CD55, a glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored, complement-regulating protein (decay-accelerating factor), is expressed by fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) with high local abundance in the intimal lining layer. We here explored the basis and consequences of this uncommon presence.
Synovial tissue, primary FLS cultures, and three-dimensional FLS micromasses were analyzed. CD55 expression was assessed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR), in situ hybridization, flow cytometry, and immunohistochemistry. Reticular fibers were visualized by Gomori staining and colocalization of CD55 with extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins by confocal microscopy. Membrane-bound CD55 was released from synovial tissue with phospholipase C. Functional consequences of CD55 expression were studied in the K/BxN serum transfer model of arthritis using mice that in addition to CD55 also lack FcγRIIB (CD32), increasing susceptibility for immune complex-mediated pathology.
Abundant CD55 expression seen in FLS of the intimal lining layer was associated with linearly oriented reticular fibers and was resistant to phospholipase C treatment. Expression of CD55 colocalized with collagen type I and III as well as with complement C3. A comparable distribution of CD55 was established in three-dimensional micromasses after ≥3 weeks of culture together with the ECM. CD55 deficiency did not enhance K/BxN serum-induced arthritis, but further exaggerated disease activity in Fcgr2b−/− mice.
CD55 is produced by FLS and deposited on the local collagen fiber meshwork, where it protects the synovial tissue against immune complex-mediated arthritis.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13075-015-0518-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
The nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) family of transcription factors is essential for the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines, but can also induce regulatory pathways. NF-κB can be activated via two distinct pathways: the classical or canonical pathway, and the alternative or non-canonical pathway. It is well established that the canonical NF-κB pathway is essential both in acute inflammatory responses and in chronic inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Although less extensively studied, the non-canonical NF-κB pathway is not only central in lymphoid organ development and adaptive immune responses, but is also thought to play an important role in the pathogenesis of RA. Importantly, this pathway appears to have cell type-specific functions and, since many different cell types are involved in the pathogenesis of RA, it is difficult to predict the net overall contribution of the non-canonical NF-κB pathway to synovial inflammation. In this review, we describe the current understanding of non-canonical NF-κB signaling in various important cell types in the context of RA and consider the relevance to the pathogenesis of the disease. In addition, we discuss current drugs targeting this pathway, as well as future therapeutic prospects.
The cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway can downregulate inflammation via the release of acetylcholine (ACh) by the vagus nerve. This neurotransmitter binds to the α7 subunit of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (α7nAChR), expressed on macrophages and other immune cells. We tested the pharmacological and functional profile of two novel compounds, PMP-311 and PMP-072 and investigated their role in modulating collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) in mice.
Both compounds were characterized with binding, electrophysiological, and pharmacokinetic studies. For in vivo efficacy studies in the CIA model the compounds were administered daily by oral gavage from day 20 till sacrifice at day 34. Disease progression was monitored by visual clinical scoring and measurement of paw swelling. Inflammation and joint destruction were examined by histology and radiology.
Treatment with PMP-311 was effective in preventing disease onset, reducing clinical signs of arthritis, and reducing synovial inflammation and bone destruction. PMP-072 also showed a trend in arthritis reduction at all concentrations tested. The data showed that while both compounds bind to α7nAChR with high affinity, PMP-311 acts like a classical agonist of ion channel activity, and PMP-072 can actually act as an ion channel antagonist. Moreover, PMP-072 was clearly distinct from typical competitive antagonists, since it was able to act as a silent agonist. It synergizes with the allosteric modulator PNU-120596, and subsequently activates desensitized α7nAChR. However, PMP-072 was less efficacious than PMP-311 at both channel activation and desensitization, suggesting that both conducting and non-conducting states maybe of importance in driving an anti-inflammatory response. Finally, we found that the anti-arthritic effect can be observed despite limited penetration of the central nervous system.
These data provide direct evidence that the α7nAChR in immune cells does not require typical ion channel activation to exert its antiinflammatory effects.
