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2.  Usurped SLRPs: novel arthritis biomarkers exposed by catabolism of small leucine-rich proteoglycans? 
Proteolytic degradation of articular cartilage macromolecules, including the large aggregating cartilage proteoglycan (aggrecan) and small leucine-rich proteoglycans (SLRPs), is a prominent pathophysiological feature of arthritic diseases such as osteoarthritis (OA). Molecular profiling and monitoring of soluble/circulating proteoglycan catabolites that may be released from the cartilage matrix therefore represents an attractive strategy for evaluating OA disease progression and intervention. The recent identification of discrete metalloproteinase-sensitive SLRP cleavage sites, and complementary neoepitope-bearing SLRP catabolites, extends decisive insight into the functional regulation of extracellular matrix integrity, and proffers poignant leads to assist in disclosing and appraising applicable biomarkers of cartilage degeneration during arthritis.
PMCID: PMC1526605  PMID: 16563183
7.  Targeting B cells in systemic lupus erythematosus: not just déjà vu all over again 
Epratuzumab (anti-CD22) is a humanized monoclonal antibody that recognizes a pan-B-cell marker. It potentially downregulates B cell activity through negative signaling, as well as depleting B cells moderately. The uncontrolled series discussed by Dörner and colleagues in this issue of Arthritis Research & Therapy suggests that epratuzumab may be safe and efficacious for systemic lupus erythematosus. A randomized controlled trial is currently active to test this possibility.
PMCID: PMC1526641  PMID: 16732895
8.  Cyclooxygenases and prostaglandin E2 receptors in growth plate chondrocytes in vitro and in situ – prostaglandin E2 dependent proliferation of growth plate chondrocytes 
Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) plays an important role in bone development and metabolism. To interfere therapeutically in the PGE2 pathway, however, knowledge about the involved enzymes (cyclooxygenases) and receptors (PGE2 receptors) is essential. We therefore examined the production of PGE2 in cultured growth plate chondrocytes in vitro and the effects of exogenously added PGE2 on cell proliferation. Furthermore, we analysed the expression and spatial distribution of cyclooxygenase (COX)-1 and COX-2 and PGE2 receptor types EP1, EP2, EP3 and EP4 in the growth plate in situ and in vitro. PGE2 synthesis was determined by mass spectrometry, cell proliferation by DNA [3H]-thymidine incorporation, mRNA expression of cyclooxygenases and EP receptors by RT-PCR on cultured cells and in homogenized growth plates. To determine cellular expression, frozen sections of rat tibial growth plate and primary chondrocyte cultures were stained using immunohistochemistry with polyclonal antibodies directed towards COX-1, COX-2, EP1, EP2, EP3, and EP4. Cultured growth plate chondrocytes transiently secreted PGE2 into the culture medium. Although both enzymes were expressed in chondrocytes in vitro and in vivo, it appears that mainly COX-2 contributed to PGE2-dependent proliferation. Exogenously added PGE2 stimulated DNA synthesis in a dose-dependent fashion and gave a bell-shaped curve with a maximum at 10-8 M. The EP1/EP3 specific agonist sulprostone and the EP1-selective agonist ONO-D1-004 increased DNA synthesis. The effect of PGE2 was suppressed by ONO-8711. The expression of EP1, EP2, EP3, and EP4 receptors in situ and in vitro was observed; EP2 was homogenously expressed in all zones of the growth plate in situ, whereas EP1 expression was inhomogenous, with spared cells in the reserve zone. In cultured cells these four receptors were expressed in a subset of cells only. The most intense staining for the EP1 receptor was found in polygonal cells surrounded by matrix. Expression of receptor protein for EP3 and EP4 was observed also in rat growth plates. In cultured chrondrocytes, however, only weak expression of EP3 and EP4 receptor was detected. We suggest that in growth plate chondrocytes, COX-2 is responsible for PGE2 release, which stimulates cell proliferation via the EP1 receptor.
