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1.  The Mesenchymal Stem Cell Marker CD248 (Endosialin) Is a Negative Regulator of Bone Formation in Mice 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(10):3334-3343.
CD248 (tumor endothelial marker 1/endosialin) is found on stromal cells and is highly expressed during malignancy and inflammation. Studies have shown a reduction in inflammatory arthritis in CD248-knockout (CD248−/−) mice. The aim of the present study was to investigate the functional effect of genetic deletion of CD248 on bone mass.
Western blotting, polymerase chain reaction, and immunofluorescence were used to investigate the expression of CD248 in humans and mice. Micro-computed tomography and the 3-point bending test were used to measure bone parameters and mechanical properties of the tibiae of 10-week-old wild-type (WT) or CD248−/− mice. Human and mouse primary osteoblasts were cultured in medium containing 10 mM β-glycerophosphate and 50 μg/ml ascorbic acid to induce mineralization, and then treated with platelet-derived growth factor BB (PDGF-BB). The mineral apposition rate in vivo was calculated by identifying newly formed bone via calcein labeling.
Expression of CD248 was seen in human and mouse osteoblasts, but not osteoclasts. CD248−/− mouse tibiae had higher bone mass and superior mechanical properties (increased load required to cause fracture) compared to WT mice. Primary osteoblasts from CD248−/− mice induced increased mineralization in vitro and produced increased bone over 7 days in vivo. There was no decrease in bone mineralization and no increase in proliferation of osteoblasts in response to stimulation with PDGF-BB, which could be attributed to a defect in PDGF signal transduction in the CD248−/− mice.
There is an unmet clinical need to address rheumatoid arthritis–associated bone loss. Genetic deletion of CD248 in mice results in high bone mass due to increased osteoblast-mediated bone formation, suggesting that targeting CD248 in rheumatoid arthritis may have the effect of increasing bone mass in addition to the previously reported effect of reducing inflammation.
PMCID: PMC4209224  PMID: 22674221
2.  A Differential Role for CD248 (Endosialin) in PDGF-Mediated Skeletal Muscle Angiogenesis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e107146.
CD248 (Endosialin) is a type 1 membrane protein involved in developmental and pathological angiogenesis through its expression on pericytes and regulation of PDGFRβ signalling. Here we explore the function of CD248 in skeletal muscle angiogenesis. Two distinct forms of capillary growth (splitting and sprouting) can be induced separately by increasing microcirculatory shear stress (chronic vasodilator treatment) or by inducing functional overload (extirpation of a synergistic muscle). We show that CD248 is present on pericytes in muscle and that CD248-/- mice have a specific defect in capillary sprouting. In contrast, splitting angiogenesis is independent of CD248 expression. Endothelial cells respond to pro-sprouting angiogenic stimulus by up-regulating gene expression for HIF1α, angiopoietin 2 and its receptor TEK, PDGF-B and its receptor PDGFRβ; this response did not occur following a pro-splitting angiogenic stimulus. In wildtype mice, defective sprouting angiogenesis could be mimicked by blocking PDGFRβ signalling using the tyrosine kinase inhibitor Imatinib mesylate. We conclude that CD248 is required for PDGFRβ-dependant capillary sprouting but not splitting angiogenesis, and identify a new role for CD248 expressed on pericytes in the early stages of physiological angiogenesis during muscle remodelling.
PMCID: PMC4171374  PMID: 25243742
3.  Curbing Inflammation 
PMCID: PMC3806508  PMID: 24195008
4.  Investigating Cultural Evolution Using Phylogenetic Analysis: The Origins and Descent of the Southeast Asian Tradition of Warp Ikat Weaving 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52064.
The warp ikat method of making decorated textiles is one of the most geographically widespread in southeast Asia, being used by Austronesian peoples in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, and Daic peoples on the Asian mainland. In this study a dataset consisting of the decorative characters of 36 of these warp ikat weaving traditions is investigated using Bayesian and Neighbornet techniques, and the results are used to construct a phylogenetic tree and taxonomy for warp ikat weaving in southeast Asia. The results and analysis show that these diverse traditions have a common ancestor amongst neolithic cultures the Asian mainland, and parallels exist between the patterns of textile weaving descent and linguistic phylogeny for the Austronesian group. Ancestral state analysis is used to reconstruct some of the features of the ancestral weaving tradition. The widely held theory that weaving motifs originated in the late Bronze Age Dong-Son culture is shown to be inconsistent with the data.
