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1.  Generation of disease-specific induced pluripotent stem cells from patients with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis 
Introduction
Since the concept of reprogramming mature somatic cells to generate induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) was demonstrated in 2006, iPSCs have become a potential substitute for embryonic stem cells (ESCs) given their pluripotency and “stemness” characteristics, which resemble those of ESCs. We investigated to reprogram fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs) from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA) to generate iPSCs using a 4-in-1 lentiviral vector system.
Methods
A 4-in-1 lentiviral vector containing Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, and c-Myc was transduced into RA and OA FLSs isolated from the synovia of two RA patients and two OA patients. Immunohistochemical staining and real-time PCR studies were performed to demonstrate the pluripotency of iPSCs. Chromosomal abnormalities were determined based on the karyotype. SCID-beige mice were injected with iPSCs and sacrificed to test for teratoma formation.
Results
After 14 days of transduction using the 4-in-1 lentiviral vector, RA FLSs and OA FLSs were transformed into spherical shapes that resembled embryonic stem cell colonies. Colonies were picked and cultivated on matrigel plates to produce iPSC lines. Real-time PCR of RA and OA iPSCs detected positive markers of pluripotency. Immunohistochemical staining tests with Nanog, Oct4, Sox2, Tra-1-80, Tra-1-60, and SSEA-4 were also positive. Teratomas that comprised three compartments of ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm were formed at the injection sites of iPSCs. Established iPSCs were shown to be compatible by karyotyping. Finally, we confirmed that the patient-derived iPSCs were able to differentiate into osteoblast, which was shown by an osteoimage mineralization assay.
Conclusion
FLSs derived from RA and OA could be cell resources for iPSC reprogramming. Disease- and patient-specific iPSCs have the potential to be applied in clinical settings as source materials for molecular diagnosis and regenerative therapy.
doi:10.1186/ar4470
PMCID: PMC3978583  PMID: 24490617
2.  IL-17-mediated Bcl-2 expression regulates survival of fibroblast-like synoviocytes in rheumatoid arthritis through STAT3 activation 
Introduction
Fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs) are a major cell population of the pannus that invades adjacent cartilage and bone in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The study was undertaken to determine the effect of interleukin-17 (IL-17) on the survival and/or proliferation of FLSs from RA patients and to investigate whether signal tranducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) is implicated in this process.
Methods
Bcl-2 and Bax expression in FLSs was determined using the real-time PCR and western blot analysis. The expression of Bcl-2 and phosphoSTAT3 in synovial tissues was investigated by confocal microscope. Apoptosis of FLSs was detected by Annexin V/propidium iodide staining and/or phase contrast microscopy. The proliferation of FLSs was determined by CCK-8 ELISA assay.
Results
The pro-apoptotic Bax is decreased and anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 is increased in FLSs from RA patients compared with those from patients with osteoarthritis (OA). IL-17 upregulated the expression of Bcl-2 in FLSs from RA patients, but not in FLSs from OA patients. STAT3 was found to mediate IL-17-induced Bcl-2 upregulation in FLSs from RA patients. Additionally, IL-17 promoted the survival and proliferation of FLSs from RA patients. Most importantly, treatment with STAT3 inhibitor reversed the protective effect of IL-17 on FLSs apoptosis induced by sodium nitroprusside (SNP).
Conclusions
Our data demonstrate that STAT3 is critical in IL-17-induced survival of FLS from RA patients. Therefore, therapeutic strategies that target the IL-17/STAT3 pathway might be strong candidates for RA treatment modalities.
doi:10.1186/ar4179
PMCID: PMC3672783  PMID: 23421940
3.  IL-32 and IL-17 interact and have the potential to aggravate osteoclastogenesis in rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(6):R246.
Introduction
Interleukin (IL)-32 and IL-17 play critical roles in pro-inflammatory responses and are highly expressed in the synovium of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We investigated the relations between these two cytokines (IL-17 and IL-32) for their ability to induce each other and to stimulate osteoclasts in RA fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs) and T cells.
Methods
FLSs were isolated through surgical synovectomy obtained from patients with RA or osteoarthritis (OA). Real-time PCR were performed to evaluate the expression of IL-32, IL-17 and osteoclast-related genes. Immunohistochemical staining and tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) staining were performed to determine the distribution of inflammatory cytokines and the presence of osteoclastogenesis.