To identify novel genetic risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), we conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) meta-analysis of 5,539 autoantibody positive RA cases and 20,169 controls of European descent, followed by replication in an independent set of 6,768 RA cases and 8,806 controls. Of 34 SNPs selected for replication, 7 novel RA risk alleles were identified at genome-wide significance (P<5×10−8) in analysis of all 41,282 samples. The associated SNPs are near genes of known immune function, including IL6ST, SPRED2, RBPJ, CCR6, IRF5, and PXK. We also refined the risk alleles at two established RA risk loci (IL2RA and CCL21) and confirmed the association at AFF3. These new associations bring the total number of confirmed RA risk loci to 31 among individuals of European ancestry. An additional 11 SNPs replicated at P<0.05, many of which are validated autoimmune risk alleles, suggesting that most represent bona fide RA risk alleles.
Treatment strategies blocking tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF) have proven very successful in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, a significant subset of patients does not respond for unknown reasons. Currently there are no means of identifying these patients prior to treatment. This study was aimed at identifying genetic factors predicting anti-TNF treatment outcome in patient with RA using a genome-wide association approach.
We conducted a multi-stage, genome-wide association study with a primary analysis of 2,557,253 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 882 RA patients receiving anti-TNF therapy included through the Dutch Rheumatoid Arthritis Monitoring (DREAM) registry and the database of Apotheekzorg. Linear regression analysis of changes in the Disease Activity Score in 28 joints after 14 weeks of treatment was performed using an additive model. Markers with a p<10−3 were selected for replication in 1,821 RA patients from three independent cohorts. Pathway analysis including all SNPs with a p-value < 10−3 was performed using Ingenuity.
Seven hundred seventy two markers demonstrated evidence of association with treatment outcome in the initial stage. Eight genetic loci showed improved p-value in the overall meta-analysis compared to the first stage, three of which (rs1568885, rs1813443 and rs4411591) showed directional consistency over all four studied cohorts. We were unable to replicate markers previously reported to be associated with anti-TNF outcome. Network analysis indicated strong involvement of biological processes underlying inflammatory response and cell morphology.
Using a multi-stage strategy, we have identified 8 genetic loci associated with response to anti-TNF treatment. Further studies are required to validate these findings in additional patient collections.
anti-TNF; gene polymorphism; pharmacogenetics; rheumatoid arthritis; genome-wide association study
The change in number of CD68-positive sublining macrophages in serial synovial biopsies has been successfully used to discriminate on the group level between effective and ineffective treatment during early drug development in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients. Measurement of a soluble biomarker would clearly have practical advantages. Therefore, we investigated the sensitivity to change of myeloid related protein (MRP)8/14 in serum.
139 RA patients who received known effective biologics (infliximab, adalimumab and rituximab) and 28 RA patients who received placebo/ineffective therapies were included. MRP8/14 levels were analyzed in baseline and follow-up serum samples and the standardized response mean (SRM) was calculated to determine the sensitivity to change of MRP8/14 in comparison to C-reactive protein (CRP) levels and the disease activity score evaluated in 28 joints (DAS28).
In patients treated with effective treatment, the SRM for MRP8/14 was moderate (0.56), but in patients treated with placebo/ineffective treatment the SRM was 0.06, suggesting that this biomarker is perhaps not susceptible to placebo effects in proof-of-concept studies of relatively short duration. In contrast, the SRM for DAS28 was high for effective treatment (1.07), but also moderate for ineffective treatment (0.58), representing the placebo effect. The SRM for CRP was low in the effective (0.33) and ineffective (0.23) treatment groups.
These data support the notion that quantification of changes in MRP8/14 serum levels could be used to predict potential efficacy of novel antirheumatic drugs in an early stage of drug development. A positive result would support the rationale for larger, conventional clinical trials to determine whether the effects are clinically relevant.
