therapeutic agent was evaluated in murine collagen-induced arthritis (CIA).
SPA showed a capacity to appropriate circulating IgG, by generating small immunoglobulin complexes that interacted with monocytes, macrophages, and preosteoclasts. Formation of these complexes resulted in Fcγ receptor type I–dependent polarization of macrophages to a regulatory phenotype, rendering them unresponsive to activators such as interferon-γ. The antiinflammatory complexes also had the capacity to directly inhibit differentiation of preosteoclasts into osteoclasts in humans. Moreover, administration of SPA in the early stages of disease substantially alleviated the clinical and histologic erosive features of CIA in mice.
These findings demonstrate the overarching utility of immunoglobulin complexes for the prevention and treatment of inflammatory diseases. The results shed light on the interface between immunoglobulin complex–mediated pathways, osteoclastogenesis, and associated pathologic processes. Thus, therapeutic agents designed to harness all of these properties may be an effective treatment for arthritis, by targeting both the innate inflammatory response and prodestructive pathways.
Macrophages play a central role in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). There is an imbalance of inflammatory and antiinflammatory macrophages in RA synovium. Although the polarization and heterogeneity of macrophages in RA have not been fully uncovered, the identity of macrophages in RA can potentially be defined by their products, including the co-stimulatory molecules, scavenger receptors, different cytokines/chemokines and receptors, and transcription factors. In the last decade, efforts to understand the polarization, apoptosis regulation, and novel signaling pathways in macrophages, as well as how distinct activated macrophages influence disease progression, have led to strategies that target macrophages with varied specificity and selectivity. Major targets that are related to macrophage development and apoptosis include TNF-α, IL-1, IL-6, GM-CSF, M-CSF, death receptor 5 (DR5), Fas, and others, as listed in Table 1. Combined data from clinical, preclinical, and animal studies of inhibitors of these targets have provided valuable insights into their roles in the disease progression and, subsequently, have led to the evolving therapeutic paradigms in RA. In this review, we propose that reestablishment of macrophage equilibrium by inhibiting the development of, and/or eliminating, the proinflammatory macrophages will be an effective therapeutic approach for RA and other autoimmune diseases.
Macrophage; Polarization; Rheumatoid arthritis; Therapy; Management; Reform; Removal; Joint recruitment; Inflammation; Depletion; TRAIL
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic, autoimmune, and complex inflammatory disease leading to bone and cartilage destruction, whose cause remains obscure. Accumulation of genetic susceptibility, environmental factors, and dysregulated immune responses are necessary for mounting this self-reacting disease. Inflamed joints are infiltrated by a heterogeneous population of cellular and soluble mediators of the immune system, such as T cells, B cells, macrophages, cytokines, and prostaglandins (PGs). Prostaglandins are lipid inflammatory mediators derived from the arachidonic acid by multienzymatic reactions. They both sustain homeostatic mechanisms and mediate pathogenic processes, including the inflammatory reaction. They play both beneficial and harmful roles during inflammation, according to their site of action and the etiology of the inflammatory response. With respect to the role of PGs in inflammation, they can be effective mediators in the pathophysiology of RA. Thus the use of agonists or antagonists of PG receptors may be considered as a new therapeutic protocol in RA. In this paper, we try to elucidate the role of PGs in the immunopathology of RA.
Recent data are presented which indicate a critical role for interleukin (IL)‐18 in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The T cells and macrophages invading the synovium or in the synovial fluid are the chief cellular targets of IL‐18 in RA. Neutrophils, dendritic cells and endothelial cells may also be cellular mediators of IL‐18. The direct effect of IL‐18 on fibroblast‐like synoviocytes or chondrocytes may not be essential or important. In RA, IL‐18, which is mainly produced by macrophages, activates T cells and macrophages to produce proinflammatory cytokines, chemokines, adhesion molecules and RANKL which, in turn, perpetuate chronic inflammation and induce bone and cartilage destruction.