Results
IL-17 induced the expression of IL-32 in the FLSs from RA patients, as assessed by microarray. IL-32 production was increased by IL-17. IL-32 in the FLSs from RA patients induced the production of IL-17 in CD4+ T cells. IL-32 and IL-17 were colocalized near TRAP-positive areas in joint specimens. IL-17 and IL-32 synergistically induced the differentiation of osteoclasts, as demonstrated by the expression of osteoclast-related genes. IL-32 and IL-17 also could induce resorption by osteoclasts in a RANKL-dependent manner.
Conclusions
IL-17 affected the expression of IL-32 in FLSs of RA patients and IL-32 induced the production of IL-17 in CD4+ T cells. Both IL-17 and IL-32 cytokines can reciprocally influence each other's production and amplify the function of osteoclastogenesis in the in RA synovium. Separately, IL-17 and IL-32 each stimulated osteoclastogenesis without RANKL. Together, the two cytokines synergistically amplified the differentiation of osteoclasts, independent of RANKL stimulation.
doi:10.1186/ar4089
PMCID: PMC3674587  PMID: 23148681
4.  TLR2 ligation induces the production of IL-23/IL-17 via IL-6, STAT3 and NF-kB pathway in patients with primary Sjogren's syndrome 
Introduction
The study was undertaken to investigate the interrelation of toll-like receptor (TLR) and interleukin (IL)-17 in the salivary glands of patients with primary Sjogren's syndrome (pSS) and to determine the role of TLR and IL-17 in the pathophysiology of pSS.
Methods
The expressions of various TLRs, IL-17 and the cytokines involved in Th17 cell differentiation including IL-6, IL-23, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and IL-1β were examined by immunohistochemistry in salivary glands of pSS patients. The IL-17 producing CD4+ T cells (Th17 cells) were examined by flow cytometry and confocal staining in peripheral mononuclear blood cells (PMBCs) and salivary glands of pSS patients. After PBMCs were treated with TLR specific ligands, the induction of IL-17 and IL-23 was determined using real-time PCR and ELISA. The signaling pathway that mediates the TLR2 stimulated production of IL-17 and IL-23 was investigated by using treatment with specific signaling inhibitors.
Results
We showed that TLR2, TLR4, TLR6, IL-17 and the cytokines associated with Th17 cells were highly expressed in salivary glands of pSS patients but not in controls. The expressions of TLR2, TLR4 and TLR6 were observed in the infiltrating mononuclear cells and ductal epithelial cells, whereas IL-17 was mainly observed in infiltrating CD4+ T cells. The number of IL-17 producing CD4+ T cells was significantly higher in pSS patients both in PBMCs and minor salivary glands. The stimulation of TLR2, TLR4 and TLR6 additively induced the production of IL-17 and IL-23 from the PBMCs of pSS patients especially in the presence of TLR2 stimulation. IL-6, signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) and nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kB) pathways were implicated in the TLR2 stimulated IL-17 and IL-23.
Conclusions
Our data demonstrate that TLR2 ligation induces the production of IL-23/IL-17 via IL-6, STAT3 and NF-kB pathway in pSS. Therefore, therapeutic strategies that target TLR/IL-17 pathway might be strong candidates for treatment modalities of pSS.
doi:10.1186/ar3780
PMCID: PMC3446432  PMID: 22417709
5.  Impact of interleukin-21 in the pathogenesis of primary Sjogren's syndrome: increased serum levels of interleukin-21 and its expression in the labial salivary glands 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(5):R179.
Introduction
Interleukin (IL)-21 is a cytokine that controls the functional activity of effector T helper cells and the differentiation of Th17 cells, and promotes B-cell differentiation. To test whether IL-21 participates in the pathogenesis of primary Sjögren's syndrome (SS), serum IL-21 level was measured and IL-21 expression in the labial salivary glands (LSG) was examined.
Methods
Serum IL-21 levels in 40 primary SS, 40 rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and 38 systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients and 20 healthy controls were measured. Serum IL-21 levels of SS patients were assessed for correlations with laboratory data, including anti-nuclear antibody, anti-Ro/La antibodies, globulin, immunoglobulin (Ig) class, and IgG subclass. LSGs from 16 primary SS and 4 controls with sicca symptoms were evaluated for IL-21 and IL-21 receptor (IL-21R) expression by immunohistochemistry. Confocal microscopy was performed to further characterize the IL-21 positive cells.