Integrating genetic data from families with highly penetrant forms of disease together with genetic data from outbred populations represents a promising strategy to uncover the complete frequency spectrum of risk alleles for complex traits such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Here, we demonstrate that rare, low-frequency and common alleles at one gene locus, phospholipase B1 (PLB1), might contribute to risk of RA in a 4-generation consanguineous pedigree (Middle Eastern ancestry) and also in unrelated individuals from the general population (European ancestry). Through identity-by-descent (IBD) mapping and whole-exome sequencing, we identified a non-synonymous c.2263G>C (p.G755R) mutation at the PLB1 gene on 2q23, which significantly co-segregated with RA in family members with a dominant mode of inheritance (P = 0.009). We further evaluated PLB1 variants and risk of RA using a GWAS meta-analysis of 8,875 RA cases and 29,367 controls of European ancestry. We identified significant contributions of two independent non-coding variants near PLB1 with risk of RA (rs116018341 [MAF = 0.042] and rs116541814 [MAF = 0.021], combined P = 3.2×10−6). Finally, we performed deep exon sequencing of PLB1 in 1,088 RA cases and 1,088 controls (European ancestry), and identified suggestive dispersion of rare protein-coding variant frequencies between cases and controls (P = 0.049 for C-alpha test and P = 0.055 for SKAT). Together, these data suggest that PLB1 is a candidate risk gene for RA. Future studies to characterize the full spectrum of genetic risk in the PLB1 genetic locus are warranted.
A major challenge in human genetics is to devise a systematic strategy to integrate disease-associated variants with diverse genomic and biological datasets to provide insight into disease pathogenesis and guide drug discovery for complex traits such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA)1. Here, we performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) meta-analysis in a total of >100,000 subjects of European and Asian ancestries (29,880 RA cases and 73,758 controls), by evaluating ~10 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). We discovered 42 novel RA risk loci at a genome-wide level of significance, bringing the total to 1012–4. We devised an in-silico pipeline using established bioinformatics methods based on functional annotation5, cis-acting expression quantitative trait loci (cis-eQTL)6, and pathway analyses7–9 – as well as novel methods based on genetic overlap with human primary immunodeficiency (PID), hematological cancer somatic mutations and knock-out mouse phenotypes – to identify 98 biological candidate genes at these 101 risk loci. We demonstrate that these genes are the targets of approved therapies for RA, and further suggest that drugs approved for other indications may be repurposed for the treatment of RA. Together, this comprehensive genetic study sheds light on fundamental genes, pathways and cell types that contribute to RA pathogenesis, and provides empirical evidence that the genetics of RA can provide important information for drug discovery.
Angiopoietin (Ang) -1 and -2 and their receptor Tie2 play critical roles in regulating angiogenic processes during development, homeostasis, tumorigenesis, inflammation and tissue repair. Tie2 signaling is best characterized in endothelial cells, but a subset of human and murine circulating monocytes/macrophages essential to solid tumor formation express Tie2 and display immunosuppressive properties consistent with M2 macrophage polarization. However, we have recently shown that Tie2 is strongly activated in pro-inflammatory macrophages present in rheumatoid arthritis patient synovial tissue. Here we examined the relationship between Tie2 expression and function during human macrophage polarization. Tie2 expression was observed under all polarization conditions, but was highest in IFN-γ and IL-10 –differentiated macrophages. While TNF enhanced expression of a common restricted set of genes involved in angiogenesis and inflammation in GM-CSF, IFN-γ and IL-10 –differentiated macrophages, expression of multiple chemokines and cytokines, including CXCL3, CXCL5, CXCL8, IL6, and IL12B was further augmented in the presence of Ang-1 and Ang-2, via Tie2 activation of JAK/STAT signaling. Conditioned medium from macrophages stimulated with Ang-1 or Ang-2 in combination with TNF, sustained monocyte recruitment. Our findings suggest a general role for Tie2 in cooperatively promoting the inflammatory activation of macrophages, independently of polarization conditions.
The aim of this study was to investigate whether 14-3-3η, a specific isoform of a family of proteins regulating processes such as cellular signalling, activates cell-signalling pathways and induces factors known to contribute to the pathophysiology of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We also investigated whether 14-3-3η is associated with more severe disease in both early and established RA.