PMCID: PMC3525544  PMID: 23272211
5.  Thymic function is maintained during Salmonella-induced atrophy and recovery 
Thymic atrophy is a frequent consequence of infection with bacteria, viruses and parasites and is considered a common virulence trait between pathogens. Multiple reasons have been proposed to explain this atrophy, including premature egress of immature thymocytes, increased apoptosis or thymic shutdown to prevent tolerance to the pathogen from developing. The severe loss in thymic cell number can reflect an equally dramatic reduction in thymic output, potentially reducing peripheral T cell numbers. Here we examine the relationship between systemic Salmonella infection and thymic function. During infection, naive T cell numbers in peripheral lymphoid organs increase. Nevertheless, this occurs despite a pronounced thymic atrophy caused by viable bacteria, with a peak 50-fold reduction in thymocyte numbers. Thymic atrophy is not dependent upon homeostatic feedback from peripheral T cells or on regulation of endogenous glucocorticoids, as demonstrated by infection of genetically-altered mice. Once bacterial numbers fall, thymocyte numbers recover and this is associated with increases in the proportion and proliferation of early thymic progenitors. During atrophy, thymic T cell maturation is maintained and sjTREC analysis reveals there is only a modest fall in recent CD4+ thymic emigrants in secondary lymphoid tissues. Thus thymic atrophy does not necessarily result in a matching dysfunctional T cell output and thymic homeostasis can constantly adjust to systemic infection to ensure that naive T cell output is maintained.
PMCID: PMC3912538  PMID: 22993205
6.  Analysis of the effects of stromal cells on the migration of lymphocytes into and through inflamed tissue using 3-D culture models☆ 
Journal of Immunological Methods  2013;400-401(100):45-57.
Stromal cells may regulate the recruitment and behaviour of leukocytes during an inflammatory response, potentially through interaction with the endothelial cells (EC) and the leukocytes themselves. Here we describe new in vitro methodologies to characterise the effects of stromal cells on the migration of lymphocytes through endothelium and its underlying matrix. Three-dimensional tissue-like constructs were created in which EC were cultured above a stromal layer incorporating fibroblasts either as a monolayer on a porous filter or dispersed within a matrix of collagen type 1. A major advantage of these constructs is that they enable each step in leukocyte migration to be analysed in sequence (migration through EC and then stroma), as would occur in vivo. Migrated cells can also be retrieved from the constructs to identify which subsets traffic more effectively and how their functional responses evolve during migration. We found that culture of EC with dermal fibroblasts promoted lymphocyte transendothelial migration but not onward transit through matrix. A critical factor influencing the effect of fibroblasts on recruitment proved to be their proximity to the EC, with direct contact tending to disrupt migration. Comparison of the different approaches indicates that choice of an appropriate 3-D model enables the steps in lymphocyte entry into tissue to be studied in sequence, the regulatory mechanism to be dissected, and the effects of changes in stroma to be investigated.
•New models of tissue using endothelial cells, fibroblasts and collagen matrix•Imaging of T-cell migration through tissue-like constructs•Fibroblasts promote T-cell migration through endothelial cells.•Fibroblasts contract collagen gel, restricting T-cell entry.•In vitro tools to test agents with the potential to alter leukocyte recruitment
PMCID: PMC3878567  PMID: 24140419
Endothelial cells; Leukocytes; Adhesion; Migration; Inflammation; Fibroblasts
7.  CD31 is required on CD4+ T cells to promote T cell survival during Salmonella infection 
Haematopoietic cells constitutively express CD31/PECAM1 a signalling, adhesion receptor associated with controlling responses to inflammatory stimuli. Although expressed on CD4+ T cells, its function on these cells is unclear. To address this we have used a model of systemic Salmonella infection that induces high levels of T cell activation and depends upon CD4+ T cells for resolution. Infection of CD31-deficient (CD31KO) mice demonstrates that these mice fail to control infection effectively. During infection, CD31KO mice have diminished numbers of total CD4+ T cells and IFN-γ-secreting Th1 cells. This is despite a higher proportion of CD31KO CD4+ T cells exhibiting an activated phenotype, and an undiminished capacity to prime normally and polarize to Th1. Reduced numbers of T cells reflected the increased propensity of naive and activated CD31KO T cells to undergo apoptosis after infection compared to wild-type (WT) T cells. Using adoptive transfer experiments we show that loss of CD31 on CD4+ T cells alone is sufficient to account for the defective CD31KO T cell accumulation. These data are consistent with CD31 helping to control T cell activation as in its absence T cells have a greater propensity to become activated, resulting in increased susceptibility to become apoptotic. The impact of CD31 loss on T cell homeostasis becomes most pronounced during severe, inflammatory and immunological stresses such as those caused by systemic Salmonella infection. This identifies a novel role for CD31 in regulating CD4 T cell homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC3160468  PMID: 21734076
8.  The stromal cell antigen CD248 (endosialin) is expressed on naive CD8+ human T cells and regulates proliferation 
Immunology  2011;133(3):288-295.
