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author:("schetz, Georg")
1.  β-catenin is a central mediator of pro-fibrotic Wnt signaling in systemic sclerosis 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2012;71(5):761-767.
Objectives
Pathologic fibroblast activation drives fibrosis of the skin and internal organs in patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc). β-catenin is an integral part of adherens junctions and a central component of canonical Wnt signaling. Here, the authors addressed the role of β-catenin in fibroblasts for the development of SSc dermal fibrosis.
Methods
Nuclear accumulation of β-catenin in fibroblasts was assessed by triple staining for β-catenin, prolyl-4-hydroxylase-β and 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI). The expression of Wnt proteins in the skin was analysed by real-time PCR and immunohistochemistry. Mice with fibroblast-specific stabilisation or fibroblast-specific depletion were used to evaluate the role of β-catenin in fibrosis.
Results
The auhors found significantly increased nuclear levels of β-catenin in fibroblasts in SSc skin compared to fibroblasts in the skin of healthy individuals. The accumulation of β-catenin resulted from increased expression of Wnt-1 and Wnt-10b in SSc. The authors further showed that the nuclear accumulation of β-catenin has direct implications for the development of fibrosis: Mice with fibroblast-specific stabilisation of β-catenin rapidly developed fibrosis within 2 weeks with dermal thickening, accumulation of collagen and differentiation of resting fibroblasts into myofibroblasts. By contrast, fibroblast-specific deletion of β-catenin significantly reduced bleomycin-induced dermal fibrosis.
Conclusions
The present study findings identify β-catenin as a key player of fibroblast activation and tissue fibrosis in SSc. Although further translational studies are necessary to test the efficacy and tolerability of β-catenin/Wnt inhibition in SSc, the present findings may have clinical implications, because selective inhibitors of β-catenin/Wnt signaling have recently entered clinical trials.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2011-200568
PMCID: PMC3951949  PMID: 22328737
2.  Redox Modulation of HMGB1-Related Signaling 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2014;20(7):1075-1085.
Abstract
Significance: In the cells' nuclei, high-mobility group box protein 1 (HMGB1) is a nonhistone chromatin-binding protein involved in the regulation of transcription. Extracellularly, HMGB1 acts as a danger molecule with properties of a proinflammatory cytokine. It can be actively secreted from myeloid cells or passively leak from any type of injured, necrotic cell. Increased serum levels of active HMGB1 are often found in pathogenic inflammatory conditions and correlate with worse prognoses in cancer, sepsis, and autoimmunity. By damaging cells, superoxide and peroxynitrite promote leakage of HMGB1. Recent Advances: The activity of HMGB1 strongly depends on its redox state: Inflammatory-active HMGB1 requires an intramolecular disulfide bond (Cys23 and Cys45) and a reduced Cys106. Oxidation of the latter blocks its stimulatory activity and promotes immune tolerance. Critical Issues: Reactive oxygen and nitrogen species create an oxidative environment and can be detoxified by superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase, and peroxidases. Modifications of the oxidative environment influence HMGB1 activity. Future Directions: In this review, we hypothesize that manipulations of an oxidative environment by SOD mimics or by hydrogen sulfide are prone to decrease tissue damage. Both the concomitant decreased HMGB1 release and its redox chemical modifications ameliorate inflammation and tissue damage. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 20, 1075–1085.
doi:10.1089/ars.2013.5179
PMCID: PMC3928832  PMID: 23373897
3.  Diabetes Is an Independent Predictor for Severe Osteoarthritis 
Diabetes Care  2013;36(2):403-409.
OBJECTIVE
To evaluate if type 2 diabetes is an independent risk predictor for severe osteoarthritis (OA).
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
Population-based cohort study with an age- and sex-stratified random sample of 927 men and women aged 40–80 years and followed over 20 years (1990–2010).