Results
Primary SS patients had significantly higher serum IL-21 levels than controls, and these increments correlated positively with levels of IgG, IgG1. Serum IgG1 levels correlated with anti-Ro antibody titers. Immunohistochemical analyses showed that lymphocytic foci and the periductal area of the LSGs from SS patients expressed high levels of IL-21 and lower levels of IL-21R, whereas the control LSGs showed minimal expression of both antigens. The more the lymphocyte infiltrated, IL-21expression in LSGs showed a tendency to increase. Confocal microscopic analyses revealed that IL-21 expressing infiltrating lymphocytes in the LSGs of SS patients also expressed CXCR5.
Conclusions
Primary SS is associated with high serum IL-21 levels that correlate positively with serum IgG, especially IgG1, levels. The expression of IL-21 is increased as more lymphocytes infiltrated in LSGs. These observations suggest that IL-21 may play an important role in primary SS pathogenesis.
doi:10.1186/ar3504
PMCID: PMC3308114  PMID: 22030011
IL-21; IL-21 receptor; Sjogren's syndrome; Immunoglobulin G1; Labial salivary gland
6.  The expression of the receptor for advanced glycation end-products (RAGE) in RA-FLS is induced by IL-17 via Act-1 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(4):R113.
Introduction
The receptor for advanced glycation end-products (RAGE) has been implicated in the pathogenesis of arthritis. We conducted this study to determine the effect of interleukin (IL)-17 on the expression and production of RAGE in fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The role of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) activator 1 (Act1) in IL-17-induced RAGE expression in RA-FLS was also evaluated.
Methods
RAGE expression in synovial tissues was assessed by immunohistochemical staining. RAGE mRNA production was determined by real-time polymerase chain reaction. Act-1 short hairpin RNA (shRNA) was produced and treated to evaluate the role of Act-1 on RAGE production.
Results
RAGE, IL-17, and Act-1 expression increased in RA synovium compared to osteoarthritis synovium. RAGE expression and production increased by IL-17 and IL-1β (*P <0.05 vs. untreated cells) treatment but not by tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α in RA-FLS. The combined stimuli of both IL-17 and IL-1β significantly increased RAGE production compared to a single stimulus with IL-17 or IL-1β alone (P <0.05 vs. 10 ng/ml IL-17). Act-1 shRNA added to the RA-FLS culture supernatant completely suppressed the enhanced production of RAGE induced by IL-17.
Conclusions
RAGE was overexpressed in RA synovial tissues, and RAGE production was stimulated by IL-17 and IL-1β. Act-1 contributed to the stimulatory effect of IL-17 on RAGE production, suggesting a possible inhibitory target for RA treatment.
doi:10.1186/ar3398
PMCID: PMC3239351  PMID: 21749686
7.  Dysfunctional interferon-α production by peripheral plasmacytoid dendritic cells upon Toll-like receptor-9 stimulation in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus 
Background
It is well known that interferon (IFN)-α is important to the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). However, several reports have indicated that the number of IFN-α producing cells are decreased or that their function is defective in patients with SLE. We studied the function of plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) under persistent stimulation of Toll-like receptor (TLR)9 via a TLR9 ligand (CpG ODN2216) or SLE serum.
Methods
The concentrations of IFN-α were determined in serum and culture supernatant of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from SLE patients and healthy controls after stimulation with CpG ODN2216 or SLE serum. The numbers of circulating pDCs were analyzed by fluoresence-activated cell sorting analysis. pDCs were treated with CpG ODN2216 and SLE serum repeatedly, and levels of produced IFN-α were measured. The expression of IFN-α signature genes and inhibitory molecules of TLR signaling were examined in PBMCs from SLE patients and healthy control individuals.
Results
Although there was no significant difference in serum concentration of IFN-α and number of circulating pDCs between SLE patients and healthy control individuals, the IFN-α producing capacity of PBMCs was significantly reduced in SLE patients. Interestingly, the degree which TLR9 ligand-induced IFN-α production in SLE PBMCs was inversely correlated with the SLE serum-induced production of IFN-α in healthy PMBCs. Because repeated stimulation pDCs with TLR9 ligands showed decreased level of IFN-α production, continuous TLR9 stimulation may lead to decreased production of IFN-α in SLE PBMCs. In addition, PBMCs isolated from SLE patients exhibited higher expression of IFN-α signature genes and inhibitory molecules of TLR signaling, indicating that these cells had already undergone IFN-α stimulation and had become desensitized to TLR signaling.
