Interleukin-7 (IL-7) is a stromal factor that is crucial for the development of T lymphocytes in humans and mice, and also B lymphocytes in mice. IL-7 can act as a T cell growth factor as well as a critical anti-apoptotic survival factor. The essential non-redundant role of this cytokine for T cell development in vivo is indicated by the phenotype of murine knockout models as well as by humans with a T-B+NK+ form of severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) resulting from mutations in IL-7 receptor α chain. IL-7 deficiency has now been found in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, a finding that relates not only to the T-lymphocyte status in this disease but also to the ability of patients with rheumatoid arthritis to recover from therapy-induced lymphopenia.
Interleukin 18 (IL-18), a member of the IL-1 superfamily of cytokines has been demonstrated to be an important mediator of both innate and adaptive immune responses. Several reports have implicated its role in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Although biologic therapy is firmly established in the treatment of a number of inflammatory diseases including RA, partial and non-responder patients constitute residual unmet clinical need. The aim of this article is to briefly review the biology of, and experimental approaches to IL-18 neutralisation, together with speculation as to the relative merits of IL-18 as an alternative to existing targets.
cytokine; IL-18; inflammation rheumatoid arthritis
In patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), chemokine and chemokine receptor interactions play a central role in the recruitment of leukocytes into inflamed joints. This study was undertaken to characterize the expression of chemokine receptors in the synovial tissue of RA and non-RA patients. RA synovia (n = 8) were obtained from knee joint replacement operations and control non-RA synovia (n = 9) were obtained from arthroscopic knee biopsies sampled from patients with recent meniscal or articular cartilage damage or degeneration. The mRNA expression of chemokine receptors and their ligands was determined using gene microarrays and PCR. The protein expression of these genes was demonstrated by single-label and double-label immunohistochemistry. Microarray analysis showed the mRNA for CXCR5 to be more abundant in RA than non-RA synovial tissue, and of the chemokine receptors studied CXCR5 showed the greatest upregulation. PCR experiments confirmed the differential expression of CXCR5. By immunohistochemistry we were able to detect CXCR5 in all RA and non-RA samples. In the RA samples the presence of CXCR5 was observed on B cells and T cells in the infiltrates but also on macrophages and endothelial cells. In the non-RA samples the presence of CXCR5 was limited to macrophages and endothelial cells. CXCR5 expression in synovial fluid macrophages and peripheral blood monocytes from RA patients was confirmed by PCR. The present study shows that CXCR5 is upregulated in RA synovial tissue and is expressed in a variety of cell types. This receptor may be involved in the recruitment and positioning of B cells, T cells and monocytes/macrophages in the RA synovium. More importantly, the increased level of CXCR5, a homeostatic chemokine receptor, in the RA synovium suggests that non-inflammatory receptor–ligand pairs might play an important role in the pathogenesis of RA.
chemokine receptors; CXCR5; microarrays; rheumatoid synovium
We present here an extensive study of differential gene expression in the initiation, acute and chronic phases of murine autoimmune arthritis with the use of high-density oligonucleotide arrays interrogating the entire mouse genome. Arthritis was induced in severe combined immunodeficient mice by using adoptive transfer of lymphocytes from proteoglycan-immunized arthritic BALB/c mice. In this unique system only proteoglycan-specific lymphocytes are transferred from arthritic mice into syngeneic immunodeficient recipients that lack adaptive immunity but have intact innate immunity on an identical (BALB/c) genetic background.
Differential gene expression in response to donor lymphocytes that migrated into the joint can therefore be monitored in a precisely timed manner, even before the onset of inflammation. The initiation phase of adoptively transferred disease (several days before the onset of joint swelling) was characterized by differential expression of 37 genes, mostly related to chemokines, interferon-γ and tumor necrosis factor-α signaling, and T cell functions. These were designated early arthritis 'signature' genes because they could distinguish between the naive and the pre-arthritic state. Acute joint inflammation was characterized by at least twofold overexpression of 256 genes and the downregulation of 21 genes, whereas in chronic arthritis a total of 418 genes with an equal proportion of upregulated and downregulated transcripts were expressed differentially.