Macrophages that accumulate in the synovium of rheumatoid arthritis patients play an important role in the pathogenesis of this inflammatory disease. However, the mechanism by which macrophages are attracted into the inflamed synovium and accumulate there has not been completely delineated. The results of this study show that rheumatoid arthritis synovial stromal cells produce the chemokines monocyte chemotactic protein-1 and IL-8, and these have the capacity to attract peripheral monocytes. These results suggest that one of the mechanisms by which macrophages accumulate in the inflamed synovium is by responding to the chemokines produced locally.
chemokine; monocyte; rheumatoid arthritis
Acetylcholine, the principal vagus neurotransmitter, inhibits inflammation by suppressing the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines through a mechanism dependent on the α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit (alpha7nAChR) that explains why vagus nerve stimulation is anti-inflammatory in nature. Strong expression of alpha7nAChR in the synovium of rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis patients was detected. Peripheral macrophages and synovial fibroblasts respond in vitro to specific alpha7nAChR cholinergic stimulation with potent inhibition of proinflammatory cytokines. Fibroblasts balance inflammatory mechanisms and arthritis development through feedback cholinergic stimulation by nearby immune cells. Collagen induced arthritis in alpha7nAChR(-/-) mice was significantly severe and showed increased synovial inflammation and joint destruction compared to the wild-type mice. Similar to vagal nerve stimulation and alpha7nAChR agonists, polyunsaturated fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) also suppress inflammation. In view of their similar anti-inflammatory actions, it is proposed that vagal nerve stimulation, alpha7nAChR agonists and EPA and DHA may augment the formation of anti-inflammatory lipid molecules: lipoxins, resolvins, protectins and maresins. This implies that therapies directed at regulation of the cholinergic and alpha7nAChR mediated mechanisms and enhancing the formation of lipoxins, resolvins, protectins and maresins may halt and/or ameliorate rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other rheumatological conditions.
A significant macrophage and T-cell infiltrate commonly occurs in inflammatory joint conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis that have significant bone destruction. Cytokines produced by activated macrophages and T cells are implicated in arthritis pathogenesis and are involved in osteoclast-mediated bone resorption. The scope of the present review is to analyze current knowledge and to provide a better understanding of how macrophage-derived factors promote the differentiation of a novel T-helper subset (Th17) that promotes osteoclast formation and activation.
Contact-mediated signaling of monocytes by human stimulated T lymphocytes (TL) is a potent proinflammatory mechanism that triggers massive upregulation of the proinflammatory cytokines IL-1 and tumor necrosis factor-α. These two cytokines play an important part in chronic destructive diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis. To date this cell–cell contact appears to be a major endogenous mechanism to display such an activity in monocyte-macrophages. Since TL and monocyte-macrophages play a pivotal part in the pathogenesis of chronic inflammatory diseases, we investigated the possible ligands and counter-ligands involved in this cell–cell interaction. We also characterized an inhibitory molecule interfering in this process, apolipoprotein A-I. This review aims to summarize the state of the art and importance of contact-mediated monocyte activation by stimulated TL in cytokine production in rheumatoid arthritis and mechanisms that might control it.
cytokines; inflammation; monocytes; rheumatoid arthritis; T lymphocytes
Mast cells have been implicated to play a functional role in arthritis, especially in autoantibody-positive disease. Among the cytokines involved in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), IL-17 is an important inflammatory mediator. Recent data suggest that the synovial mast cell is a main producer of IL-17, although T cells have also been implicated as prominent IL-17 producers as well. We aimed to identify IL-17 expression by mast cells and T cells in synovium of arthritis patients.
Synovial samples of anticitrullinated protein antibody-positive (ACPA+) and ACPA-negative (ACPA-) RA and osteoarthritis (OA) patients were stained for IL-17 in combination with CD117 (mast cells), CD3 (T cells) and CD68 (macrophages). Concentrations of IL-17 in synovial fluid were determined by ELISA.