PMCID: PMC1526634  PMID: 16646980
9.  The validity of a rheumatoid arthritis medical records-based index of severity compared with the DAS28 
Outcome measures play an extremely important role in clinical trials and observational research. Outcome measures for rheumatoid arthritis cover a whole array of domains, ranging from measures describing the inflammatory process to measures describing the ultimate consequences of long-term disease, such as joint damage, physical function and quality of life. There is a scientific need to be able to quantify what is called the 'severity of rheumatoid arthritis', so that patients with rheumatoid arthritis can be clustered according to their propensity to develop an unfavourable outcome. It is a challenge to find an appropriate measure for severity. One attempt has been the development of the Rheumatoid Arthritis Medical Record-Based Index of Severity. This commentary elaborates on how such a measure of severity should be validated to determine whether it is appropriate for practical use.
PMCID: PMC1526622  PMID: 16677409
10.  The role of HIF-1α in maintaining cartilage homeostasis and during the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis 
As a consequence of the avascular nature of cartilage the microenvironment in which chondrocytes must exist is characterized by hostile conditions, most prominently very low levels of oxygen (hypoxia). In recent years, a vast number of papers reporting on the role of hypoxia in cartilage development and disease has been published. It is well established today that the principal mediator of cellular adaptation to hypoxia, the transcription factor hypoxia inducible factor (HIF)-1, is of pivotal importance for survival and growth arrest of chondrocytes during cartilage development as well as energy generation and matrix synthesis of chondrocytes in healthy as well as osteoarthritic cartilage. With this commentary we aim to briefly discuss the recently published literature in this field.
PMCID: PMC1526557  PMID: 16542470
11.  HLA-DRB1 genes and extraarticular rheumatoid arthritis 
The factors that trigger the development of extraarticular features of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are still unknown. HLA-DR alleles such as HLA-DR4 and HLA-DR1 are associated with the risk to develop RA. A large scale study from Sweden and the Mayo Clinic suggests that HLA-DR4, but not HLA-DR1, is associated with the risk to develop extraarticular RA.
PMCID: PMC1526581  PMID: 16542468
12.  Reactive oxygen species induce expression of vascular endothelial growth factor in chondrocytes and human articular cartilage explants 
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) promotes cartilage-degrading pathways, and there is evidence for the involvement of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in cartilage degeneration. However, a relationship between ROS and VEGF has not been reported. Here, we investigate whether the expression of VEGF is modulated by ROS.
Aspirates of synovial fluid from patients with osteoarthritis (OA) were examined for intra-articular VEGF using ELISA. Immortalized C28/I2 chondrocytes and human knee cartilage explants were exposed to phorbol myristate acetate (PMA; 0–20 μg/ml), which is a ROS inducer, or 3-morpholino-sydnonimine hydrochloride (SIN-1; 0–20 μM), which is a ROS donor. The levels of VEGF protein and nitric oxide (NO) production were determined in the medium supernatant, using ELISA and Griess reagent, respectively. Gene expression of VEGF-121 and VEGF-165 was determined by splice variant RT-PCR. Expression of VEGF and VEGF receptors (VEGFR-1 and VEGFR-2) was quantified by real-time RT-PCR.
Synovial fluid from OA patients revealed markedly elevated levels of VEGF. Common RT-PCR revealed that the splice variants were present in both immortalized chondrocytes and cartilage discs. In immortalized chondrocytes, stimulation with PMA or SIN-1 caused increases in the levels of VEGF, VEGFR-1 and VEGFR-2 mRNA expression. Cartilage explants produced similar results, but VEGFR-1 was only detectable after stimulation with SIN-1. Stimulation with PMA or SIN-1 resulted in a dose-dependent upregulation of the VEGF protein (as determined using ELISA) and an increase in the level of NO in the medium.
Our findings indicate ROS-mediated induction of VEGF and VEGF receptors in chondrocytes and cartilage explants. These results demonstrate a relationship between ROS and VEGF as multiplex mediators in articular cartilage degeneration.