We investigated the effect of 14-3-3η on the activation of RA-relevant signalling cascades and induction of proinflammatory mediators that contribute to the joint damage process. 14-3-3η titres from 33 patients with early RA (mean RA duration = 1.8 months) and from 40 patients with established RA were measured in serum drawn at the 3-year time point of the Behandel Strategieën study. The relationship between 14-3-3η titres and standard clinical variables was investigated by correlation analysis. The association with radiographic damage and radiographic progression over at least a 2-year period was investigated using univariate and multivariate regression analyses.
14-3-3η activated selected members of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) family, mainly extracellular regulated kinase 1/2 and c-Jun kinase, but not p38MAPK. Activation by 14-3-3η, using levels spanning the concentration range found in RA patient serum, resulted in the induction of inflammatory transcripts such as interleukin 1 (IL-1) and IL-6 and factors linked to the joint damage process, such as receptor activator of nuclear factor κB ligand and matrix metalloproteinase 1. Serum 14-3-3η correlated significantly with rheumatoid factor (RF) (r = 0.43) and anticitrullinated protein antibodies (ACPAs) (r = 0.31) in the early RA cohort, but not with C-reactive protein (CRP) or the Disease Activity Score in 28 joints in either cohort. Serum 14-3-3η concentrations were significantly higher in patients with radiographically assessed joint damage and in those who had radiographic progression. By multivariate analysis, we show that 14-3-3η complemented markers such as CRP, RF and ACPA in informing RA radiographic status and/or progression.
Extracellular 14-3-3η activates key signalling cascades and induces factors associated with the pathogenesis of RA at concentrations found in patients with RA, and its expression is higher in patients with radiographic damage and RA progression.
Despite considerable advances in the management of rheumatoid arthritis, results are still not satisfactory for all patients. The treatment goal in rheumatoid arthritis is remission, and there currently are numerous conventional and biological medications available to reach this aim. There are also different treatment strategies but with only limited comparative evidence about their efficacies. More patients now achieve remission while on treatment, but it remains elusive in the majority of patients. Treatment-free remission, the ultimate goal of therapy, is only achieved in very few patients; even when this happens, it is most likely due to the natural course of the disease rather than to any specific therapies. Modern treatment is based on the initiation of aggressive therapy as soon as the diagnosis is established, and on modifying or intensifying therapy guided by frequent assessment of disease activity. In this commentary we will discuss the current treatment paradigm as well as the possibility of an induction-maintenance regimen with biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs in early rheumatoid arthritis.
Biologics; Rheumatoid arthritis; Treatment
The objective was to determine the safety of ocrelizumab (OCR) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
This was an analysis of the double-blind, placebo-controlled periods and long-term follow-up of 4 OCR phase III trials in RA (SCRIPT, STAGE, FILM and FEATURE). Safety data per study and the results of a meta-analysis of serious infectious events (SIEs) are presented.
Overall, 868 patients received placebo, 1064 patients OCR 200 mg×2 (or 400 mg×1) (OCR200), and 827 patients OCR 500 mg×2 (OCR500) plus background methotrexate (MTX) at baseline and 24 weeks. During the double-blind, placebo-controlled periods, the incidence of adverse events and serious adverse events was comparable between the OCR+MTX and placebo +MTX groups. Infusion-related reactions were more common with OCR+MTX and decreased in frequency with subsequent infusions. Serious infusion-related reactions were rare (0.1%). Serious infections occurred more frequently with OCR500+MTX. In the meta-analysis, a statistically significant difference from placebo +MTX in incidence of SIEs per 100 patient-years of 2.4 (95% CI, 0.3–4.5) was observed with OCR500+MTX, but not with OCR200+MTX (0.6; 95% CI, −1.3 to 2.4). Patients recruited in Asia exhibited a higher risk of serious infections (hazard ratio, 1.78; 95% CI, 1.03–3.06). The incidence of human anti-human antibodies was <5%. Long-term follow-up indicated no differences in malignancy rates between the treatment groups. There was no apparent difference in time to B-cell repletion between the OCR dose groups.