The number of IL-17+ cells in synovium was comparable in all groups. Although the vast majority of IL-17+ cells are mast cells, no difference in the percentage of IL-17+ mast cells was observed. Nonetheless, levels of IL-17 in synovial fluid were increased in ACPA+ RA patients compared to ACPA- RA and OA patients.
The synovial mast cell is the main IL-17+ cell in all three arthritis groups analyzed. These data are relevant for studies aimed at blocking IL-17 in the treatment of arthritis.
Anti-Sa antibodies are detected in the serum of 20–47% of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. These antibodies have a high degree of specificity for the disease, and appear to identify a subset of early rheumatoid arthritis patients destined to have aggressive and destructive disease. It has recently been confirmed that anti-Sa antibodies are directed to citrullinated vimentin, thus placing them in the anti-citrulline family of autoantibodies. The Sa antigen has previously been shown to be present in synovium. This, along with the demonstration of citrullinated proteins in rheumatoid synovium, suggests that anti-Sa antibodies may play a pathogenetic role in the initiation and/or persistence of rheumatoid synovitis.
anti-citrulline antibodies; anti-Sa; autoantibodies; prognosis; rheumatoid arthritis; synovium
A characteristic feature of rheumatoid arthritis is the abundance of inflammatory cells in the diseased joint. Two major components of this infiltrate are neutrophils in the synovial fluid and macrophages in the synovial tissue. These cells produce cytokines including tumor necrosis factor α and other proinflammatory mediators that likely drive the disease through its effector phases. To investigate what mechanisms underlie the recruitment of these cells into the synovial fluid and tissue, we performed expression analyses of chemoattractant receptors in a related family that includes the anaphylatoxin receptors and the formyl-MetLeuPhe receptor. We then examined the effect of targeted disruption of two abundantly expressed chemoattractant receptors, the receptors for C3a and C5a, on arthritogenesis in a mouse model of disease. We report that genetic ablation of C5a receptor expression completely protects mice from arthritis.
arthritis; C5a receptors; granulocytes; chemoattractants; monocytes
OBJECTIVES—Examination of synovial tissue (ST) obtained at surgery because of end stage destructive rheumatoid arthritis (RA) showed that macrophages and fibroblasts are the major cell types at the cartilage-pannus junction (CPJ). This study aimed at defining the cell infiltrate and mediators of joint destruction in ST selected at arthroscopy from the CPJ in patients with RA who did not require joint surgery.
METHODS—Paired synovial biopsy specimens were obtained at arthroscopy from ST adjacent to the CPJ and the suprapatellar pouch from the knee joints of 17 patients with RA. Immunohistological analysis was performed using monoclonal antibodies to detect T cells, B cells, plasma cells, macrophages, fibroblast-like synoviocytes, mast cells, and granzyme B+ cytotoxic cells as well as the expression of metalloproteinase (MMP)-1, MMP-3, and MMP-13. The sections were evaluated by computer assisted image analysis and semiquantitative analysis.
RESULTS—The cell infiltrate comprised mainly T cells, macrophages, and plasma cells. The ST was also infiltrated by the other cell types, but at lower numbers. Expression of MMPs was abundant, especially MMP-3. The features of ST at the CPJ were generally similar to those at the suprapatellar pouch.
CONCLUSIONS—The synovium at the CPJ in patients with RA who did not require joint surgery exhibits, in general, the same type of cell infiltrate and expression of MMPs and granzymes as ST from the suprapatellar pouch. The pathological changes that have been described at the CPJ in patients with RA with end stage, destructive disease may well reflect the transition to a process in which macrophages, fibroblast-like synoviocytes, and other cell types become increasingly important.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease targeting multiple joints. The synovium is the primary site of the inflammatory process, which if untreated leads to irreversible damage to the adjacent cartilage and bone. It is now well established that autoantibodies that are characteristic of RA, including rheumatoid factor (RF) and anti-citrulluninated protein antibodies (ACPA), are present before clinical disease onset. Studies in both humans and animal models are beginning to provide new insights into how this asymptomatic autoimmunity evolves into an inflammatory process that is localized in the synovium.
