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1.  Blocking the janus-activated kinase pathway reduces tumor necrosis factor alpha-induced interleukin-18 bioactivity by caspase-1 inhibition 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2014;16(2):R102.
Introduction
Our objective was to examine the role of the janus-activated kinase (JAK) pathway in the modulation of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF)-induced-IL-18 bioactivity by reduction of caspase-1 function.
Methods
Caspase-1 expression in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) synovial fibroblasts treated with TNF was assessed by qRT-PCR and Western blot. Interleukin (IL)-18 was assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in cell lysates and conditioned media and detected by immunofluorescence (IF) staining in RA synovial fibroblasts. The critical pathways for TNF-induced caspase-1 expression were determined by using chemical inhibitors of signaling followed by TNF stimulation. IL-18 bioactivity was assessed using human myelomonocytic KG-1 cells.
Results
TNF induced RA synovial fibroblast caspase-1 expression at the protein level in a time-dependant manner (P < 0.05). Blocking the JAK pathway reduced TNF-induced-caspase-1 expression at the transcriptional and protein levels by approximately 60% and 40%, respectively (P < 0.05). Blocking the JAK pathway reduced TNF-induced-caspase-1 expression at the transcriptional, protein, and activity levels by approximately 60%, 40%, and 53%, respectively (P < 0.05). We then confirmed by IF that TNF-induced IL-18 and investigated roles of the ERK1/2 and JAK pathways. Blocking the JAK pathway, TNF induced intracytoplasmic granular IL-18 expression suggesting a defect of caspase-1. Finally, blocking the JAK pathway, we observed a reduction of IL-18 bioactivity by 52% in RA synovial fibroblasts (P < 0.05).
Conclusions
These results provide a new way to regulate TNF-induced-IL-18 bioactivity by blocking capase-1. These data present a novel role for JAK inhibition in RA patients and emphasize JAK inhibition use as a new therapeutic option in RA management.
doi:10.1186/ar4551
PMCID: PMC4060193  PMID: 24762050
2.  Inhibitor of DNA binding 1 as a secreted angiogenic transcription factor in rheumatoid arthritis 
Introduction
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is characterized by enhanced blood vessel development in joint synovium. This involves the recruitment of endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), allowing for de novo vessel formation and pro-inflammatory cell infiltration. Inhibitor of DNA Binding 1 (Id1) is a transcription factor characteristic of EPCs that influences cell maturation.
Method
Enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay (ELISA) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) were used to examine Id1 levels in synovial fluid (SF) and endothelial cells (ECs), respectively. Immunohistology was used to determine the expression of Id1 in synovial tissue (ST). Human dermal microvascular EC (HMVEC) migration and tube forming assays were used to determine if recombinant human Id1 (rhuId1) and/or RA SF immunodepleted Id1 showed angiogenic activity. We also utilized the RA ST severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mouse chimera to examine if Id1 recruits EPCs to RA synovium.
Results
ST samples immunostained for Id1 showed heightened expression in RA compared to osteoarthritis (OA) and normal (NL) ST. By immunofluorescence staining, we found significantly more Id1 in RA compared to OA and NL vasculature, showing that Id1 expressing cells, and therefore EPCs, are most active in vascular remodeling in the RA synovium. We also detected significantly more Id1 in RA compared to OA and other arthritis SFs by ELISA, which correlates highly with Chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 16 (CXCL16) levels. In vitro chemotaxis assays showed that Id1 is highly chemotactic for HMVECs and can be attenuated by inhibition of Nuclear Factor κB and phosphoinositide 3-kinase. Using in vitro Matrigel assays, we found that HMVECs form tubes in response to rhuId1 and that Id1 immunodepleted from RA SF profoundly decreases tube formation in Matrigel in vitro. PCR showed that Id1 mRNA could be up-regulated in EPCs compared to HMVECs in response to CXCL16. Finally, using the K/BxN serum induced arthritis model, we found that EC CXCR6 correlated with Id1 expression by immunohistochemistry.
