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1.  Molecular targets of natural health products in arthritis 
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA) consume 'natural health products' (NHPs) whose therapeutic efficacy, toxicity and mechanisms of action are poorly understood. In a previous issue of Arthritis Research and Therapy, Haqqi and colleagues characterized IL-1-activated mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 3 (MKK3) and p38-mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) isoforms in human OA chondrocytes. The cartilageprotective mechanisms of pomegranate extract involve diminishing MKK3-activated p38α, JNK, NF-κB and Runx2 pathways, which regulate inflammatory proteins and cartilage-destroying proteases. Epigallocatechin- 3-gallate, resveratrol, curcumin and other NHP active ingredients suppress multiple inflammatory and catabolic molecular mediators of arthritis. Non-toxicity, reduced severity and incidence of arthritis in animal models warrant testing NHP active ingredients for preventing human OA and RA.
doi:10.1186/ar3222
PMCID: PMC3157637  PMID: 21345249
2.  Enhanced Expression of Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloproteinases-4 Gene in Human Osteoarthritic Synovial Membranes and Its Differential Regulation by Cytokines in Chondrocytes 
Objective:
Tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs) are multi-functional proteins with matrix metalloproteinases-inhibiting activities. We studied expression of anti-inflammatory, TIMP-4 gene in human joint tissues and its regulation by arthritis-associated cytokines.
Results:
TIMP-4 RNA expression originating from synovial fibroblasts was significantly (2.4 fold; p<0.001) elevated in 8 osteoarthritic (OA) versus 7 non-arthritic synovial membranes. Non-arthritic and OA femoral head and knee chondrocytes displayed substantial but variably constitutive expression of the TIMP-4 mRNA. In articular chondrocytes, transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β1) and oncostatin M (OSM) upregulated TIMP-4 RNA and protein expression while interleukin-1 (IL-1β) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) did not, suggesting differential regulation by arthritis-associated cytokines. Interleukin 17 (IL-17) mildly induced TIMP-4 mRNA. TGF-β1 induction of TIMP-4 expression was partly inhibited by ERK pathway and Sp1 transcription factor inhibitors.
Conclusion:
Enhanced TIMP-4 gene expression in OA synovial membranes and cartilage may be due to induction by TGF-β1, OSM and IL-17, suggesting its pathophysiological role in tissue remodeling in human joints. TGF-β1 induction of TIMP-4 expression is mediated partly by ERK pathway and Sp1 transcription factor.
doi:10.2174/1874312901105010081
PMCID: PMC3245407  PMID: 22216069
Osteoarthritis; synovium; chondrocytes; TIMP-4; cytokines.
3.  Mithramycin downregulates proinflammatory cytokine-induced matrix metalloproteinase gene expression in articular chondrocytes 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2005;7(4):R777-R783.
Interleukin-1 (IL-1), IL-17 and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) are the main proinflammatory cytokines implicated in cartilage breakdown by matrix metalloproteinase (MMPs) in arthritic joints. We studied the impact of an anti-neoplastic antibiotic, mithramycin, on the induction of MMPs in chondrocytes. MMP-3 and MMP-13 gene expression induced by IL-1β, TNF-α and IL-17 was downregulated by mithramycin in human chondrosarcoma SW1353 cells and in primary human and bovine femoral head chondrocytes. Constitutive and IL-1-stimulated MMP-13 levels in bovine and human cartilage explants were also suppressed. Mithramycin did not significantly affect the phosphorylation of the mitogen-activated protein kinases, extracellular signal-regulated kinase, p38 and c-Jun N-terminal kinase. Despite effective inhibition of MMP expression by mithramycin and its potential to reduce cartilage degeneration, the agent might work through multiple unidentified mechanisms.
doi:10.1186/ar1735
PMCID: PMC1175029  PMID: 15987479

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