CD248 (endosialin) is a transmembrane glycoprotein that is dynamically expressed on pericytes and fibroblasts during tissue development, tumour neovascularization and inflammation. Its role in tissue remodelling is associated with increased stromal cell proliferation and migration. We show that CD248 is also uniquely expressed by human, but not mouse (C57BL/6), CD8+ naive T cells. CD248 is found only on CD8+ CCR7+ CD11alow naive T cells and on CD8 single-positive T cells in the thymus. Transfection of the CD248 negative T-cell line MOLT-4 with CD248 cDNA surprisingly reduced cell proliferation. Knock-down of CD248 on naive CD8 T cells increased cell proliferation. These data demonstrate opposing functions for CD248 on haematopoietic (CD8+) versus stromal cells and suggests that CD248 helps to maintain naive CD8+ human T cells in a quiescent state.
PMCID: PMC3108880  PMID: 21466550
angiogenesis; CD248/endosialin; CD8; naive T cells; tumour therapy
9.  What can rheumatologists learn from translational cancer therapy? 
It is well established that an intimate connection exists between inflammation and neoplasia. Indeed, particular chronic infections and autoimmune processes giving rise to prolonged site-specific inflammation are known to increase the probability of the development of specific cancers. Molecular characterisation of these processes has revealed profound similarities in the specific molecules involved in persistence of inflammation and in both the primary induction of neoplastic processes and in specification of the preferred anatomic sites of metastatic spread. The therapeutic importance of these findings is underscored by the remarkable success in the treatment of autoimmune pathology using medications initially developed for use in oncology and this arena is one of considerable therapeutic promise for rheumatologists.
PMCID: PMC3672806  PMID: 23638860
10.  Targeting Stromal Cells in Chronic Inflammation 
Discovery medicine  2007;7(37):20-26.
Why chronic inflammatory reactions persist in specific sites, such as rheumatoid arthritis in the joints, remains a mystery. Current models of inflammation have concentrated upon the responses of lymphocytes such as B and T cells to specific antigens, and have attempted, often unsuccessfully, to address the causative agent. However recent studies have shown that stromal cells such as macrophages, endothelial cells, and fibroblasts play important roles in the switch that turns a spontaneously resolving acute inflammatory response within a tissue into chronic and persistent disease. Therapeutic manipulation of the stromal microenvironment has been particularly effective in treating cancer and is likely to provide novel therapies to achieve improved control of chronic inflammatory disease.
PMCID: PMC3160478  PMID: 17343801
11.  Altered Expression of MicroRNA-203 in Rheumatoid Arthritis Synovial Fibroblasts and Its Role in Fibroblast Activation 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2011;63(2):373-381.
MicroRNA (miRNA) are recognized as important regulators of a variety of fundamental biologic processes. Previously, we described increased expression of miR-155 and miR-146a in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and showed a repressive effect of miR-155 on matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) expression in RA synovial fibroblasts (RASFs). The present study was undertaken to examine alterations in expression of miR-203 in RASFs and analyze its role in fibroblast activation.
Differentially expressed miRNA in RASFs versus osteoarthritis synovial fibroblasts (OASFs) were identified by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR)–based screening of 260 individual miRNA. Transfection of miR-203 precursor was used to analyze the function of miR-203 in RASFs. Levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6) and MMPs were measured by real-time PCR and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. RASFs were stimulated with IL-1β, tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα), lipopolysaccharide (LPS), and 5-azacytidine (5-azaC). Activity of IκB kinase 2 was inhibited with SC-514.