Conclusions
We conclude that Id1 correlates highly with CXCL16 expression, EPC recruitment, and blood vessel formation in the RA joint, and that Id1 is potently angiogenic and can be up-regulated in EPCs by CXCL16.
doi:10.1186/ar4507
PMCID: PMC4060463  PMID: 24620998
3.  Fucosyltransferase 1 mediates angiogenesis, cell adhesion and rheumatoid arthritis synovial tissue fibroblast proliferation 
Introduction
We previously reported that sialyl Lewisy, synthesized by fucosyltransferases, is involved in angiogenesis. Fucosyltransferase 1 (fut1) is an α(1,2)-fucosyltransferase responsible for synthesis of the H blood group and Lewisy antigens. However, the angiogenic involvement of fut 1 in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis synovial tissue (RA ST) has not been clearly defined.
Methods
Assay of α(1,2)-linked fucosylated proteins in RA was performed by enzyme-linked lectin assay. Fut1 expression was determined in RA ST samples by immunohistological staining. We performed angiogenic Matrigel assays using a co-culture system of human dermal microvascular endothelial cells (HMVECs) and fut1 small interfering RNA (siRNA) transfected RA synovial fibroblasts. To determine if fut1 played a role in leukocyte retention and cell proliferation in the RA synovium, myeloid THP-1 cell adhesion assays and fut1 siRNA transfected RA synovial fibroblast proliferation assays were performed.
Results
Total α(1,2)-linked fucosylated proteins in RA ST were significantly higher compared to normal (NL) ST. Fut1 expression on RA ST lining cells positively correlated with ST inflammation. HMVECs from a co-culture system with fut1 siRNA transfected RA synovial fibroblasts exhibited decreased endothelial cell tube formation compared to control siRNA transfected RA synovial fibroblasts. Fut1 siRNA also inhibited myeloid THP-1 adhesion to RA synovial fibroblasts and RA synovial fibroblast proliferation.
Conclusions
These data show that α(1,2)-linked fucosylated proteins are upregulated in RA ST compared to NL ST. We also show that fut1 in RA synovial fibroblasts is important in angiogenesis, leukocyte-synovial fibroblast adhesion, and synovial fibroblast proliferation, all key processes in the pathogenesis of RA.
doi:10.1186/ar4456
PMCID: PMC3978694  PMID: 24467809
4.  NK4 therapy: a new approach to target angiogenesis and inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis 
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a progressive autoimmune disease characterized by synovial membrane hyperplasia, inflammation, and angiogenesis. Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and its receptor, c-Met, are both overexpressed in the RA synovium. NK4 is an antagonist of HGF which has been shown to inhibit tumor growth, metastasis, and angiogenesis. In an experimental model of RA, NK4 gene therapy inhibited joint damage and inflammation in both preventative and therapeutic models. NK4 treatment therefore represents a possible therapeutic option in combating RA.
doi:10.1186/ar4320
PMCID: PMC3979028  PMID: 24074223
5.  Suppression of endothelial cell activity by inhibition of TNFα 
Introduction
TNFα is a proinflammatory cytokine that plays a central role in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We investigated the effects of certolizumab pegol, a TNFα blocker, on endothelial cell function and angiogenesis.
Methods
Human dermal microvascular endothelial cells (HMVECs) were stimulated with TNFα with or without certolizumab pegol. TNFα-induced adhesion molecule expression and angiogenic chemokine secretion were measured by cell surface ELISA and angiogenic chemokine ELISA, respectively. We also examined the effect of certolizumab pegol on TNFα-induced myeloid human promyelocytic leukemia (HL-60) cell adhesion to HMVECs, as well as blood vessels in RA synovial tissue using the Stamper-Woodruff assay. Lastly, we performed HMVEC chemotaxis, and tube formation.