In placebo-controlled clinical trials of RA, OCR500+MTX was associated with a higher risk of serious infections compared with placebo +MTX. The safety profile of OCR 200+MTX was comparable with placebo+MTX.
STAGE Clinical Trials.gov NCT00406419
SCRIPT Clinical Trials.gov NCT00476996
FILM Clinical Trials.gov NCT00485589
FEATURE Clinical Trials.gov NCT00673920
Inhibition of inflammation and destruction but not osteoproliferation in spondyloarthritis (SpA) patients treated with anti-TNF raises the question of how these three processes are interrelated. This study aimed to analyze this relationship in a SpA rat model.
Histological spine and joint samples of HLA-B27/Huβ2m transgenic rats were analyzed for signs of spondylitis and destructive arthritis and semi-quantitatively scored as mild, moderate or severe inflammation.
In spondylitis, mild inflamed sections displayed lymphocyte infiltration in connective tissue adjacent to the junction of the annulus fibrosus and vertebral bone but not at the enthesis. Moderate inflamed tissue samples contained osteoclasts eroding bone outside the cartilage endplate. In severe inflammation, the cartilage endplate and underlying bone marrow were also affected. End-stage disease was characterized by complete destruction of the intervertebral disc and vertebrae, with ongoing infiltration. Osteoproliferation was not observed in samples with no or mild inflammation, but was present at the edge of the vertebrae in moderate inflammation and persisted during severe inflammation and end-stage destruction. Osteoproliferation occurred at the border of inflammation, at a distance from bone destruction. A strong correlation between the extent of inflammation, destruction and osteoproliferation was observed. Arthritis displayed a similar pattern of synovial inflammation associated with bone destruction, and simultaneous but topographically distinct osteoproliferation starting from the periosteum.
Spondyloarthritis in HLA-B27/Huβ2m tg rats is characterized by destructive inflammatory pannus tissue rather than by enthesitis or osteitis. Destruction and osteoproliferation occur simultaneously but at distinct sites in joints with moderate to severe inflammation.
Antibodies against adeno-associated viral vectors (AAV) are highly prevalent in humans. Both preclinical and clinical studies showed that antibodies against AAV block transduction even at low titers, particularly when the vector is introduced into the bloodstream. Here we measured the neutralizing antibody (NAb) titer against AAV serotype 2, 5, 6, and 8 in serum and matched synovial fluid (SF) from rheumatoid arthritis patients. The titer in SF was lower than in the matched plasma samples, indicating a difference in distribution of NAb to AAV depending on the body fluid compartment. This difference was more evident for AAV2, against which higher titers were measured. Of all serotypes, anti-AAV5 antibodies were the least prevalent in both serum and SF. We next evaluated the impact on anti-AAV antibodies of B cell depletion in rheumatoid arthritis patients who received one or two courses of the anti-CD20 antibody rituximab as part of their disease management. A drop of NAb titer was observed in a subset of those subjects carrying NAb titers ≤1:1000, however only in a minority of subjects titers dropped below 1:5. This work provides insights into strategies to overcome the limitation of pre-existing humoral immunity to AAV vectors.
adeno-associated virus vectors; neutralizing antibodies; synovial tissue
In the IMAGE study, rituximab plus methotrexate (MTX) inhibited joint damage and improved clinical outcomes at 1 year in MTX-naïve patients with early active rheumatoid arthritis.
The aim of this study was to assess joint damage progression and clinical outcomes over 2 years.
Patients (n=755) were randomised to receive rituximab 2×500 mg+MTX, 2×1000 mg+MTX or placebo+MTX. The placebo-controlled period continued to week 104. Two-year end points were defined as secondary or exploratory and included change in total Genant-modified Sharp score (mTSS), total erosion score and joint space narrowing score from baseline to week 104. Clinical efficacy and physical function end points were also assessed.