PMCID: PMC1794535  PMID: 17187682
13.  Differential gene expression of bone anabolic factors and trabecular bone architectural changes in the proximal femoral shaft of primary hip osteoarthritis patients 
Previous studies have shown a generalised increase in bone mass in patients with osteoarthritis (OA). Using molecular histomorphometry, this study examined the in vivo expression of mRNA encoding bone anabolic factors and collagen type I genes (COL1A1, COL1A2) in human OA and non-OA bone. Bone samples were obtained from the intertrochanteric (IT) region of the proximal femur, a skeletal site distal to the active site of disease, from individuals with hip OA at joint replacement surgery and from autopsy controls. Semi-quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction analysis revealed elevated mRNA expression levels of alkaline phosphatase (p < 0.002), osteocalcin (OCN) (p < 0.0001), osteopontin (p < 0.05), COL1A1 (p < 0.0001), and COL1A2 (p < 0.002) in OA bone compared to control, suggesting possible increases in osteoblastic biosynthetic activity and/or bone turnover at the IT region in OA. Interestingly, the ratio of COL1A1/COL1A2 mRNA was almost twofold greater in OA bone compared to control (p < 0.001), suggesting the potential presence of collagen type I homotrimer at the distal site. Insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I, IGF-II, and transforming growth factor-β1 mRNA levels were similar between OA and control bone. Bone histomorphometric analysis indicated that OA IT bone had increased surface density of bone (p < 0.0003), increased trabecular number (Tb.N) (p < 0.0003), and decreased trabecular separation (Tb.Sp) (p < 0.0001) compared to control bone. When the molecular and histomorphometric data were plotted, positive associations were observed in the controls for OCN/glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) versus bone tissue volume (r = 0.82, p < 0.0007) and OCN/GAPDH versus Tb.N (r = 0.56, p < 0.05) and a negative association was observed for OCN/GAPDH versus Tb.Sp (r = -0.64, p < 0.02). These relationships were not evident in trabecular bone from patients with OA, suggesting that bone regulatory processes leading to particular trabecular structures may be altered in this disease. The finding of differential gene expression, as well as architectural changes and differences in molecular histomorphometric associations between OA and controls, at a skeletal site distal to the active site of joint degeneration supports the concept of generalised involvement of bone in the pathogenesis of OA.
PMCID: PMC1794534  PMID: 17187661
14.  The role of synovial macrophages and macrophage-produced cytokines in driving aggrecanases, matrix metalloproteinases, and other destructive and inflammatory responses in osteoarthritis 
There is an increasing body of evidence that synovitis plays a role in the progression of osteoarthritis and that overproduction of cytokines and growth factors from the inflamed synovium can influence the production of degradative enzymes and the destruction of cartilage. In this study, we investigate the role of synovial macrophages and their main proinflammatory cytokines, interleukin (IL)-1 and tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), in driving osteoarthritis synovitis and influencing the production of other pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines, production of matrix metalloproteinases, and expression of aggrecanases in the osteoarthritis synovium. We established a model of cultures of synovial cells from digested osteoarthritis synovium derived from patients undergoing knee or hip arthroplasties. By means of anti-CD14-conjugated magnetic beads, specific depletion of osteoarthritis synovial macrophages from these cultures could be achieved. The CD14+-depleted cultures no longer produced significant amounts of macrophage-derived cytokines like IL-1 and TNF-α. Interestingly, there was also significant downregulation of several cytokines, such as IL-6 and IL-8 (p < 0.001) and matrix metalloproteinases 1 and 3 (p < 0.01), produced chiefly by synovial fibroblasts. To investigate the mechanisms involved, we went on to use specific downregulation of IL-1 and/or TNF-α in these osteoarthritis cultures of synovial cells. The results indicated that neutralisation of both IL-1 and TNF-α was needed to achieve a degree of cytokine (IL-6, IL-8, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1) and matrix metalloproteinase (1, 3, 9, and 13) inhibition, as assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), similar to that observed in CD14+-depleted cultures. Another interesting observation was that in these osteoarthritis cultures of synovial cells, IL-1β production was independent of TNF-α, in contrast to the situation in rheumatoid arthritis. Using RT-PCR, we also demonstrated that whereas the ADAMTS4 (a disintegrin and metalloprotease with thrombospondin motifs 4) aggrecanase was driven mainly by TNF-α, ADAMTS5 was not affected by neutralisation of IL-1 and/or TNF-α. These results suggest that, in the osteoarthritis synovium, both inflammatory and destructive responses are dependent largely on macrophages and that these effects are cytokine-driven through a combination of IL-1 and TNF-α.