Results
Certolizumab pegol significantly blocked TNFα-induced HMVEC cell surface angiogenic E-selectin, vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 expression and angiogenic chemokine secretion (P < 0.05). We found that certolizumab pegol significantly inhibited TNFα-induced HL-60 cell adhesion to HMVECs (P < 0.05), and blocked HL-60 cell adhesion to RA synovial tissue vasculature (P < 0.05). TNFα also enhanced HMVEC chemotaxis compared with the negative control group (P < 0.05) and this chemotactic response was significantly reduced by certolizumab pegol (P < 0.05). Certolizumab pegol inhibited TNFα-induced HMVEC tube formation on Matrigel (P < 0.05).
Conclusion
Our data support the hypothesis that certolizumab pegol inhibits TNFα-dependent leukocyte adhesion and angiogenesis, probably via inhibition of angiogenic adhesion molecule expression and angiogenic chemokine secretion.
doi:10.1186/ar3812
PMCID: PMC3446462  PMID: 22534470
7.  Dysregulated expression of MIG/CXCL9, IP-10/CXCL10 and CXCL16 and their receptors in systemic sclerosis 
Introduction
Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is characterized by fibrosis and microvascular abnormalities including dysregulated angiogenesis. Chemokines, in addition to their chemoattractant properties, have the ability to modulate angiogenesis. Chemokines lacking the enzyme-linked receptor (ELR) motif, such as monokine induced by interferon-γ (IFN-γ) (MIG/CXCL9) and IFN-inducible protein 10 (IP-10/CXCL10), inhibit angiogenesis by binding CXCR3. In addition, CXCL16 promotes angiogenesis by binding its unique receptor CXCR6. In this study, we determined the expression of these chemokines and receptors in SSc skin and serum.
Methods
Immunohistology and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) were used to determine chemokine and chemokine receptor expression in the skin and serum, respectively, of SSc and normal patients. Endothelial cells (ECs) were isolated from SSc skin biopsies and chemokine and chemokine receptor expression was determined by quantitative PCR and immunofluorescence staining.
Results
Antiangiogenic IP-10/CXCL10 and MIG/CXCL9 were elevated in SSc serum and highly expressed in SSc skin. However, CXCR3, the receptor for these chemokines, was decreased on ECs in SSc vs. normal skin. CXCL16 was elevated in SSc serum and increased in SSc patients with early disease, pulmonary arterial hypertension, and those that died during the 36 months of the study. In addition, its receptor CXCR6 was overexpressed on ECs in SSc skin. At the mRNA and protein levels, CXCR3 was decreased while CXCR6 was increased on SSc ECs vs. human microvascular endothelial cells (HMVECs).
Conclusions
These results show that while the expression of MIG/CXCL9 and IP-10/CXCL10 are elevated in SSc serum, the expression of CXCR3 is downregulated on SSc dermal ECs. In contrast, CXCL16 and CXCR6 are elevated in SSc serum and on SSc dermal ECs, respectively. In all, these findings suggest angiogenic chemokine receptor expression is likely regulated in an effort to promote angiogenesis in SSc skin.
doi:10.1186/ar3242
PMCID: PMC3241362  PMID: 21303517
8.  Interleukin-18 as an in vivo mediator of monocyte recruitment in rodent models of rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2010;12(3):R118.
Introduction
The function of interleukin-18 (IL-18) was investigated in pertinent animal models of rodent rheumatoid arthritis (RA) to determine its proinflammatory and monocyte recruitment properties.
Methods
We used a modified Boyden chemotaxis system to examine monocyte recruitment to recombinant human (rhu) IL-18 in vitro. Monocyte recruitment to rhuIL-18 was then tested in vivo by using an RA synovial tissue (ST) severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mouse chimera. We defined monocyte-specific signal-transduction pathways induced by rhuIL-18 with Western blotting analysis and linked this to in vitro monocyte chemotactic activity. Finally, the ability of IL-18 to induce a cytokine cascade during acute joint inflammatory responses was examined by inducing wild-type (Wt) and IL-18 gene-knockout mice with zymosan-induced arthritis (ZIA).