At 2 years, rituximab 2×1000 mg+MTX maintained inhibition of progressive joint damage versus MTX alone (mTSS change 0.41 vs 1.95; p<0.0001 (79% inhibition)), and a higher proportion of patients receiving rituximab 2×1000 mg+MTX had no radiographic progression over 2 years compared with those receiving MTX alone (57% vs 37%; p<0.0001). Contrary to 1-year results, exploratory analysis of rituximab 2×500 mg+MTX at 2 years showed that progressive joint damage was slowed by ∼61% versus placebo+MTX (mTSS, exploratory p=0.0041). Improvements in clinical signs and symptoms and physical function seen after 1 year in rituximab-treated patients versus those receiving placebo were maintained at year 2. Safety profiles were similar between groups.
Treatment with rituximab 2×1000 mg+MTX was associated with sustained improvements in radiographic, clinical and functional outcomes over 2 years.
Clinical trials.gov identifier NCT00299104.
Objective. A proliferation-inducing ligand (APRIL) and B-cell activating factor (BAFF) are B-cell-related mediators and may play a role in the pathogenesis in SS. In this descriptive study we assessed the expression of APRIL and BAFF in the minor salivary gland and serum from SS patients.
Methods. Paraffin-embedded minor salivary gland sections from SS patients, non-SS controls and healthy volunteers were analysed by immunohistochemistry. Digital image quantification was performed to evaluate the expression of BAFF, APRIL and transmembrane activator and CAML interactor. Furthermore, serum was analysed for soluble BAFF and APRIL levels by ELISA. All the data were also analysed for subjects with decreased and normal stimulated salivary flow independent of the classification.
Results. APRIL expression was lower in minor salivary gland biopsies from SS patients compared with healthy volunteers and to a lesser extent non-SS controls, whereas BAFF expression was similar in all groups. Soluble APRIL levels in serum were increased in SS patients and in subjects with decreased salivary flow independent of the classification.
Conclusion. APRIL salivary gland tissue levels are decreased, suggesting that targeting this cytokine locally in the salivary glands would not benefit SS patients. Moreover, the discrepancy between local and systemic levels is striking and future research should assess this in more detail.
Sjögren’s syndrome; minor salivary glands; a proliferation inducing ligand
Interferon beta (IFNβ) therapy is effective in multiple sclerosis and murine models of arthritis. Surprisingly, systemic IFNβ treatment induces only minimal improvement in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). To explain this paradox, the authors evaluated the mechanism of IFNβ benefit in passive K/BxN arthritis and the effect of IFNβ treatment on RA synovium.
Interleukin 10 (IL-10) null, IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) null, IL-1Ra transgenic and wild-type mice were administered K/BxN serum and in some cases treated with IFNβ or normal saline. Clinical response and histological scores were assessed. Gene expression was measured by quantitative PCR. Serum IL-1Ra and IL-6 were measured by ELISA. Paired synovial biopsy specimens from RA patients pre-IFNβ and post-IFNβ treatment (purified natural fibroblast IFNβ (Frone) subcutaneously three times weekly 6 million IU, 12 million IU or 18 million IU) were immunostained for IL-1Ra and IL-10.
Il1rn transgenic mice had an attenuated course of arthritis, whereas Il1rn−/− and Il10−/− mice had more severe serum transfer arthritis than wild-type mice. Daily IFNβ treatment significantly decreased arthritis severity in Il10−/− but not Il1rn−/− mice. IFNβ treatment did not reduce the histological scores in Il1rn−/− mice or gene expression of articular cytokines and chemokines. Paired synovial biopsy specimens from RA patients treated with IFNβ demonstrated a trend towards increased IL-1Ra and reduced IL-10 expression on day 85 levels compared with pretreatment specimens.
The anti-inflammatory effects of IFNβ in passive K/BxN arthritis are dependent on IL-1Ra, but not IL-10. Systemic IFNβ treatment in RA increases synovial IL-1Ra production, but also decreases IL-10 production.