Conclusion
We suggest that the persistent presence of endogenous IFN-α inducing factors induces TLR tolerance in pDCs of SLE patients, leading to impaired production of IFN-α.
doi:10.1186/ar2382
PMCID: PMC2453773  PMID: 18321389
8.  Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase-expressing dendritic cells are involved in the generation of CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells in Peyer's patches in an orally tolerized, collagen-induced arthritis mouse model 
Introduction
The present study was devised to understand the role of systemic indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) in the tolerance induction for orally tolerized mice in collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). We examined whether IDO-expressing dendritic cells (DCs) are involved in the generation of CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells during the induction of oral tolerance in a murine CIA model.
Methods
Type II collagen was fed six times to DBA/1 mice beginning 2 weeks before immunization, and the effect on arthritis was assessed. To examine the IDO expression, the DCs of messenger RNA and protein were analyzed by RT-PCR and Flow cytometry. In addition, a proliferative response assay was also carried out to determine the suppressive effects of DCs through IDO. The ability of DCs expressing IDO to induce CD4+CD25+ T regulatory cells was examined.
Results
CD11c+ DCs in Peyer's patches from orally tolerized mice expressed a higher level of IDO than DCs from nontolerized CIA mice. IDO-expressing CD11c+ DCs were involved in the suppression of type II collagen-specific T-cell proliferation and in the downregulation of proinflammatory T helper 1 cytokine production. The suppressive effect of IDO-expressing CD11c+ DCs was mediated by Foxp3+CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells.
Conclusion
Our data suggest that tolerogenic CD11c+ DCs are closely linked with the induction of oral tolerance through an IDO-dependent mechanism and that this pathway may provide a new therapeutic modality to treat autoimmune arthritis.
doi:10.1186/ar2361
PMCID: PMC2374459  PMID: 18221522
9.  Increased interleukin-17 production via a phosphoinositide 3-kinase/Akt and nuclear factor κB-dependent pathway in patients with rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2004;7(1):R139-R148.
Inflammatory mediators have been recognized as being important in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Interleukin (IL)-17 is an important regulator of immune and inflammatory responses, including the induction of proinflammatory cytokines and osteoclastic bone resorption. Evidence for the expression and proinflammatory activity of IL-17 has been demonstrated in RA synovium and in animal models of RA. Although some cytokines (IL-15 and IL-23) have been reported to regulate IL-17 production, the intracellular signaling pathways that regulate IL-17 production remain unknown. In the present study, we investigated the role of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt pathway in the regulation of IL-17 production in RA. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from patients with RA (n = 24) were separated, then stimulated with various agents including anti-CD3, anti-CD28, phytohemagglutinin (PHA) and several inflammatory cytokines and chemokines. IL-17 levels were determined by sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction. The production of IL-17 was significantly increased in cells treated with anti-CD3 antibody with or without anti-CD28 and PHA (P < 0.05). Among tested cytokines and chemokines, IL-15, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 and IL-6 upregulated IL-17 production (P < 0.05), whereas tumor necrosis factor-α, IL-1β, IL-18 or transforming growth factor-β did not. IL-17 was also detected in the PBMC of patients with osteoarthritis, but their expression levels were much lower than those of RA PBMC. Anti-CD3 antibody activated the PI3K/Akt pathway; activation of this pathway resulted in a pronounced augmentation of nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) DNA-binding activity. IL-17 production by activated RA PBMC is completely or partly blocked in the presence of the NF-κB inhibitor pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate and the PI3K/Akt inhibitor wortmannin and LY294002, respectively. However, inhibition of activator protein-1 and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 did not affect IL-17 production. These results suggest that signal transduction pathways dependent on PI3K/Akt and NF-κB are involved in the overproduction of the key inflammatory cytokine IL-17 in RA.
doi:10.1186/ar1470
PMCID: PMC1064895  PMID: 15642134
interleukin-17; nuclear factor κB; PI3K/Akt pathway; peripheral blood mononuclear cells; rheumatoid arthritis
10.  Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus have abnormally elevated Epstein–Barr virus load in blood 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2004;6(4):R295-R302.