Results
We found that intragraft injected rhuIL-18 was a robust monocyte recruitment factor to both human ST and regional (inguinal) murine lymph node (LN) tissue. IL-18 gene-knockout mice also showed pronounced reductions in joint inflammation during ZIA compared with Wt mice. Many proinflammatory cytokines were reduced in IL-18 gene-knockout mouse joint homogenates during ZIA, including macrophage inflammatory protein-3α (MIP-3α/CCL20), vascular endothelial cell growth factor (VEGF), and IL-17. Signal-transduction experiments revealed that IL-18 signals through p38 and ERK½ in monocytes, and that IL-18-mediated in vitro monocyte chemotaxis can be significantly inhibited by disruption of this pathway.
Conclusions
Our data suggest that IL-18 may be produced in acute inflammatory responses and support the notion that IL-18 may serve a hierarchic position for initiating joint inflammatory responses.
doi:10.1186/ar3055
PMCID: PMC2911912  PMID: 20565717
9.  Vasculogenesis in rheumatoid arthritis 
Decreased number and impaired functions of endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) leading to impaired vasculogenesis have been associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Defective vasculogenesis has also been implicated in premature atherosclerosis in RA. Recently, early-outgrowth monocytic and late-outgrowth hemangioblastic EPC subsets have been characterized. Hemangioblastic EPCs may exert increased numbers in active RA and may play a role in vascular repair underlying RA.
doi:10.1186/ar2943
PMCID: PMC2888181  PMID: 20346090
10.  Vascular involvement in rheumatic diseases: 'vascular rheumatology' 
The vasculature plays a crucial role in inflammation, angiogenesis, and atherosclerosis associated with the pathogenesis of inflammatory rheumatic diseases, hence the term 'vascular rheumatology'. The endothelium lining the blood vessels becomes activated during the inflammatory process, resulting in the production of several mediators, the expression of endothelial adhesion molecules, and increased vascular permeability (leakage). All of this enables the extravasation of inflammatory cells into the interstitial matrix. The endothelial adhesion and transendothelial migration of leukocytes is a well-regulated sequence of events that involves many adhesion molecules and chemokines. Primarily selectins, integrins, and members of the immunoglobulin family of adhesion receptors are involved in leukocyte 'tethering', 'rolling', activation, and transmigration. There is a perpetuation of angiogenesis, the formation of new capillaries from pre-existing vessels, as well as that of vasculogenesis, the generation of new blood vessels in arthritis and connective tissue diseases. Several soluble and cell-bound angiogenic mediators produced mainly by monocytes/macrophages and endothelial cells stimulate neovascularization. On the other hand, endogenous angiogenesis inhibitors and exogenously administered angiostatic compounds may downregulate the process of capillary formation. Rheumatoid arthritis as well as systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma, the antiphospholipid syndrome, and systemic vasculitides have been associated with accelerated atherosclerosis and high cardiovascular risk leading to increased mortality. Apart from traditional risk factors such as smoking, obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and diabetes, inflammatory risk factors, including C-reactive protein, homocysteine, folate deficiency, lipoprotein (a), anti-phospholipid antibodies, antibodies to oxidized low-density lipoprotein, and heat shock proteins, are all involved in atherosclerosis underlying inflammatory rheumatic diseases. Targeting of adhesion molecules, chemokines, and angiogenesis by administering nonspecific immunosuppressive drugs as well as monoclonal antibodies or small molecular compounds inhibiting the action of a single mediator may control inflammation and prevent tissue destruction. Vasoprotective agents may help to prevent premature atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.