Expression of miR-203 was higher in RASFs than in OASFs or fibroblasts from healthy donors. Levels of miR-203 did not change upon stimulation with IL-1β, TNFα, or LPS; however, DNA demethylation with 5-azaC increased the expression of miR-203. Enforced expression of miR-203 led to significantly increased levels of MMP-1 and IL-6. Induction of IL-6 by miR-203 overexpression was inhibited by blocking of the NF-κB pathway. Basal expression levels of IL-6 correlated with basal expression levels of miR-203.
The current results demonstrate methylation-dependent regulation of miR-203 expression in RASFs. Importantly, they also show that elevated levels of miR-203 lead to increased secretion of MMP-1 and IL-6 via the NF-κB pathway and thereby contribute to the activated phenotype of synovial fibroblasts in RA.
PMCID: PMC3116142  PMID: 21279994
12.  A Chemokine-Dependent Stromal Induction Mechanism for Aberrant Lymphocyte Accumulation and Compromised Lymphatic Return in Rheumatoid Arthritis 
According to the current model for tissue-specific homing, specificity is conferred by the selective recruitment of lymphocyte populations from peripheral blood, based on their expression of chemokine and adhesion receptors (endothelial selection). In this study, we provide evidence for an alternative stromal induction mechanism that operates in chronic inflammation. We show that the human rheumatoid synovial microenvironment directly induces functional inflammatory (CCR5 and CXCR3) and constitutive (CCR7 and CXCR4) chemokine receptors on infiltrating CD4+ T cells. Expression of the corresponding inflammatory chemokine ligands (CCL5 and CXCL11) was confined to stromal areas in the synovium. However, expression of the constitutive ligands (CCL19 and CXCL12) was inappropriately high on both vascular and lymphatic endothelium, suggesting that the vascular to lymphatic chemokine gradient involved in lymphatic recirculation becomes subverted in the rheumatoid synovium. These results challenge the view that leukocyte trafficking is regulated solely by selective recruitment of pre-existing chemokine receptor-positive cells from peripheral blood, by providing an alternative explanation based on aberrant lymphocyte retention and compromised lymphatic return.
PMCID: PMC3121555  PMID: 15661933
13.  Targeting the stromal microenvironment in chronic inflammation 
Current opinion in pharmacology  2006;6(4):393-400.
A characteristic feature of chronic inflammatory reactions is their persistence and predilection for certain sites. The molecular basis for such tissue tropism (as, for example, seen with metastatic spread) has until recently remained obscure, but recent studies have strongly implicated tissue-resident, stromal cells, such as macrophages, endothelial cells and fibroblasts. These cell types make attractive therapeutic targets as they help define the three-dimensional structure of tissues and are key orchestrators of the inflammatory infiltrate. Most current anti-inflammatory therapies target immune cells in an attempt to inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory mediators; however, an equally important target is the active induction of anti-inflammatory mediators involved in the resolution of inflammation. Recent work suggests that stromal cells are an important source of these mediators. Targeting of multiple signals may be required to inhibit tissue damage associated with inflammatory disease. Cells of the monocyte lineage are present as tissue-resident cells and interact closely with other stromal populations. These cells form an ideal target for modulation of the inflammatory environment as, in some cases, they appear to induce tissue repair. Therapeutic manipulation of the stromal microenvironment has been particularly effective in treating cancer and is likely to provide a novel method to achieve improved control of chronic inflammatory disease.
PMCID: PMC3119430  PMID: 16682252
14.  Differential Survival of Leukocyte Subsets Mediated by Synovial, Bone Marrow, and Skin Fibroblasts 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2006;54(7):2096-2108.
Synovial fibroblasts share a number of phenotype markers with fibroblasts derived from bone marrow. In this study we investigated the role of matched fibroblasts obtained from 3 different sources (bone marrow, synovium, and skin) to test the hypothesis that synovial fibroblasts share similarities with bone marrow–derived fibroblasts in terms of their ability to support survival of T cells and neutrophils.
Matched synovial, bone marrow, and skin fibroblasts were established from 8 different patients with rheumatoid arthritis who were undergoing knee or hip surgery. Resting or activated fibroblasts were cocultured with either CD4 T cells or neutrophils, and the degree of leukocyte survival, apoptosis, and proliferation were measured.