PMCID: PMC1794533  PMID: 17177994
15.  Utility of the Framingham risk score to predict the presence of coronary atherosclerosis in patients with rheumatoid arthritis 
The prevalence of ischemic heart disease and atherosclerosis is increased in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In the general population, but not in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, the Framingham risk score identifies patients at increased cardiovascular risk and helps determine the need for preventive interventions. We examined the hypothesis that the Framingham score is increased and associated with coronary-artery atherosclerosis in patients with RA. The Framingham score and the 10-year cardiovascular risk were compared among 155 patients with RA (89 with early disease, 66 with long-standing disease) and 85 control subjects. The presence of coronary-artery calcification was determined by electron-beam computed tomography. The Framingham score was compared in patients with RA and control subjects, and the association between the risk score and coronary-artery calcification was examined in patients. Patients with long-standing RA had a higher Framingham score (14 [11 to 18]) (median [interquartile range]) compared to patients with early RA (11 [8 to 14]) or control subjects (12 [7 to 14], P < 0.001). This remained significant after adjustment for age and gender (P = 0.015). Seventy-six patients with RA had coronary calcification; their Framingham risk score was higher (14 [12 to 17]) than that of 79 patients without calcification (10 [5 to 14]) (P < 0.001). Furthermore, a higher Framingham score was associated with a higher calcium score (odds ratio [OR] = 1.20, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.12 to 1.29, P < 0.001), and the association remained significant after adjustment for age and gender (OR = 1.15, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.29, P = 0.03). In conclusion, a higher Framingham risk score is independently associated with the presence of coronary calcification in patients with RA.
PMCID: PMC1794532  PMID: 17169159
16.  HLA-C locus alleles may modulate the clinical expression of psoriatic arthritis 
The aim of the present study was to evaluate the relative contribution of human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-C locus alleles in determining the risk and the clinical expression of psoriatic arthritis (PsA). One hundred PsA patients were randomly selected and grouped into three disease subsets: oligoarthritis (n = 40), polyarthritis (n = 25) and spondylitis (n = 35). The HLA-C locus profile of this cohort was studied by methods based on molecular biology and was compared with that of 45 patients with psoriasis vulgaris and 177 healthy blood donors from the same ethnic origin. HLA-Cw*0602 was found associated with both psoriasis (odds ratio (OR) 6.2; 95% confidence interval (CI) 3.1 to 12.5; p < 0.0001) and PsA (OR 6.2; 95% CI 3.6 to 10.8; p < 0.0001); however, this allele was equally found among the PsA subsets. HLA-Cw6-positive patients showed a longer psoriasis-arthritis latency period (p = 0.012). HLA-Cw*0701 was found under-represented in PsA in comparison with controls (OR 0.5; 95% CI 0.3 to 0.9; p = 0.04), as was HLA-Cw*0802 (OR 0.3; 95% CI 0.08 to 1; p = 0.05). A positive association was found between psoriatic spondylitis and HLA-Cw*0702 (OR 5.0; 95% CI 1.4 to 25; p = 0.01). HLA-Cw*0602 seems to confer a general risk for psoriasis, but the presence of other HLA-C locus alleles may explain an additional arthritogenic risk. HLA-C alleles may modulate some aspects of the clinical expression of PsA, but these findings need confirmation.