doi:10.1186/ar2515
PMCID: PMC2592799  PMID: 18947376
11.  Differential expression of the FAK family kinases in rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis synovial tissues 
The focal adhesion kinase (FAK) family kinases, including FAK and proline-rich kinase 2 (Pyk)2, are the predominant mediators of integrin αvβ3 signaling events that play an important role in cell adhesion, osteoclast pathology, and angiogenesis, all processes important in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Using immunohistochemical and western blot analysis, we studied the distribution of phospho (p)FAK, pPyk2, pSrc, pPaxillin and pPLCγ in the synovial tissue (ST) from patients with RA, osteoarthritis (OA) and normal donors (NDs) as well as in RA ST fibroblasts and peripheral blood differentiated macrophages (PB MΦs) treated with tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) or interleukin-1β (IL1β). RA and OA STs showed a greater percentage of pFAK on lining cells and MΦs compared with ND ST. RA ST fibroblasts expressed pFAK at baseline, which increased with TNFα or IL1β stimulation. Pyk2 and Src were phosphorylated more on RA versus OA and ND lining cells and MΦs. pPyk2 was expressed on RA ST fibrobasts but not in MΦs at baseline, however it was upregulated upon TNFα or IL1β activation in both cell types. pSrc was expressed in RA ST fibroblasts and MΦs at baseline and was further increased by TNFα or IL1β stimulation. pPaxillin and pPLCγ were upregulated in RA versus OA and ND lining cells and sublining MΦs. Activation of the FAK family signaling cascade on RA and OA lining cells may be responsible for cell adhesion and migration into the diseased STs. Therapies targeting this novel signaling pathway may be beneficial in RA.
doi:10.1186/ar2318
PMCID: PMC2212559  PMID: 17963503
12.  Vasculopathy and disordered angiogenesis in selected rheumatic diseases: rheumatoid arthritis and systemic sclerosis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2007;9(Suppl 2):S3.
Angiogenesis is important in the pathogenesis of systemic inflammatory rheumatic diseases, a family of related disorders that includes rheumatoid arthritis and systemic sclerosis. Rheumatoid arthritis is the rheumatic disease in which the role of angiogenesis has been studied most extensively. However, whereas rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by excessive angiogenesis, the situation is not as clear cut in other rheumatic diseases. For example, systemic sclerosis is characterized by reduced capillary density with insufficient angiogenic responses. Results with angiogenesis inhibitors are controversial, and there is – in parallel – a wide range of upregulated angiogenic factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor. Dysregulation of angiogenesis in systemic sclerosis is accompanied by other pathogenic processes, including fibrosis, autoimmunity and vasculopathy. Animal models with at least partial features of the vasculopathy observed in systemic sclerosis include wound healing models, graft versus host disease models and, in particular, the University of California at Davis line 200 chicken model of systemic sclerosis.
doi:10.1186/ar2187
PMCID: PMC2072889  PMID: 17767741
13.  Macrophage migration inhibitory factor: a mediator of matrix metalloproteinase-2 production in rheumatoid arthritis 
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by destruction of bone and cartilage, which is mediated, in part, by synovial fibroblasts. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are a large family of proteolytic enzymes responsible for matrix degradation. Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) is a cytokine that induces the production of a large number of proinflammatory molecules and has an important role in the pathogenesis of RA by promoting inflammation and angiogenesis.
In the present study, we determined the role of MIF in RA synovial fibroblast MMP production and the underlying signaling mechanisms. We found that MIF induces RA synovial fibroblast MMP-2 expression in a time-dependent and concentration-dependent manner. To elucidate the role of MIF in MMP-2 production, we produced zymosan-induced arthritis (ZIA) in MIF gene-deficient and wild-type mice. We found that MMP-2 protein levels were significantly decreased in MIF gene-deficient compared with wild-type mice joint homogenates. The expression of MMP-2 in ZIA was evaluated by immunohistochemistry (IHC). IHC revealed that MMP-2 is highly expressed in wild-type compared with MIF gene-deficient mice ZIA joints. Interestingly, synovial lining cells, endothelial cells, and sublining nonlymphoid mononuclear cells expressed MMP-2 in the ZIA synovium. Consistent with these results, in methylated BSA (mBSA) antigen-induced arthritis (AIA), a model of RA, enhanced MMP-2 expression was also observed in wild-type compared with MIF gene-deficient mice joints. To elucidate the signaling mechanisms in MIF-induced MMP-2 upregulation, RA synovial fibroblasts were stimulated with MIF in the presence of signaling inhibitors. We found that MIF-induced RA synovial fibroblast MMP-2 upregulation required the protein kinase C (PKC), c-jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), and Src signaling pathways. We studied the expression of MMP-2 in the presence of PKC isoform-specific inhibitors and found that the PKCδ inhibitor rottlerin inhibits MIF-induced RA synovial fibroblast MMP-2 production. Consistent with these results, MIF induced phosphorylation of JNK, PKCδ, and c-jun. These results indicate a potential novel role for MIF in tissue destruction in RA.