Fibroblasts derived from all 3 sites supported increased survival of CD4 T cells, mediated principally by interferon-β. However, synovial and bone marrow fibroblasts shared an enhanced site-specific ability to maintain CD4 T cell survival in the absence of proliferation, an effect that was independent of fibroblast activation or proliferation but required direct T cell–fibroblast cell contact. In contrast, fibroblast-mediated neutrophil survival was less efficient, being independent of the site of origin of the fibroblast but dependent on prior fibroblast activation, and mediated solely by soluble factors, principally granulocyte–macrophage colony-stimulating factor.
These results suggest an important functional role for fibroblasts in the differential accumulation of leukocyte subsets in a variety of tissue microenvironments. The findings also provide a potential explanation for site-specific differences in the pattern of T cell and neutrophil accumulation observed in chronic inflammatory diseases.
PMCID: PMC3119431  PMID: 16802344
15.  The pericyte and stromal cell marker CD248 (endosialin) is required for efficient lymph node expansion 
European journal of immunology  2010;40(7):1884-1889.
CD248 is a cell surface receptor that specifically identifies fibroblasts and pericytes during development and in association with cancer and inflammation. However, its function is poorly defined and its role in lymphoid organs not studied. Here, we used (4-hydroxy-3-nitrophenyl)acetyl chicken γ-globulin immunisation and mice lacking CD248 to study whether CD248 modulates popliteal LN (pLN) expansion and subsequent immune responses. We have found that CD248 is required for complete pLN expansion but not for co-ordination of B and T cell compartmentalisation or antibody production following (4-hydroxy-3-nitrophenyl)acetyl chicken γ-globulin immunisation. In vitro, we show that CD248 expression in human MG63 stromal cells and mouse embryonic fibroblasts leads to a pro-proliferative and pro-migratory phenotype. This correlates with a proliferating CD248+ population observed in vivo during pLN expansion. Taken together, these data highlight a role for CD248 in secondary lymphoid organ remodelling during adaptive immune responses.
PMCID: PMC3095484  PMID: 20432232
CD248; Endosialin; Fibroblast; Lymphoid tissue; Stromal cells
16.  Differential expression of CD148 on leukocyte subsets in inflammatory arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2013;15(5):R108.
Monocytic cells play a central role in the aetiology of rheumatoid arthritis, and manipulation of the activation of these cells is an approach currently under investigation to discover new therapies for this and associated diseases. CD148 is a transmembrane tyrosine phosphatase that is highly expressed in monocytes and macrophages and, since this family of molecules plays an important role in the regulation of cell activity, CD148 is a potential target for the manipulation of macrophage activation. For any molecule to be considered a therapeutic target, it is important for it to be increased in activity or expression during disease.
We have investigated the expression of CD148 in two murine models of arthritis and in joints from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients using real-time PCR, immunohistochemistry, and studied the effects of proinflammatory stimuli on CD148 activity using biochemical assays.
We report that CD148 mRNA is upregulated in diseased joints of mice with collagen-induced arthritis. Furthermore, we report that in mice CD148 protein is highly expressed in infiltrating monocytes of diseased joints, with a small fraction of T cells also expressing CD148. In human arthritic joints both T cells and monocytes expressed high levels of CD148, however, we show differential expression of CD148 in T cells and monocytes from normal human peripheral blood compared to peripheral blood from RA and both normal and RA synovial fluid. Finally, we show that synovial fluid from rheumatoid arthritis patients suppresses CD148 phosphatase activity.
CD148 is upregulated in macrophages and T cells in human RA samples, and its activity is enhanced by treatment with tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNFα), and reduced by synovial fluid or oxidising conditions. A greater understanding of the role of CD148 in chronic inflammation may lead to alternative therapeutic approaches to these diseases.
PMCID: PMC3978474  PMID: 24016860
17.  Identification of the Tyrosine-Protein Phosphatase Non-Receptor Type 2 as a Rheumatoid Arthritis Susceptibility Locus in Europeans 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66456.
Genome-wide association studies have facilitated the identification of over 30 susceptibility loci for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, evidence for a number of potential susceptibility genes have not so far reached genome-wide significance in studies of Caucasian RA.
A cohort of 4286 RA patients from across Europe and 5642 population matched controls were genotyped for 25 SNPs, then combined in a meta-analysis with previously published data.
Significant evidence of association was detected for nine SNPs within the European samples. When meta-analysed with previously published data, 21 SNPs were associated with RA susceptibility. Although SNPs in the PTPN2 gene were previously reported to be associated with RA in both Japanese and European populations, we show genome-wide evidence for a different SNP within this gene associated with RA susceptibility in an independent European population (rs7234029, P = 4.4×10−9).