Various genetic and environmental factors appear to be involved in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) is among the environmental factors that are suspected of predisposing to SLE, based on the characteristics of EBV itself and on sequence homologies between autoantigens and EBV antigens. In addition, higher titers of anti-EBV antibodies and increased EBV seroconversion rates have been observed in SLE patients as compared with healthy control individuals. Serologic responses do not directly reflect EBV status within the body. Clarification of the precise status of EBV infection in SLE patients would help to improve our understanding of the role played by EBV in this disease. In the present study we determined EBV types in SLE patients (n = 66) and normal control individual (n = 63) by direct PCR analysis of mouthwash samples. We also compared EBV load in blood between SLE patients (n = 24) and healthy control individuals (n = 29) using semiquantitative PCR assay. The number of infections and EBV type distribution were similar between adult SLE patients and healthy control individuals (98.5% versus 94%). Interestingly, the EBV burden in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) was over 15-fold greater in SLE patients than in healthy control individuals (mean ± standard deviation: 463 ± 570 EBV genome copies/3 μg PBMC DNA versus 30 ± 29 EBV genome copies/3 μg PBMC DNA; P = 0.001), suggesting that EBV infection is abnormally regulated in SLE. The abnormally increased proportion of EBV-infected B cells in the SLE patients may contribute to enhanced autoantibody production in this disease.
doi:10.1186/ar1181
PMCID: PMC464871  PMID: 15225364
Epstein–Barr virus; Epstein–Barr virus type; systemic lupus erythematosus; virus burden
11.  Induction of IL-10-producing CD4+CD25+ T cells in animal model of collagen-induced arthritis by oral administration of type II collagen 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2004;6(3):R213-R219.
Induction of oral tolerance has long been considered a promising approach to the treatment of chronic autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Oral administration of type II collagen (CII) has been proven to improve signs and symptoms in RA patients without troublesome toxicity. To investigate the mechanism of immune suppression mediated by orally administered antigen, we examined changes in serum IgG subtypes and T-cell proliferative responses to CII, and generation of IL-10-producing CD4+CD25+ T-cell subsets in an animal model of collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). We found that joint inflammation in CIA mice peaked at 5 weeks after primary immunization with CII, which was significantly less in mice tolerized by repeated oral feeding of CII before CIA induction. Mice that had been fed with CII also exhibited increased serum IgG1 and decreased serum IgG2a as compared with nontolerized CIA animals. The T-cell proliferative response to CII was suppressed in lymph nodes of tolerized mice also. Production of IL-10 and of transforming growth factor-β from mononuclear lymphocytes was increased in the tolerized animals, and CD4+ T cells isolated from tolerized mice did not respond with induction of IFN-γ when stimulated in vitro with CII. We also observed greater induction of IL-10-producing CD4+CD25+ subsets among CII-stimulated splenic T cells from tolerized mice. These data suggest that when these IL-10-producing CD4+CD25+ T cells encounter CII antigen in affected joints they become activated to exert an anti-inflammatory effect.
doi:10.1186/ar1169
PMCID: PMC416445  PMID: 15142267
collagen-induced arthritis; IL-10; oral tolerance; type II collagen
12.  IL-17 induces production of IL-6 and IL-8 in rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts via NF-κB- and PI3-kinase/Akt-dependent pathways 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2004;6(2):R120-R128.
Recent studies of the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have revealed that both synovial fibroblasts and T cells participate in the perpetuation of joint inflammation as dynamic partners in a mutual activation feedback, via secretion of cytokines and chemokines that stimulate each other. In this study, we investigated the role of IL-17, a major Th1 cytokine produced by activated T cells, in the activation of RA synovial fibroblasts. Transcripts of IL-17R (IL-17 receptor) and IL-17RB (IL-17 receptor B) were present in fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) of RA patients. IL-17R responded with increased expression upon in vitro stimulation with IL-17, while the level of IL-17RB did not change. IL-17 enhanced the production of IL-6 and IL-8 in FLS, as previously shown, but did not affect the synthesis of IL-15. IL-17 appears to be a stronger inducer of IL-6 and IL-8 than IL-15, and even exerted activation comparable to that of IL-1β in RA FLS. IL-17-mediated induction of IL-6 and IL-8 was transduced via activation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt and NF-κB, while CD40 ligation and p38 MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase) are not likely to partake in the process. Together these results suggest that IL-17 is capable of more than accessory roles in the activation of RA FLS and provide grounds for targeting IL-17-associated pathways in therapeutic modulation of arthritis inflammation.
doi:10.1186/ar1038
PMCID: PMC400429  PMID: 15059275
fibroblast-like synoviocytes; IL-17; phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase; rheumatoid arthritis

Results 1-12 (12)