doi:10.1186/ar2021
PMCID: PMC1779381  PMID: 16872482
14.  Accelerated development of arthritis in mice lacking endothelial selectins 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2005;7(5):R959-R970.
The selectins, along with very late antigen-4 and CD44, have been implicated in mediating leukocyte rolling interactions that lead to joint recruitment and inflammation during the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis. Previously, we showed that P-selectin deficiency in mice resulted in accelerated onset of joint inflammation in the murine collagen-immunized arthritis model. Here, we report that mice deficient either in E-selectin or in E-selectin and P-selectin (E/P-selectin mutant) also exhibit accelerated development of arthritis compared with wild type mice in the CIA model, suggesting that these adhesion molecules perform overlapping functions in regulating joint disease. Analyses of cytokine and chemokine expression in joint tissue from E/P-selectin mutant mice before the onset of joint swelling revealed significantly higher joint levels of macrophage inflammatory protein-1α and IL-1β compared to wild-type mice. IL-1β remained significantly increased in E/P-selectin mutant joint tissue during the early and chronic phases of arthritis. Overall, these data illustrate the novel finding that E-selectin and P-selectin expression can significantly influence cytokine and chemokine production in joint tissue, and suggest that these adhesion molecules play important regulatory roles in the development of arthritis in E/P-selectin mutant mice.
doi:10.1186/ar1770
PMCID: PMC1257424  PMID: 16207337
15.  Local IL-13 gene transfer prior to immune-complex arthritis inhibits chondrocyte death and matrix-metalloproteinase-mediated cartilage matrix degradation despite enhanced joint inflammation 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2005;7(2):R392-R401.
During immune-complex-mediated arthritis (ICA), severe cartilage destruction is mediated by Fcγ receptors (FcγRs) (mainly FcγRI), cytokines (e.g. IL-1), and enzymes (matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs)). IL-13, a T helper 2 (Th2) cytokine abundantly found in synovial fluid of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, has been shown to reduce joint inflammation and bone destruction during experimental arthritis. However, the effect on severe cartilage destruction has not been studied in detail. We have now investigated the role of IL-13 in chondrocyte death and MMP-mediated cartilage damage during ICA. IL-13 was locally overexpressed in knee joints after injection of an adenovirus encoding IL-13 (AxCAhIL-13), 1 day before the onset of arthritis; injection of AxCANI (an empty adenoviral construct) was used as a control. IL-13 significantly increased the amount of inflammatory cells in the synovial lining and the joint cavity, by 30% to 60% at day 3 after the onset of ICA. Despite the enhanced inflammatory response, chondrocyte death was diminished by two-thirds at days 3 and 7. The mRNA level of FcγRI, a receptor shown to be crucial in the induction of chondrocyte death, was significantly down-regulated in synovium. Furthermore, MMP-mediated cartilage damage, measured as neoepitope (VDIPEN) expression using immunolocalization, was halved. In contrast, mRNA levels of MMP-3, -9, -12, and -13 were significantly higher and IL-1 protein, which induces production of latent MMPs, was increased fivefold by IL-13. This study demonstrates that IL-13 overexpression during ICA diminished both chondrocyte death and MMP-mediated VDIPEN expression, even though joint inflammation was enhanced.
doi:10.1186/ar1502
PMCID: PMC1065337  PMID: 15743487
cartilage destruction; experimental arthritis; interleukin-13; Fcγ receptors; MMPs

Results 1-15 (15)