This study provides further genome-wide evidence for the association of the PTPN2 locus (encoding the T cell protein tyrosine phosphastase) with Caucasian RA susceptibility. This finding adds to the growing evidence for PTPN2 being a pan-autoimmune susceptibility gene.
PMCID: PMC3688762  PMID: 23840476
18.  Lymphoid Aggregates That Resemble Tertiary Lymphoid Organs Define a Specific Pathological Subset in Metal-on-Metal Hip Replacements 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63470.
Aseptic lymphocyte-dominated vasculitis-associated lesion (ALVAL) has been used to describe the histological lesion associated with metal-on-metal (M-M) bearings. We tested the hypothesis that the lymphoid aggregates, associated with ALVAL lesions resemble tertiary lymphoid organs (TLOs). Histopathological changes were examined in the periprosthetic tissue of 62 M-M hip replacements requiring revision surgery, with particular emphasis on the characteristics and pattern of the lymphocytic infiltrate. Immunofluorescence and immunohistochemistry were used to study the classical features of TLOs in cases where large organized lymphoid follicles were present. Synchrotron X-ray fluorescence (XRF) measurements were undertaken to detect localisation of implant derived ions/particles within the samples. Based on type of lymphocytic infiltrates, three different categories were recognised; diffuse aggregates (51%), T cell aggregates (20%), and organised lymphoid aggregates (29%). Further investigation of tissues with organised lymphoid aggregates showed that these tissues recapitulate many of the features of TLOs with T cells and B cells organised into discrete areas, the presence of follicular dendritic cells, acquisition of high endothelial venule like phenotype by blood vessels, expression of lymphoid chemokines and the presence of plasma cells. Co-localisation of implant-derived metals with lymphoid aggregates was observed. These findings suggest that in addition to the well described general foreign body reaction mediated by macrophages and a T cell mediated type IV hypersensitivity response, an under-recognized immunological reaction to metal wear debris involving B cells and the formation of tertiary lymphoid organs occurs in a distinct subset of patients with M-M implants.
PMCID: PMC3665779  PMID: 23723985
19.  Inducible tertiary lymphoid structures, autoimmunity and exocrine dysfunction in a novel model of salivary gland inflammation in C57BL/6 mice§ 
Salivary glands in patients with Sjögren’s syndrome (SS) develop ectopic lymphoid structures (ELS) characterized by B/T cell compartmentalization, the formation of high endothelial venules (HEV), follicular dendritic cell networks (FDCs), functional B cell activation with expression of activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) as well as local differentiation of autoreactive plasma cells. The mechanisms triggering ELS formation, autoimmunity and exocrine dysfunction in SS are largely unknown. Here we present a novel model of inducible ectopic lymphoid tissue formation, breach of humoral self-tolerance and salivary hypofunction following delivery of a replication-deficient adenovirus-5 (AdV5) in submandibular glands of C57BL/6 mice through retrograde excretory duct cannulation. In this model, inflammation rapidly and consistently evolves from diffuse infiltration towards the development of SS-like periductal lymphoid aggregates within 2 weeks from AdV delivery. These infiltrates progressively acquire ELS features and support functional GL7+/AID+ germinal centers. Formation of ELS is preceded by ectopic expression of lymphoid chemokines CXCL13, CCL19 and lymphotoxin-β and is associated with development of anti-nuclear antibodies in up to 75% of mice. Finally, reduction in salivary flow was observed over 3 weeks post AdV infection consistent with exocrine gland dysfunction as a consequence of the inflammatory response. This novel model has the potential to unravel the cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating ELS formation and their role in exocrine dysfunction and autoimmunity in SS.
PMCID: PMC3448973  PMID: 22942425
20.  Synovial DKK1 expression is regulated by local glucocorticoid metabolism in inflammatory arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(5):R226.
Inflammatory arthritis is associated with increased bone resorption and suppressed bone formation. The Wnt antagonist dickkopf-1 (DKK1) is secreted by synovial fibroblasts in response to inflammation and this protein has been proposed to be a master regulator of bone remodelling in inflammatory arthritis. Local glucocorticoid production is also significantly increased during joint inflammation. Therefore, we investigated how locally derived glucocorticoids and inflammatory cytokines regulate DKK1 synthesis in synovial fibroblasts during inflammatory arthritis.