RA is a syndrome consisting of different pathogenetic subsets in which distinct molecular mechanisms may drive common final pathways. Recent work has provided proof of principle that biomarkers may be identified predictive of the response to targeted therapy. Based on new insights, an initial treatment algorithm is presented that may be used to guide treatment decisions in patients who have failed one TNF inhibitor. Key questions in this algorithm relate to the question whether the patient is a primary vs a secondary non-responder to TNF blockade and whether the patient is RF and/or anti-citrullinated peptide antibody positive. This preliminary algorithm may contribute to more cost-effective treatment of RA, and provides the basis for more extensive algorithms when additional data become available.
rheumatoid arthritis; treatment; biomarkers; biologicals
The American College of Rheumatology and the European League Against Rheumatism have developed new classification criteria for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The aim of Phase 2 of the development process was to achieve expert consensus on the clinical and laboratory variables that should contribute to the final criteria set.
Twenty-four expert RA clinicians (12 from Europe and 12 from North America) participated in Phase 2. A consensus-based decision analysis approach was used to identify factors (and their relative weights) that influence the probability of “developing RA,” complemented by data from the Phase 1 study. Patient case scenarios were used to identify and reach consensus on factors important in determining the probability of RA development. Decision analytic software was used to derive the relative weights for each of the factors and their categories, using choice-based conjoint analysis.
The expert panel agreed that the new classification criteria should be applied to individuals with undifferentiated inflammatory arthritis in whom at least 1 joint is deemed by an expert assessor to be swollen, indicating definite synovitis. In this clinical setting, they identified 4 additional criteria as being important: number of joints involved and site of involvement, serologic abnormality, acute-phase response, and duration of symptoms in the involved joints. These criteria were consistent with those identified in the Phase 1 data-driven approach.
The consensus-based, decision analysis approach used in Phase 2 complemented the Phase 1 efforts. The 4 criteria and their relative weights form the basis of the final criteria set.
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.
Anti–tumor necrosis factor α (anti-TNF) therapy is a mainstay of treatment in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The aim of the present study was to test established RA genetic risk factors to determine whether the same alleles also influence the response to anti-TNF therapy.
A total of 1,283 RA patients receiving etanercept, infliximab, or adalimumab therapy were studied from among an international collaborative consortium of 9 different RA cohorts. The primary end point compared RA patients with a good treatment response according to the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) response criteria (n = 505) with RA patients considered to be nonresponders (n = 316). The secondary end point was the change from baseline in the level of disease activity according to the Disease Activity Score in 28 joints (ΔDAS28). Clinical factors such as age, sex, and concomitant medications were tested as possible correlates of treatment response. Thirty-one single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with the risk of RA were genotyped and tested for any association with treatment response, using univariate and multivariate logistic regression models.
Of the 31 RA-associated risk alleles, a SNP at the PTPRC (also known as CD45) gene locus (rs10919563) was associated with the primary end point, a EULAR good response versus no response (odds ratio [OR] 0.55, P = 0.0001 in the multivariate model). Similar results were obtained using the secondary end point, the ΔDAS28 (P = 0.0002). There was suggestive evidence of a stronger association in autoantibody-positive patients with RA (OR 0.55, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 0.39–0.76) as compared with autoantibody-negative patients (OR 0.90, 95% CI 0.41–1.99).
Statistically significant associations were observed between the response to anti-TNF therapy and an RA risk allele at the PTPRC gene locus. Additional studies will be required to replicate this finding in additional patient collections.
To evaluate inter‐observer agreement for microscopic measurement of inflammation in synovial tissue using manual quantitative, semiquantitative and computerised digital image analysis.
Paired serial sections of synovial tissue, obtained at arthroscopic biopsy of the knee from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), were stained immunohistochemically for T lymphocyte (CD3) and macrophage (CD68) markers. Manual quantitative and semiquantitative scores for sub‐lining layer CD3+ and CD68+ cell infiltration were independently derived in 6 international centres. Three centres derived scores using computerised digital image analysis. Inter‐observer agreement was evaluated using Spearman's Rho and intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs).