Once RA synovitis established, a number of amplification mechanisms serve to sustain the process leading to the persistence of the disease. These mechanisms include engagement of the resident mesenchymal cells and the establishment of ectopic lymphoid structures in the synovium, although the relationship between these lymphoid structures and the presence of RA autoantibodies remains unclear.
An enhanced understanding of the mechanisms that initiate and sustain RA synovitis offers unprecedented opportunities for therapeutics, and ultimately prevention strategies.
Rheumatoid; synovium; innate; lymphoid neogenesis.
BACKGROUND: Tissues undergoing a chronic inflammatory process, such as the synovium in rheumatoid arthritis, are characterized by the infiltration of lymphocytes of different subsets and activation of monocyte/macrophages. Interleukin-1 (IL-1), a monocyte/ macrophage product that stimulates synovial fibroblasts to produce matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), prostaglandins, and other cytokines, also has profound effects on the synthesis of extracellular matrix components such as type I collagen. In previous studies, we have shown that synovial fibroblasts and chondrocytes isolated from human joint tissues are particularly sensitive to prostaglandins, which modulate the effects of IL-1 on collagen gene expression in an autocrine manner. MATERIALS AND METHODS: BALBc/3T3 fibroblasts were treated with IL-1 and prostaglandins in the absence and presence of indomethacin to inhibit endogenous prostaglandin biosynthesis. Collagen synthesis was analyzed by SDS-PAGE as [3H]proline-labeled, secreted proteins, and prostaglandin production and cyclic adenosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate (camp) content were assayed. The expression of type I collagen gene (Col1a1) promoter-reporter gene constructs was examined in transient transfection experiments, and the binding of nuclear factors to the Col1a1 promoter region spanning -222 bp/+ 116 bp was analyzed by DNase I footprinting and electrophoretic mobility shift (EMSA) assays. RESULTS: IL-1 increased the synthesis of type I and type III collagens in BALBc/3T3 fibroblasts; greater increases were observed when IL-1-stimulated synthesis of PGE2 was blocked by indomethacin. Transient transfection experiments demonstrated dose-dependent inhibition of the-222 bp Col1a1 promoter by exogenously added prostaglandins with the order of potency of PGF2alpha > PGE2 > PGE1 DNase I footprinting showed increased protection, which extended from the region immediately upstream of the TATA box, owing to the binding of nuclear factors from PGE2- or PGE1-treated BALBc/3T3 cells. EMSA analysis showed zinc-dependent differences in the binding of nuclear factors from untreated and prostaglandin-treated cells to the -84 bp/-29 bp region of the Col1a1 promoter. CONCLUSIONS: These results show that the inhibition of Col1a1 expression by IL-1 in fibroblasts is mediated by prostaglandins at the transcriptional level and suggest that PGE-responsive factors may interact directly or indirectly with basal regulatory elements in the proximal promoter region of the Col1a1 gene.
OBJECTIVES--Both sensory and sympathetic nerve fibres are depleted in the synovium in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The hypothesis that the induction of an inflammatory response in the synovium is capable of causing depletion of nerve fibres was tested. METHODS--To investigate this phenomenon experimental arthritis in the rat was induced by three different methods and the synovium was examined for evidence of nerve depletion by immunocytochemistry. RESULTS--In a synovitis induced by latex spheres, a mainly macrophage foreign body type reaction, no nerve depletion was seen. In contrast both in an antigen-induced and a hydrogen peroxide-induced model of arthritis nerve fibre depletion was observed. This appeared to affect sensory and sympathetic nerve fibres equally. Nerve fibre depletion was only seen in areas of inflammatory cell infiltration indicating that a mixed lymphocyte and macrophage population of cells may be necessary for this effect. CONCLUSIONS--An inflammatory response, containing lymphocytes and macrophages, in the synovium is capable of the depletion of the finely myelinated and unmyelinated neuropeptide-containing nerves.