RESULTS
Rates of arthroplasty (95% CI) were 17.7 (9.4–30.2) per 1,000 person-years in patients with type 2 diabetes and 5.3 (4.1–6.6) per 1,000 person-years in those without (P < 0.001). Type 2 diabetes emerged as an independent risk predictor for arthroplasty: hazard ratios (95% CI), 3.8 (2.1–6.8) (P < 0.001) in an unadjusted analysis and 2.1 (1.1–3.8) (P = 0.023) after adjustment for age, BMI, and other risk factors for OA. The probability of arthroplasty increased with disease duration of type 2 diabetes and applied to men and women, as well as subgroups according to age and BMI. Our findings were corroborated in cross-sectional evaluation by more severe clinical symptoms of OA and structural joint changes in subjects with type 2 diabetes compared with those without type 2 diabetes.
CONCLUSIONS
Type 2 diabetes predicts the development of severe OA independent of age and BMI. Our findings strengthen the concept of a strong metabolic component in the pathogenesis of OA.
doi:10.2337/dc12-0924
PMCID: PMC3554306  PMID: 23002084
4.  Correction: Differential Roles of MAPK Kinases MKK3 and MKK6 in Osteoclastogenesis and Bone Loss 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):10.1371/annotation/4fbfa4f0-cb27-4ec4-80d6-3b0ed5e9e8b8.
doi:10.1371/annotation/4fbfa4f0-cb27-4ec4-80d6-3b0ed5e9e8b8
PMCID: PMC3894189
5.  Differential Roles of MAPK Kinases MKK3 and MKK6 in Osteoclastogenesis and Bone Loss 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e84818.
Bone mass is maintained by osteoclasts that resorb bone and osteoblasts that promote matrix deposition and mineralization. Bone homeostasis is altered in chronic inflammation as well as in post-menopausal loss of estrogen, which favors osteoclast activity that leads to osteoporosis. The MAPK p38α is a key regulator of bone loss and p38 inhibitors preserve bone mass by inhibiting osteoclastogenesis. p38 function is regulated by two upstream MAPK kinases, namely MKK3 and MKK6. The goal of this study was to assess the effect of MKK3- or MKK6-deficiency on osteoclastogenesis in vitro and on bone loss in ovariectomy-induced osteoporosis in mice. We demonstrated that MKK3 but not MKK6, regulates osteoclast differentiation from bone marrow cells in vitro. Expression of NFATc1, a master transcription factor in osteoclastogenesis, is decreased in cells lacking MKK3 but not MKK6. Expression of osteoclast-specific genes Cathepsin K, osteoclast-associated receptor and MMP9, was inhibited in MKK3−/− cells. The effect of MKK-deficiency on ovariectomy-induced bone loss was then evaluated in female WT, MKK3−/− and MKK6−/− mice by micro-CT analysis. Bone loss was partially inhibited in MKK3−/− as well as MKK6−/− mice, despite normal osteoclastogenesis in MKK6−/− cells. This correlated with the lower osteoclast numbers in the MKK-deficient ovariectomized mice. These studies suggest that MKK3 and MKK6 differentially regulate bone loss due to estrogen withdrawal. MKK3 directly mediates osteoclastogenesis while MKK6 likely contributes to pro-inflammatory cytokine production that promotes osteoclast formation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0084818
PMCID: PMC3882259  PMID: 24400116
6.  Assessing Risk Prediction Models Using Individual Participant Data From Multiple Studies 
Pennells, Lisa | Kaptoge, Stephen | White, Ian R. | Thompson, Simon G. | Wood, Angela M. | Tipping, Robert W. | Folsom, Aaron R. | Couper, David J. | Ballantyne, Christie M. | Coresh, Josef | Goya Wannamethee, S. | Morris, Richard W. | Kiechl, Stefan | Willeit, Johann | Willeit, Peter | Schett, Georg | Ebrahim, Shah | Lawlor, Debbie A. | Yarnell, John W. | Gallacher, John | Cushman, Mary | Psaty, Bruce M. | Tracy, Russ | Tybjærg-Hansen, Anne | Price, Jackie F. | Lee, Amanda J. | McLachlan, Stela | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Wareham, Nicholas J. | Brenner, Hermann | Schöttker, Ben | Müller, Heiko | Jansson, Jan-Håkan | Wennberg, Patrik | Salomaa, Veikko | Harald, Kennet | Jousilahti, Pekka | Vartiainen, Erkki | Woodward, Mark | D'Agostino, Ralph B. | Bladbjerg, Else-Marie | Jørgensen, Torben | Kiyohara, Yutaka | Arima, Hisatomi | Doi, Yasufumi | Ninomiya, Toshiharu | Dekker, Jacqueline M. | Nijpels, Giel | Stehouwer, Coen D. A. | Kauhanen, Jussi | Salonen, Jukka T. | Meade, Tom W. | Cooper, Jackie A. | Cushman, Mary | Folsom, Aaron R. | Psaty, Bruce M. | Shea, Steven | Döring, Angela | Kuller, Lewis H. | Grandits, Greg | Gillum, Richard F. | Mussolino, Michael | Rimm, Eric B. | Hankinson, Sue E. | Manson, JoAnn E. | Pai, Jennifer K. | Kirkland, Susan | Shaffer, Jonathan A. | Shimbo, Daichi | Bakker, Stephan J. L. | Gansevoort, Ron T. | Hillege, Hans L. | Amouyel, Philippe | Arveiler, Dominique | Evans, Alun | Ferrières, Jean | Sattar, Naveed | Westendorp, Rudi G. | Buckley, Brendan M. | Cantin, Bernard | Lamarche, Benoît | Barrett-Connor, Elizabeth | Wingard, Deborah L. | Bettencourt, Richele | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Aspelund, Thor | Sigurdsson, Gunnar | Thorsson, Bolli | Kavousi, Maryam | Witteman, Jacqueline C. | Hofman, Albert | Franco, Oscar H. | Howard, Barbara V. | Zhang, Ying | Best, Lyle | Umans, Jason G. | Onat, Altan | Sundström, Johan | Michael Gaziano, J. | Stampfer, Meir | Ridker, Paul M. | Michael Gaziano, J. | Ridker, Paul M. | Marmot, Michael | Clarke, Robert | Collins, Rory | Fletcher, Astrid | Brunner, Eric | Shipley, Martin | Kivimäki, Mika | Ridker, Paul M. | Buring, Julie | Cook, Nancy | Ford, Ian | Shepherd, James | Cobbe, Stuart M. | Robertson, Michele | Walker, Matthew | Watson, Sarah | Alexander, Myriam | Butterworth, Adam S. | Angelantonio, Emanuele Di | Gao, Pei | Haycock, Philip | Kaptoge, Stephen | Pennells, Lisa | Thompson, Simon G. | Walker, Matthew | Watson, Sarah | White, Ian R. | Wood, Angela M. | Wormser, David | Danesh, John
American Journal of Epidemiology  2013;179(5):621-632.
Individual participant time-to-event data from multiple prospective epidemiologic studies enable detailed investigation into the predictive ability of risk models. Here we address the challenges in appropriately combining such information across studies. Methods are exemplified by analyses of log C-reactive protein and conventional risk factors for coronary heart disease in the Emerging Risk Factors Collaboration, a collation of individual data from multiple prospective studies with an average follow-up duration of 9.8 years (dates varied). We derive risk prediction models using Cox proportional hazards regression analysis stratified by study and obtain estimates of risk discrimination, Harrell's concordance index, and Royston's discrimination measure within each study; we then combine the estimates across studies using a weighted meta-analysis. Various weighting approaches are compared and lead us to recommend using the number of events in each study. We also discuss the calculation of measures of reclassification for multiple studies. We further show that comparison of differences in predictive ability across subgroups should be based only on within-study information and that combining measures of risk discrimination from case-control studies and prospective studies is problematic. The concordance index and discrimination measure gave qualitatively similar results throughout. While the concordance index was very heterogeneous between studies, principally because of differing age ranges, the increments in the concordance index from adding log C-reactive protein to conventional risk factors were more homogeneous.
doi:10.1093/aje/kwt298
PMCID: PMC3927974  PMID: 24366051
C index; coronary heart disease; D measure; individual participant data; inverse variance; meta-analysis; risk prediction; weighting
7.  Functions of Fos phosphorylation in bone homeostasis, cytokine response and tumorigenesis 
Oncogene  2010;30(13):10.1038/onc.2010.542.