Paired tissue sections from 12 patients were selected for evaluation. Satisfactory inter‐observer agreement was demonstrated for all 3 methods of analysis. Using manual methods, ICCs for measurement of CD3+ and CD68+ cell infiltration were 0.73 and 0.73 for quantitative analysis and 0.83 and 0.78 for semiquantitative analysis, respectively. Corresponding ICCs of 0.79 and 0.58 were observed for the use of digital image analysis. All ICCs were significant at levels of p<0.0001. At each participating centre, use of computerised image analysis produced results that correlated strongly and significantly with those obtained using manual measurement.
Strong inter‐observer agreement was demonstrated for microscopic measurement of synovial inflammation in RA using manual quantitative, semiquantitative and computerised digital methods of analysis. This further supports the development of these methods as outcome measures in RA.
In vitro, microparticles can activate complement via the classical pathway. If demonstrable ex vivo, this mechanism may contribute to the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We therefore investigated the presence of activated complement components and complement activator molecules on the surface of cell‐derived microparticles of RA patients and healthy individuals.
Microparticles from synovial fluid (n = 8) and plasma (n = 9) of 10 RA patients and plasma of sex‐ and age‐matched healthy individuals (n = 10) were analysed by flow cytometry for bound complement components (C1q, C4, C3) and complement activator molecules (C‐reactive protein (CRP), serum amyloid P component (SAP), immunoglobulin (Ig) M, IgG).
Microparticles with bound C1q, C4, and/or C3 were abundant in RA synovial fluid, while in RA and control plasma much lower levels were present. Microparticles with bound C1q correlated with those with bound C3 in synovial fluid (r = 0.961, p = 0.0001), and with those with bound C4 in plasma (RA: r = 0.908, p = 0.0007; control: r = 0.632, p = 0.0498), indicating classical pathway activation. In synovial fluid, microparticles with IgM and IgG correlated with those with C1q (r = 0.728, p = 0.0408; r = 0.952, p = 0.0003, respectively), and in plasma, microparticles with CRP correlated with those with C1q (RA: r = 0.903, p = 0.0021; control: r = 0.683, p = 0.0296), implicating IgG and IgM in the classical pathway activation in RA synovial fluid, and CRP in the low level classical pathway activation in plasma.
This study demonstrates the presence of bound complement components and activator molecules on microparticles ex vivo, and supports their role in low grade complement activation in plasma and increased complement activation in RA synovial fluid.
complement activation; microparticles; rheumatoid arthritis
Recent clinical and preclinical studies have demonstrated that systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, unlike in the general population, little is known regarding the efficacy of atheroprotective interventions in patients with SLE. The current study aims to determine the benefit of lymphocyte inhibition on reducing the atherosclerotic burden in SLE-susceptible LDLr-deficient mice.
Female LDLr−/− mice were lethally irradiated and reconstituted with bone marrow from C57Bl/6 mice (LDLr.B6) or the SLE-susceptible B6.Sle1.2.3 mice (LDLr. Sle). At 16 weeks post transplant, mice were treated with atorvastatin (10 mg/kg), mycophenolate mofetil (MMF; 40 mg/kg), or both (MMF-A) for 8 weeks, after which the extent of atherosclerosis and the presence of SLE were assessed.
Following 8 weeks of treatment, we observed that atorvastatin-mediated reduction in cholesterol levels attenuated atherogenesis in LDLr.B6 mice but failed to significantly reduce atherosclerotic lesion size in LDLr. Sle mice, in spite of a significant reduction in serum cholesterol levels. Treatment with MMF and MMF-A attenuated atherogenesis in LDLr.B6 and LDLr.Sle mice. In addition, MMF-containing regimens inhibited recruitment of CD4+ T cells to atherosclerotic lesions in LDLr.Sle mice. In these mice, MMF also reduced the proportion of activated splenic T cells, as well as interleukin 10 secretion by T cells. With regard to lupus activity, MMF had no overt effect on anti-double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) antibody titres or kidney function and pathology.
The current study demonstrates that reduction of cholesterol levels alone is not atheroprotective in lupus-mediated atherogenesis. This is the first study to demonstrate that MMF reduces the atherosclerotic burden in a model of lupus-accelerated atherosclerosis. Our results suggest that MMF treatment may prove beneficial in preventing CVD in patients with SLE.