We examined expression and regulation of DKK1 in primary cultures of human synovial fibroblasts isolated from patients with inflammatory arthritis. The effect of TNFα, IL-1β and glucocorticoids on DKK1 mRNA and protein expression was examined by real-time PCR and ELISA. The ability of inflammatory cytokine-induced expression of the glucocorticoid-activating enzyme 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11β-HSD1) to sensitise fibroblasts to endogenous glucocorticoids was explored. Global expression of Wnt signalling and target genes in response to TNFα and glucocorticoids was assessed using a custom array.
DKK1 expression in human synovial fibroblasts was directly regulated by glucocorticoids but not proinflammatory cytokines. Glucocorticoids, but not TNFα, regulated expression of multiple Wnt agonists and antagonists in favour of inhibition of Wnt signalling. However, TNFα and IL-1β indirectly stimulated DKK1 production through increased expression of 11β-HSD1.
These results demonstrate that in rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts, DKK1 expression is directly regulated by glucocorticoids rather than TNFα. Consequently, the links between synovial inflammation, altered Wnt signalling and bone remodelling are not direct but are dependent on local activation of endogenous glucocorticoids.
PMCID: PMC3580537  PMID: 23079210
21.  Association of T-Zone Reticular Networks and Conduits with Ectopic Lymphoid Tissues in Mice and Humans 
The American Journal of Pathology  2011;178(4):1662-1675.
Ectopic or tertiary lymphoid tissues (TLTs) are often induced at sites of chronic inflammation. They typically contain various hematopoietic cell types, high endothelial venules, and follicular dendritic cells; and are organized in lymph node–like structures. Although fibroblastic stromal cells may play a role in TLT induction and persistence, they have remained poorly defined. Herein, we report that TLTs arising during inflammation in mice and humans in a variety of tissues (eg, pancreas, kidney, liver, and salivary gland) contain stromal cell networks consisting of podoplanin+ T-zone fibroblastic reticular cells (TRCs), distinct from follicular dendritic cells. Similar to lymph nodes, TRCs were present throughout T-cell–rich areas and had dendritic cells associated with them. They expressed lymphotoxin (LT) β receptor (LTβR), produced CCL21, and formed a functional conduit system. In rat insulin promoter–CXCL13–transgenic pancreas, the maintenance of TRC networks and conduits was partially dependent on LTβR and on lymphoid tissue inducer cells expressing LTβR ligands. In conclusion, TRCs and conduits are hallmarks of secondary lymphoid organs and of well-developed TLTs, in both mice and humans, and are likely to act as important scaffold and organizer cells of the T-cell–rich zone.
PMCID: PMC3070229  PMID: 21435450
22.  Why does chronic inflammation persist: An unexpected role for fibroblasts 
Immunology letters  2011;138(1):12-14.
One of the most important but as yet unanswered questions in inflammation research is not why inflammation occurs (we all get episodes of self limiting inflammation during the course of our lives) but why it does not resolve. Current models of inflammation stress the role of antigen-specific lymphocyte responses and attempt to address the causative agent. However, recent studies have begun to challenge the primacy of the leukocyte and have instead focused on an extended immune system in which stromal cells, such as fibroblasts play a role in the persistence of the inflammatory lesion.
In this review I will illustrate how fibroblasts help regulate the switch from acute resolving to chronic persistent inflammation and provide positional memory during inflammatory responses. In chronic inflammation the normal physiological process of the removal of unwanted inflammatory effector cells becomes disordered, leading to the accumulation of leucocytes within lymphoid aggregates that resemble those seen in lymphoid tissue. I will describe how fibroblasts provide survival and retention signals for leukocytes leading to their inappropriate and persistent accumulation within inflamed tissue.
PMCID: PMC3110265  PMID: 21333681
23.  Fibroblastic Reticular Cells From Lymph Nodes Attenuate T Cell Expansion by Producing Nitric Oxide 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27618.
