A protein analysis using a mass spectrometry indicated that there are serum proteins showing significant quantitative changes after the administration of infliximab. Among them, connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) seems to be related to the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Therefore, this study was conducted to investigate how CTGF is associated with the disease progression of RA.
Serum samples were collected from RA patients in active or inactive disease stages, and before or after treatments with infliximab. CTGF production was evaluated by ELISA, RT-PCR, indirect immunofluorescence microscopy, and immunoblotting. Osteoclastogenesis was evaluated using tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) staining, a bone resorption assay and osteoclasts specific catalytic enzymes productions.
The serum concentrations of CTGF in RA were greater than in normal healthy controls and disease controls. Interestingly, those were significantly higher in active RA patients compared to inactive RA patients. Furthermore, the CTGF levels significantly were decreased by infliximab concomitant with the disease amelioration. In addition, tumour necrosis factor (TNF)α can induce the CTGF production from synovial fibroblasts even though TNFα can oppositely inhibit the production of CTGF from chondrocytes. CTGF promoted the induction of the quantitative and qualitative activities of osteoclasts in combination with M-CSF and receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL). In addition, we newly found integrin αVβ3 on the osteoclasts as a CTGF receptor.
These results indicate that aberrant CTGF production induced by TNFα plays a central role for the abnormal osteoclastic activation in RA patients. Restoration of aberrant CTGF production may contribute to the inhibition of articular destruction in infliximab treatment.