PMCID: PMC1794531  PMID: 17166285
17.  Deficiency of functional mannose-binding lectin is not associated with infections in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus 
Infection imposes a serious burden on patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The increased infection rate in SLE patients has been attributed in part to defects of immune defence. Recently, the lectin pathway of complement activation has also been suggested to play a role in the occurrence of infections in SLE. In previous studies, SLE patients homozygous for mannose-binding lectin (MBL) variant alleles were at an increased risk of acquiring serious infections in comparison with patients who were heterozygous or homozygous for the normal allele. This association suggests a correlation between functional MBL level and occurrence of infections in SLE patients. We therefore investigated the biological activity of MBL and its relationship with the occurrence of infections in patients with SLE. Demographic and clinical data were collected in 103 patients with SLE. Functional MBL serum levels and MBL-induced C4 deposition were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay using mannan as coat and an MBL- or C4b-specific monoclonal antibody. The complete MBL-dependent pathway activity was determined by using an assay that measures the complete MBL pathway activity in serum, starting with binding of MBL to mannan, and was detected with a specific monoclonal antibody against C5b-9. Charts were systematically reviewed to obtain information on documented infections since diagnosis of SLE. Major infections were defined as infections requiring hospital admission and intravenous administration of antibiotics. In total, 115 infections since diagnosis of lupus, including 42 major infections, were documented in the 103 SLE patients (mean age 41 ± 13 years, mean disease duration 7 ± 4 years). The percentage of SLE patients with severe MBL deficiency was similar to that in 100 healthy controls: 13% versus 14%, respectively. Although deposition of C4 to mannan and MBL pathway activity were reduced in 21% and 43% of 103 SLE patients, respectively, neither functional MBL serum levels nor MBL pathway activity was associated with infections or major infections in regression analyses. In conclusion, SLE patients frequently suffer from infections, but deficiency of functional MBL does not confer additional risk.
PMCID: PMC1794530  PMID: 17166254
18.  Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised trials and cohort studies of mycophenolate mofetil in lupus nephritis 
Mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) is an immunosuppressant drug being used for induction and maintenance of remission of lupus nephritis in systemic lupus erythematosus. Evidence about its use was sought from full publications and abstracts of randomised trials and cohort studies by using a variety of search strategies. Efficacy and adverse event outcomes were sought. Five randomised trials enrolled patients with World Health Organization (WHO) class III, IV, or V (mostly IV) lupus nephritis, predominantly comparing MMF (1 to 3 g daily) with cyclophosphamide and steroid. Complete response and complete or partial response was significantly more frequent with MMF than with cyclophosphamide, with numbers needed to treat of 8 (95% confidence interval 4.3 to 60) to induce one additional complete or partial response, with wide confidence intervals. Death was reported less frequently with MMF (0.7%, 1 death in 152 patients) than with cyclophosphamide (7.8%, 12 deaths in 154 patients), with a number needed to treat to prevent (NNTp) one death of 14 (8 to 48). Hospital admission was also lower with MMF (1.7% versus 15%; NNTp 7.4 [4.8 to 16]). Serious infections, leucopaenia, amenorrhoea, and hair loss were all significantly less frequent with MMF than with cyclophosphamide, but diarrhoea was significantly more common with MMF. Ten of 18 cohort studies enrolled only patients with lupus nephritis (author-defined or WHO class III to V). Seven of these 10 reported that complete or partial response with MMF (mostly 1 or 2 g daily) with steroid occurred in 121/151 (80%) and that treatment failure or no response occurred in 30/151 (20%). Adverse events were generally similar in cohort studies with and without only patients with lupus nephritis. In all 18 cohorts, gastrointestinal adverse events (diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting) occurred in 30%, infection in 23%, and serious infection in 4.3%. Adverse event discontinuations occurred in 14% and lack of efficacy occurred in 10%. There was a single death with MMF, a mortality rate over the course of 1 year of approximately 0.2%. The results form a basis on which to plan future studies and provide a guide for the use of MMF in lupus nephritis until results of larger studies are available. At least one such study is under way.