Mice lacking c-fos develop osteopetrosis due to a block in osteoclast differentiation. Carboxy-terminal phosphorylation of Fos on serine 374 by ERK1/2 and serine 362 by RSK1/2 regulates Fos stability and transactivation potential in vitro. To assess the physiological relevance of Fos phosphorylation in vivo, serine 362 and/or serine 374 were replaced by alanine (Fos362A, Fos374A and FosAA) or by phospho-mimetic aspartic acid (FosDD). Homozygous mutants were healthy and skeletogenesis was largely unaffected. Fos C-terminal phosphorylation, predominantly on serine 374, was found important for osteoclast differentiation in vitro and affected lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced cytokine response in vitro and in vivo. Importantly, skin papilloma development was delayed in FosAA, Fos362A and Rsk2-deficient mice, accelerated in FosDD mice and unaffected in Fos374A mutants. Furthermore, the related Fos protein and putative RSK2 target Fra1 failed to substitute for Fos in papilloma development. This indicates that phosphorylation of serines 362 and 374 exerts context-dependent roles in modulating Fos activity in vivo. Inhibition of Fos C-terminal phosphorylation on serine 362 by targeting RSK2 might be of therapeutic relevance for skin tumors.
doi:10.1038/onc.2010.542
PMCID: PMC3838948  PMID: 21119595
AP-1; Fos; knock-in; mouse; phosphorylation
8.  Cortical remodeling during menopause, rheumatoid arthritis, glucocorticoid and bisphosphonate therapy 
Bone mass, bone geometry and its changes are based on trabecular and cortical bone remodeling. Whereas the effects of estrogen loss, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), glucocorticoid (GC) and bisphosphonate (BP) on trabecular bone remodeling have been well described, the effects of these conditions on the cortical bone geometry are less known. The present review will report current knowledge on the effects of RA, GC and BP on cortical bone geometry and its clinical relevance. Estrogen deficiency, RA and systemic GC lead to enhanced endosteal bone resorption. While in estrogen deficiency and under GC therapy endosteal resorption is insufficiently compensated by periosteal apposition, RA is associated with some periosteal bone apposition resulting in a maintained load-bearing capacity and stiffness. In contrast, BP treatment leads to filling of endosteal bone cavities at the epiphysis; however, periosteal apposition at the bone shaft seems to be suppressed. In summary, estrogen loss, RA and GC show similar effects on endosteal bone remodeling with an increase in bone resorption, whereas their effect on periosteal bone remodeling may differ. Despite over 50 years of GC therapy and over 25 years of PB therapy, there is still need for better understanding of the skeletal effects of these drugs as well as of inflammatory disease such as RA on cortical bone remodeling.
doi:10.1186/ar4180
PMCID: PMC3672822  PMID: 23521873
9.  The extracellular release of DNA and HMGB1 from Jurkat T cells during in vitro necrotic cell death 
Innate immunity  2012;18(5):727-737.
In innate immunity, dead and dying cells release internal constituents that can serve as DAMPs (damage-associated molecular patterns) or alarmins. This release occurs more abundantly during necrosis than apoptosis and may account for the differences in the immunological properties of these death forms. To elucidate DAMP release in necrosis, we have compared the levels of two nuclear molecules (DNA and HMGB1, a non-histone protein with alarmin activity) in the media following necrosis of Jurkat T cells by freeze-thawing, ethanol, heat or hydrogen peroxide. In our experiments, DNA release was measured by fluorimetry with the dye PicoGreen, while HMGB1 was measured by Western blotting. As results of this study show, each form of necrosis is associated with a distinct pattern of DNA and HMGB1 release with respect to kinetics and amounts. Of these, freeze-thawing produced the highest and most rapid increase in HMGB1 and DNA levels although the released DNA was subject to nuclease digestion; in addition, freeze-thawing led to the production of particles measured by flow cytometry. Together, these results indicate that experimental necrosis leads to diverse patterns of nuclear molecule release which could affect their immunological activity.