Adaptive immune responses are initiated when T cells encounter antigen on dendritic cells (DC) in T zones of secondary lymphoid organs. T zones contain a 3-dimensional scaffold of fibroblastic reticular cells (FRC) but currently it is unclear how FRC influence T cell activation. Here we report that FRC lines and ex vivo FRC inhibit T cell proliferation but not differentiation. FRC share this feature with fibroblasts from non-lymphoid tissues as well as mesenchymal stromal cells. We identified FRC as strong source of nitric oxide (NO) thereby directly dampening T cell expansion as well as reducing the T cell priming capacity of DC. The expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) was up-regulated in a subset of FRC by both DC-signals as well as interferon-γ produced by primed CD8+ T cells. Importantly, iNOS expression was induced during viral infection in vivo in both LN FRC and DC. As a consequence, the primary T cell response was found to be exaggerated in Inos−/− mice. Our findings highlight that in addition to their established positive roles in T cell responses FRC and DC cooperate in a negative feedback loop to attenuate T cell expansion during acute inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3215737  PMID: 22110693
24.  Stromal cells differentially regulate neutrophil and lymphocyte recruitment through the endothelium 
Immunology  2010;131(3):357-370.
Stromal fibroblasts modify the initial recruitment of leucocytes by endothelial cells (EC), but their effects on subsequent transendothelial migration remain unclear. Here, EC and dermal or synovial fibroblasts were cultured on opposite surfaces of 3-μm pore filters and incorporated in static or flow-based migration assays. Fibroblasts had little effect on tumour necrosis factor-α-induced transendothelial migration of neutrophils, but tended to increase the efficiency of migration away from the endothelium. Surprisingly, similar close contact between EC and fibroblasts strongly reduced lymphocyte migration in static assays, and nearly abolished stable lymphocyte adhesion from flow. Fibroblasts did not alter endothelial surface expression of adhesion molecules or messenger RNA for chemokines. Inhibition of attachment did not occur when EC-fibroblast contact was restricted by using 0·4-μm pore filters, but under these conditions pre-treatment with heparinase partially inhibited adhesion. In the 3-μm pore co-cultures, inhibition of metalloproteinase activity partially recovered lymphocyte adhesion, but addition of CXCL12 (SDF-1α) to the endothelial surface did not. Hence, the ability of EC to present activating chemokines for lymphocytes may have been enzymatically inhibited by direct contact with fibroblasts. To avoid contact, we cultured EC and fibroblasts on separate 3-μm pore filters one above the other. Here, fibroblasts promoted the transendothelial migration of lymphocytes. Fibroblasts generate CXCL12, but blockade of CXCL12 receptor had no effect on lymphocyte migration. While stromal cells can provide signal(s) promoting leucocyte migration away from the sub-endothelial space, direct cell contact (which might occur in damaged tissue) may cause disruption of chemokine signalling, specifically inhibiting lymphocyte rather than neutrophil recruitment.
PMCID: PMC2992690  PMID: 20518822
endothelial cells; fibroblasts; lymphocytes; migration; neutrophils
25.  Predictive Value of Antibodies to Cyclic Citrullinated Peptide in Patients with Very Early Inflammatory Arthritis 
The Journal of rheumatology  2005;32(2):231-238.
To study the prognostic value of antibodies to cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) and rheumatoid factor (RF), alone and in combination, in patients with very early synovitis.
A cross-sectional study was performed in patients with established inflammatory and noninflammatory disease to validate the assay in our unit and confirm previously reported sensitivities and specificities of anti-CCP antibodies. Subsequently, patients with synovitis of ≤ 3 months’ duration were followed for 72 weeks and the ability of anti-CCP antibodies and RF to predict the development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and persistent inflammatory arthritis was assessed.
One hundred twenty-four patients were assessed in the initial cross-sectional study. Anti-CCP antibodies and RF were detected by ELISA in only 4% of patients with non-RA inflammatory disease and in no patient with noninflammatory disease. Ninety-six patients with very early synovitis were assessed longitudinally. In these patients with early arthritis, the combination of anti-CCP antibodies and RF had a specificity, positive predictive value (PPV), sensitivity, and negative predictive value (NPV) for a diagnosis of RA of 100%, 100%, 58%, and 88%, respectively. The specificity, PPV, sensitivity, and NPV of this antibody combination for the development of persistent disease-fulfilling classification criteria for RA were 97%, 86%, 63%, and 91%, respectively.
In patients with synovitis of ≤ 3 months’ duration, a combination of anti-CCP antibodies and RF has a high specificity and PPV for the development of persistent RA. This autoantibody combination can be used to identify patients with disease destined to develop RA who may be appropriate for very early intervention.
PMCID: PMC3160476  PMID: 15693082

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