PMCID: PMC1794528  PMID: 17163990
19.  The shunt from the cyclooxygenase to lipoxygenase pathway in human osteoarthritic subchondral osteoblasts is linked with a variable expression of the 5-lipoxygenase-activating protein 
Osteoarthritis (OA) is characterized by articular cartilage degradation and hypertrophic bone changes with osteophyte formation and abnormal bone remodeling. Two groups of OA patients were identified via the production of variable and opposite levels of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) or leukotriene B4 (LTB4) by subchondral osteoblasts, PGE2 levels discriminating between low and high subgroups. We studied whether the expression of 5-lipoxygenase (5-LO) or 5-LO-activating protein (FLAP) is responsible for the shunt from prostaglandins to leukotrienes. FLAP mRNA levels varied in low and high OA groups compared with normal, whereas mRNA levels of 5-LO were similar in all osteoblasts. Selective inhibition of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) with NS-398-stimulated FLAP expression in the high OA osteoblasts subgroup, whereas it was without effect in the low OA osteoblasts subgroup. The addition of PGE2 to the low OA osteoblasts subgroup decreased FLAP expression but failed to affect it in the high OA osteoblasts subgroup. LTB4 levels in OA osteoblasts were stimulated about twofold by 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25(OH)2D3) plus transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β), a situation corresponding to their effect on FLAP mRNA levels. Treatments with 1,25(OH)2D3 and TGF-β also modulated PGE2 production. TGF-β stimulated PGE2 production in both OA osteoblast groups, whereas 1,25(OH)2D3 alone had a limited effect but decreased the effect of TGF-β in the low OA osteoblasts subgroup. This modulation of PGE2 production was mirrored by the synthesis of COX-2. IL-18 levels were only slightly increased in a subgroup of OA osteoblasts compared with normal; however, no relationship was observed overall between IL-18 and PGE2 levels in normal and OA osteoblasts. These results suggest that the shunt from the production of PGE2 to LTB4 is through regulation of the expression of FLAP, not 5-LO, in OA osteoblasts. The expression of FLAP in OA osteoblasts is also modulated differently by 1,25(OH)2D3 and TGF-β depending on their endogenous low and high PGE2 levels.
PMCID: PMC1794527  PMID: 17156456
20.  Antiphospholipid reactivity against cardiolipin metabolites occurring during endothelial cell apoptosis 
We have recently shown that cardiolipin (CL) and its metabolites move from mitochondria to other cellular membranes during death receptor-mediated apoptosis. In this study, we investigate the immunoreactivity to CL derivatives occurring during endothelial apoptosis in patients with antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). We compared the serum immunoreactivity to CL with that of its derivatives monolysocardiolipin (MCL), dilysocardiolipin (DCL), and hydrocardiolipin (HCL) by means of both enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and thin-layer chromatography (TLC) immunostaining. In addition, we investigated the composition of phospholipid extracts from the plasma membrane of apoptotic endothelial cells and the binding of patients' sera to the surface of the same cells by using high-performance TLC and immunofluorescence analysis. The average reactivity to MCL was comparable with that of CL and significantly higher than that for DCL and HCL in patients studied, both in the presence or in the absence of beta2-glycoprotein I. Of relevance for the pathogenic role of these autoantibodies, immunoglobulin G from patients' sera showed an increased focal reactivity with the plasma membrane of endothelial cells undergoing apoptosis. Interestingly, the phospholipid analysis of these light membrane fractions showed an accumulation of both CL and MCL. Our results demonstrated that a critical number of acyl chains in CL derivatives is important for the binding of antiphospholipid antibodies and that MCL is an antigenic target with immunoreactivity comparable with CL in APS and SLE. Our finding also suggests a link between apoptotic perturbation of CL metabolism and the production of these antibodies.