doi:10.1177/1753425912437981
PMCID: PMC3724467  PMID: 22344226
alarmin; DNA; HMGB1; immune activation; necrosis
10.  Determinants of Discordance in Patients’ and Physicians’ Rating of Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease Activity 
Arthritis care & research  2012;64(2):206-214.
Objective
To assess the determinants of patients’ (PTGL) and physicians’ (MDGL) global assessment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) activity and factors associated with discordance among them.
Methods
A total of 7,028 patients in the Quantitative Standard Monitoring of Patients with RA study had PTGL and MDGL assessed at the same clinic visit on a 0–10-cm visual analog scale (VAS). Three patient groups were defined: concordant rating group (PTGL and MDGL within ±2 cm), higher patient rating group (PTGL exceeding MDGL by >2 cm), and lower patient rating group (PTGL less than MDGL by >2 cm). Multivariable regression analysis was used to identify determinants of PTGL and MDGL and their discordance.
Results
The mean ± SD VAS scores for PTGL and MDGL were 4.01 ± 2.70 and 2.91 ± 2.37, respectively. Pain was overwhelmingly the single most important determinant of PTGL, followed by fatigue. In contrast, MDGL was most influenced by swollen joint count (SJC), followed by erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and tender joint count (TJC). A total of 4,454 (63.4%), 2,106 (30%), and 468 (6.6%) patients were in the concordant, higher, and lower patient rating groups, respectively. Odds of higher patient rating increased with higher pain, fatigue, psychological distress, age, and morning stiffness, and decreased with higher SJC, TJC, and ESR. Lower patient rating odds increased with higher SJC, TJC, and ESR, and decreased with lower fatigue levels.
Conclusion
Nearly 36% of patients had discordance in RA activity assessment from their physicians. Sensitivity to the “disease experience” of patients, particularly pain and fatigue, is warranted for effective care of RA.
doi:10.1002/acr.20685
PMCID: PMC3703925  PMID: 22052672
11.  The Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase p38α Regulates Tubular Damage in Murine Anti-Glomerular Basement Membrane Nephritis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56316.
p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) is thought to play a central role in acute and chronic inflammatory responses. Whether p38MAPK plays a pathogenic role in crescentic GN (GN) and which of its four isoforms is preferentially involved in kidney inflammation is not definitely known. We thus examined expression and activation of p38MAPK isoforms during anti-glomerular basement membrane (GBM) nephritis. Therefore, p38α conditional knockout mice (MxCre-p38αΔ/Δ) were used to examine the role of p38α in anti-GBM induced nephritis. Both wild type and MxCre-p38αΔ/Δ mice developed acute renal failure over time. Histological examinations revealed a reduced monocyte influx and less tubular damage in MxCre-p38αΔ/Δ mice, whereas glomerular crescent formation and renal fibrosis was similar. Likewise, the levels of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF, IL-1 and IL-10 were similar, but IL-8 was even up-regulated in MxCre-p38αΔ/Δ mice. In contrast, we could detect strong down-regulation of chemotactic cytokines such as CCL-2, -5 and -7, in the kidneys of MxCre-p38αΔ/Δ mice. In conclusion, p38α is the primary p38MAPK isoform expressed in anti-GBM nephritis and selectively affects inflammatory cell influx and tubular damage. Full protection from nephritis is however not achieved as renal failure and structural damage still occurs.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0056316
PMCID: PMC3575386  PMID: 23441175
13.  Entheses and Bones in Spondyloarthritis: 2008 Annual Research and Education Meeting of the Spondyloarthritis Research and Therapy Network (SPARTAN) 
The Journal of rheumatology  2009;36(7):1527-1531.
Summary
The Spondyloarthritis Research and Therapy Network (SPARTAN), founded in 2003 to promote research, education, and treatment of ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and related forms of spondyloarthritis (SpA), held its sixth Annual Research and Education Meeting in July 2008 in Cleveland, Ohio. The overall theme of the meeting was entheses and bones in SpA, which included presentations on the anatomy and physiology of the synovial-entheseal complex; bone formation and destruction, and the impact of inflammation on bone; the Th17 axis, HLA-B27, IL23R, and ARTS1; and breakout sessions on epidemiology and registries.
doi:10.3899/jrheum.090122
PMCID: PMC3466478  PMID: 19567633
ankylosing spondylitis; epidemiology; spondyloarthritis; spondyloarthropathies
14.  T cells as key players for bone destruction in gouty arthritis? 
The deposition of monosodium urate (MSU) crystals in synovial fluid and tissue leads to gouty arthritis frequently associated with synovial inflammation and bone erosions. The cellular mechanism that links MSU crystals to an increased number of osteoclasts has not yet been fully understood. In a recent issue of Arthritis Research & Therapy Lee and colleagues proposed that bone destruction in chronic gouty arthritis is at least in part dependent on expression by T cells of receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL). The authors showed that pro-resorptive cytokines such as IL-1β, IL-6, and TNFα are expressed within tophi and stromal infiltrates. In vitro stimulation with MSU crystals revealed monocytes as a source for these cytokines, whereas T cells produce RANKL, the major trigger of osteoclastogenesis.
doi:10.1186/ar3508
PMCID: PMC3334629  PMID: 22136246
15.  Induction of osteoclastogenesis and bone loss by human autoantibodies against citrullinated vimentin 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2012;122(5):1791-1802.
Autoimmunity is complicated by bone loss. In human rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the most severe inflammatory joint disease, autoantibodies against citrullinated proteins are among the strongest risk factors for bone destruction. We therefore hypothesized that these autoantibodies directly influence bone metabolism. Here, we found a strong and specific association between autoantibodies against citrullinated proteins and serum markers for osteoclast-mediated bone resorption in RA patients. Moreover, human osteoclasts expressed enzymes eliciting protein citrullination, and specific N-terminal citrullination of vimentin was induced during osteoclast differentiation. Affinity-purified human autoantibodies against mutated citrullinated vimentin (MCV) not only bound to osteoclast surfaces, but also led to robust induction of osteoclastogenesis and bone-resorptive activity. Adoptive transfer of purified human MCV autoantibodies into mice induced osteopenia and increased osteoclastogenesis. This effect was based on the inducible release of TNF-α from osteoclast precursors and the subsequent increase of osteoclast precursor cell numbers with enhanced expression of activation and growth factor receptors. Our data thus suggest that autoantibody formation in response to citrullinated vimentin directly induces bone loss, providing a link between the adaptive immune system and bone.
doi:10.1172/JCI60975
PMCID: PMC3336988  PMID: 22505457
17.  Monosodium urate crystals induce extracellular DNA traps in neutrophils, eosinophils, and basophils but not in mononuclear cells 
Neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) are fibers of extracellular DNA released from neutrophils due to overwhelming phagocytic stimuli. The function of NETs is to trap and kill microbes to avoid spreading of potential pathogens. NETs are formed after encounter with various gram-positive and -negative bacteria but also in response to mediators causing sterile inflammation like interleukin-8 (IL-8), tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and phorbol myristate acetate (PMA). Here we show the formation of NETs (NETting) in response to monosodium urate (MSU) crystals as further model for sterile inflammation. We identified monocytes, neutrophils, and eosinophils as MSU phagocytosing cells. Basophils did not take up the crystals, instead they upregulated their activation marker CD203c after contact with MSU. Nevertheless, MSU crystals induced extracellular trap formation also in basophils, like in eosinophils and neutrophils, which phagocytose the crystals. In contrast, monocytes do not form NETs despite uptake of the MSU crystals. In contrast to the canonical stimuli like bacteria and PMA, MSU-induced NETosis was not abrogated by plasma. Our data show that MSU crystals induce extracellular DNA trap formation in all three granulocytes lineages (NETs, EETs, and BETs) but not in monocytes, and DNA externalization does not necessitate the uptake of the crystals.