PMCID: PMC1794526  PMID: 17150088
21.  Arthritis and pain. Psychosocial aspects in the management of arthritis pain 
The purpose of this review is to summarize psychosocial factors associated with arthritis pain and highlight recent evidence for psychosocial approaches to managing arthritis pain. By definition, psychosocial factors refer to two dimensions of experience: the psychological (cognitive, affective) and social (interacting with others, engaging in life activities). Psychosocial factors influence the perception of pain and the presence of pain influences psychological well-being and social participation. After discussing the impact of arthritis pain on participation in work, family life, and leisure, evidence for psychosocial interventions is summarized, emphasizing reviews and studies published from January 2000 to August 2006.
PMCID: PMC1794518  PMID: 17169138
22.  What is MRI bone oedema in rheumatoid arthritis and why does it matter? 
MRI bone oedema occurs in various forms of inflammatory and non-inflammatory arthritis and probably represents a cellular infiltrate within bone. It is common in early rheumatoid arthritis and is associated with erosive progression and poor functional outcome. Histopathological studies suggest that a cellular infiltrate comprising lymphocytes and osteoclasts may be detected in subchondral bone and could mediate the development of erosions from the marrow towards the joint surface. There is emerging evidence from animal models that such an infiltrate corresponds with MRI bone oedema, pointing towards the bone marrow as a site for important pathology driving joint damage in rheumatoid arthritis.
PMCID: PMC1794510  PMID: 17169137
23.  Effect of infliximab on mRNA expression profiles in synovial tissue of rheumatoid arthritis patients 
We examined the gene expression profiles in arthroscopic biopsies retrieved from 10 rheumatoid arthritis patients before and after anti-TNF treatment with infliximab to investigate whether such profiles can be used to predict responses to the therapy, and to study effects of the therapy on the profiles. Responses to treatment were assessed using European League Against Rheumatism response criteria. Three patients were found to be good responders, five patients to be moderate responders and two patients to be nonresponders. The TNF-α status of the biopsies from each of the patients before treatment was also investigated immunohistochemically, and it was detected in biopsies from four of the patients, including all three of the good responders. The gene expression data demonstrate that all patients had unique gene expression signatures, with low intrapatient variability between biopsies. The data also revealed significant differences between the good responding and nonresponding patients (279 differentially expressed genes were detected, with a false discovery rate < 0.025). Among the identified genes we found that MMP-3 was significantly upregulated in good responders (log2 fold change, 2.95) compared with nonresponders, providing further support for the potential of MMP-3 as a marker for good responses to therapy. An even more extensive list of 685 significantly differentially expressed genes was found between patients in whom TNF-α was found and nonresponders, indicating that TNF-α could be an important biomarker for successful infliximab treatment. Significant differences were also observed between biopsies taken before and after anti-TNF treatment, including 115 differentially expressed genes in the good responding group. Interestingly, the effect was even stronger in the group in which TNF-α was immunohistochemically detected before therapy. Here, 1,058 genes were differentially expressed, including many that were novel in this context (for example, CXCL3 and CXCL14). Subsequent Gene Ontology analysis revealed that several 'themes' were significantly over-represented that are known to be affected by anti-TNF treatment in inflammatory tissue; for example, immune response (GO:0006955), cell communication (GO:0007154), signal transduction (GO:0007165) and chemotaxis (GO:0006935). No genes reached statistical significance in the moderately responding or nonresponding groups. In conclusion, this pilot study suggests that further investigation is warranted on the usefulness of gene expression profiling of synovial tissue to predict and monitor the outcome of rheumatoid arthritis therapies.