doi:10.3389/fimmu.2012.00277
PMCID: PMC3432456  PMID: 22969769
neutrophil extracellular traps; NETs; MSU; granulocytes; bacteria; PMA; inflammation
18.  Bonding the foe – NETting neutrophils immobilize the pro-inflammatory monosodium urate crystals 
In the presence of sodium, uric acid from purine metabolism precipitates as monosodium urate (MSU) needles and forms renal calculi or causes gouty arthritis in kidneys and joints, respectively. The latter is characterized by red, hot, and swollen arthritic joints. Here we report the in vitro effect of MSU crystals on blood granulocytes and analyze their contribution to granuloma formation and neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) formation (NETosis) in synovial fluid of patients with gouty arthritis in vivo. We observed that MSU crystals induce NETosis in vitro in a reactive oxygen species (ROS)-dependent manner. Indeed, blocking ROS (e.g., the oxidative burst) by various anti-oxidants partially inhibited NETosis induced by MSU crystals. Analyses of synovial fluids and of tissue sections of patients suffering from gout revealed that NETs are also formed in vivo, especially during acute gouty flares and/or granuloma formation. Since prolonged exposure to NETs carries the risk for the development of chronic inflammation we also studied the opsonization of NETs, as a prerequisite for their clearance. The established dead cells’ opsonins C3b, galectin-9, and CRP decorated the residual dead cells’ corpses and opsonized these for disposal. Surprisingly, all three soluble pattern recognizing molecules spared the spread NET structures. We conclude that (i) MSU crystals are strong inducers of ROS-dependent NETosis and (ii) that the prolonged presence of NET-pathogen or NET-crystal aggregates observed in patients with systemic autoimmunity, especially in those with low serum DNase-1 activity, cannot be compensated by CRP, complement, and galectin-mediated phagocytic clearance.
doi:10.3389/fimmu.2012.00376
PMCID: PMC3517988  PMID: 23233855
NETosis; NETs; MSU; opsonins; inflammation; ROS; gout
21.  Platelet-derived serotonin links vascular disease and tissue fibrosis 
Blocking 5-HT2B receptor provides a therapeutic target for fibrotic diseases caused by activated platelet release of serotonin during vascular damage.
Vascular damage and platelet activation are associated with tissue remodeling in diseases such as systemic sclerosis, but the molecular mechanisms underlying this association have not been identified. In this study, we show that serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine [5-HT]) stored in platelets strongly induces extracellular matrix synthesis in interstitial fibroblasts via activation of 5-HT2B receptors (5-HT2B) in a transforming growth factor β (TGF-β)–dependent manner. Dermal fibrosis was reduced in 5-HT2B−/− mice using both inducible and genetic models of fibrosis. Pharmacologic inactivation of 5-HT2B also effectively prevented the onset of experimental fibrosis and ameliorated established fibrosis. Moreover, inhibition of platelet activation prevented fibrosis in different models of skin fibrosis. Consistently, mice deficient for TPH1, the rate-limiting enzyme for 5-HT production outside the central nervous system, showed reduced experimental skin fibrosis. These findings suggest that 5-HT/5-HT2B signaling links vascular damage and platelet activation to tissue remodeling and identify 5-HT2B as a novel therapeutic target to treat fibrotic diseases.
doi:10.1084/jem.20101629
PMCID: PMC3092343  PMID: 21518801
22.  Biochemical markers of ongoing joint damage in rheumatoid arthritis - current and future applications, limitations and opportunities 
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic systemic autoimmune disease associated with potentially debilitating joint inflammation, as well as altered skeletal bone metabolism and co-morbid conditions. Early diagnosis and aggressive treatment to control disease activity offers the highest likelihood of preserving function and preventing disability. Joint inflammation is characterized by synovitis, osteitis, and/or peri-articular osteopenia, often accompanied by development of subchondral bone erosions, as well as progressive joint space narrowing. Biochemical markers of joint cartilage and bone degradation may enable timely detection and assessment of ongoing joint damage, and their use in facilitating treatment strategies is under investigation. Early detection of joint damage may be assisted by the characterization of biochemical markers that identify patients whose joint damage is progressing rapidly and who are thus most in need of aggressive treatment, and that, alone or in combination, identify those individuals who are likely to respond best to a potential treatment, both in terms of limiting joint damage and relieving symptoms. The aims of this review are to describe currently available biochemical markers of joint metabolism in relation to the pathobiology of joint damage and systemic bone loss in RA; to assess the limitations of, and need for additional, novel biochemical markers in RA and other rheumatic diseases, and the strategies used for assay development; and to examine the feasibility of advancement of personalized health care using biochemical markers to select therapeutic agents to which a patient is most likely to respond.
doi:10.1186/ar3280
PMCID: PMC3132026  PMID: 21539724
24.  Structural damage in rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis: traditional views, novel insights gained from TNF blockade, and concepts for the future 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(Suppl 1):S4.
Structural changes of bone and cartilage are a hallmark of inflammatory joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), and ankylosing spondylitis (AS). Despite certain similarities – in particular, inflammation as the driving force for structural changes – the three major inflammatory joint diseases show considerably different pathologies. Whereas RA primarily results in bone and cartilage resorption, PsA combines destructive elements with anabolic bone responses, and AS is the prototype of a hyper-responsive joint disease associated with substantial bone and cartilage apposition. In the present review we summarize the clinical picture and pathophysiologic processes of bone and cartilage damage in RA, PsA, and AS, we describe the key insights obtained from the introduction of TNF blockade, and we discuss the future challenges and frontiers of structural damage in arthritis.
doi:10.1186/1478-6354-13-S1-S4
PMCID: PMC3123965  PMID: 21624183
25.  Cell-Intrinsic NF-κB Activation Is Critical for the Development of Natural Regulatory T Cells in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e20003.
Background
Naturally occurring CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ regulatory T (Treg) cells develop in the thymus and represent a mature T cell subpopulation critically involved in maintaining peripheral tolerance. The differentiation of Treg cells in the thymus requires T cell receptor (TCR)/CD28 stimulation along with cytokine-promoted Foxp3 induction. TCR-mediated nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) activation seems to be involved in differentiation of Treg cells because deletion of components of the NF-κB signaling pathway, as well as of NF-κB transcription factors, leads to markedly decreased Treg cell numbers in thymus and periphery.
Methodology/Principal Findings
To investigate if Treg cell-intrinsic NF-κB activation is required for thymic development and peripheral homeostasis of Treg cells we used transgenic (Tg) mice with thymocyte-specific expression of a stable IκBα mutant to inhibit NF-κB activation solely within the T cell lineage. Here we show that Treg cell-intrinsic NF-κB activation is important for the generation of cytokine-responsive Foxp3− thymic Treg precursors and their further differentiation into mature Treg cells. Treg cell development could neither be completely rescued by the addition of exogenous Interleukin 2 (IL-2) nor by the presence of wild-type derived cells in adoptive transfer experiments. However, peripheral NF-κB activation appears to be required for IL-2 production by conventional T cells, thereby participating in Treg cell homeostasis. Moreover, pharmacological NF-κB inhibition via the IκB kinase β (IKKβ) inhibitor AS602868 led to markedly diminished thymic and peripheral Treg cell frequencies.
Conclusion/Significance
Our results indicate that Treg cell-intrinsic NF-κB activation is essential for thymic Treg cell differentiation, and further suggest pharmacological NF-κB inhibition as a potential therapeutic approach for manipulating this process.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020003
PMCID: PMC3097234  PMID: 21625598

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