PMCID: PMC1794525  PMID: 17134501
24.  Novel self-epitopes derived from aggrecan, fibrillin, and matrix metalloproteinase-3 drive distinct autoreactive T-cell responses in juvenile idiopathic arthritis and in health 
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is a heterogeneous autoimmune disease characterized by chronic joint inflammation. Knowing which antigens drive the autoreactive T-cell response in JIA is crucial for the understanding of disease pathogenesis and additionally may provide targets for antigen-specific immune therapy. In this study, we tested 9 self-peptides derived from joint-related autoantigens for T-cell recognition (T-cell proliferative responses and cytokine production) in 36 JIA patients and 15 healthy controls. Positive T-cell proliferative responses (stimulation index ≥2) to one or more peptides were detected in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of 69% of JIA patients irrespective of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genotype. The peptides derived from aggrecan, fibrillin, and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-3 yielded the highest frequency of T-cell proliferative responses in JIA patients. In both the oligoarticular and polyarticular subtypes of JIA, the aggrecan peptide induced T-cell proliferative responses that were inversely related with disease duration. The fibrillin peptide, to our knowledge, is the first identified autoantigen that is primarily recognized in polyarticular JIA patients. Finally, the epitope derived from MMP-3 elicited immune responses in both subtypes of JIA and in healthy controls. Cytokine production in short-term peptide-specific T-cell lines revealed production of interferon-γ (aggrecan/MMP-3) and interleukin (IL)-17 (aggrecan) and inhibition of IL-10 production (aggrecan). Here, we have identified a triplet of self-epitopes, each with distinct patterns of T-cell recognition in JIA patients. Additional experiments need to be performed to explore their qualities and role in disease pathogenesis in further detail.
PMCID: PMC1794523  PMID: 17129378
25.  Abnormal insulin-like growth factor 1 signaling in human osteoarthritic subchondral bone osteoblasts 
Insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1 is a key factor in bone homeostasis and could be involved in bone tissue sclerosis as observed in osteoarthritis (OA). Here, we compare the key signaling pathways triggered in response to IGF-1 stimulation between normal and OA osteoblasts (Obs). Primary Obs were prepared from the subchondral bone of tibial plateaus of OA patients undergoing knee replacement or from normal individuals at autopsy. Phenotypic characterization of Obs was evaluated with alkaline phosphatase and osteocalcin release. The effect of IGF-1 on cell proliferation, alkaline phosphatase and collagen synthesis was evaluated in the presence or not of 50 ng/ml IGF-1, whereas signaling was studied with proteins separated by SDS-PAGE before western blot analysis. We also used immunoprecipitation followed by western blot analysis to detect interactions between key IGF-1 signaling elements. IGF-1 receptor (IGF-1R), Shc, Grb2, insulin receptor substrate (IRS)-1, and p42/44 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) levels were similar in normal and OA Obs in the presence or absence of IGF-1. After IGF-1 stimulation, the phosphorylation of IGF-1R in normal and OA Obs was similar; however, the phosphorylation of IRS-1 was reduced in OA Ob. In addition, the PI3K pathway was activated similarly in normal and OA Obs while that for p42/44 MAPK was higher in OA Obs compared to normal. p42/44 MAPK can be triggered via an IRS-1/Syp or Grb2/Shc interaction. Interestingly, Syp was poorly phosphorylated under basal conditions in normal Obs and was rapidly phosphorylated upon IGF-1 stimulation, yet Syp showed a poor interaction with IRS-1. In contrast, Syp was highly phosphorylated in OA Obs and its interaction with IRS-1 was very strong initially, yet rapidly dropped with IGF-1 treatments. The interaction of Grb2 with IRS-1 progressively increased in response to IGF-1 in OA Obs whereas this was absent in normal Ob. IGF-1 stimulation altered alkaline phosphatase in Ob, an effect reduced in the presence of PD98059, an inhibitor of p42/44 MAPK signaling, whereas neither IGF-1 nor PD98059 had any significant effect on collagen synthesis. In contrast, cell proliferation was higher in OA Obs compared to normal under basal conditions, and IGF-1 stimulated more cell proliferation in OA Obs than in normal Ob, an effect totally dependent on p42/44 MAPK activiy. The altered response of OA Obs to IGF-1 may be due to abnormal IGF-1 signaling in these cells. This is mostly linked with abnormal IRS-1/Syp and IRS-1/Grb2 interaction in these cells.
PMCID: PMC1794522  PMID: 17129375

Results 1-25 (211)