Hierarchical clustering and functional classification of inflammation-related and arthritis-related genes indicated that the most common biological activities were represented by genes encoding interleukins, chemokine receptors and ligands, and by those involved in antigen recognition and processing.
DNA expression array; differential gene expression; inflammation; arthritis-related genes; rheumatoid arthritis
We conducted the present study to investigate protein expression and functioning of A2A and A2B adenosine receptors (ARs) in neutrophils of patients affected by systemic sclerosis (SSc). The presence of A2A and A2B ARs was assessed by immunoblotting using specific antibodies. Equilibrium A2A and A2B ARs binding parameters were evaluated by radioligand binding assay. Functional studies were conducted to investigate coupling of the A2B AR to the adenylyl cyclase pathway. This is the first report of the use of Western blot analysis to confirm the presence of A2A and A2B ARs in human neutrophils. No significant changes in A2A AR binding parameters or expression levels were detected between SSc patients and healthy control individuals. A significant decrease (65%) in the maximum density of A2B AR binding sites occurred in SSc neutrophils, whereas no changes in the affinity constant values were found. Moreover, a decrease in A2B AR mediated adenylyl cyclase activity was observed in patients with SSc. Our findings demonstrate the occurrence of selective alterations in A2B AR density and signalling in SSc.
adenosine; A2 adenosine receptors; neutrophils; receptor binding; systemic sclerosis
This unblinded preliminary case-control study was done to demonstrate functional and structural changes in the microcirculation of patients with primary fibromyalgia (FM). We studied 10 women (54.0 ± 3.7 years of age) with FM diagnosed in accordance with the classification criteria of the American College of Rheumatology, and controls in three groups (n = 10 in each group) – age-matched women who were healthy or who had rheumatoid arthritis or systemic scleroderma (SSc). All 40 subjects were tested within a 5-week period by the same investigators, using two noninvasive methods, laser fluxmetry and capillary microscopy. The FM patients were compared with the healthy controls (negative controls) and with rheumatoid arthritis patients and SSc patients (positive controls). FM patients had fewer capillaries in the nail fold (P < 0.001) and significantly more capillary dilatations (P < 0.05) and irregular formations (P < 0.01) than the healthy controls. Interestingly, the peripheral blood flow in FM patients was much less (P < 0.001) than in healthy controls but did not differ from that of SSc patients (P = 0.73). The data suggest that functional disturbances of microcirculation are present in FM patients and that morphological abnormalities may also influence their microcirculation.
capillary microscopy; fibromyalgia; laser fluxmetry; microcirculation
Cartilage and bone degradation, observed in human rheumatoid arthritis (RA), are caused by aberrant expression of proteinases, resulting in an imbalance of these degrading enzymes and their inhibitors. However, the role of the individual proteinases in the pathogenesis of degradation is not yet completely understood. Murine antigen-induced arthritis (AIA) is a well-established animal model of RA. We investigated the time profiles of expression of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP), cathepsins, tissue inhibitors of matrix metalloproteinases (TIMP) and cystatins in AIA. For primary screening, we revealed the expression profile with Affymetrix oligonucleotide chips. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analyses were performed for the validation of array results, for tests of more RNA samples and for the completion of the time profile. For the analyses at the protein level, we used an MMP fluorescence activity assay and zymography. By a combination of oligonucleotide chips, real-time PCR and zymography, we showed differential expressions of several MMPs, cathepsins and proteinase inhibitors in the course of AIA. The strongest dysregulation was observed on days 1 and 3 in the acute phase. Proteoglycan loss analysed by safranin O staining was also strongest on days 1 and 3. Expression of most of the proteinases followed the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines. TIMP-3 showed an expression profile similar to that of anti-inflammatory interleukin-4. The present study indicates that MMPs and cathepsins are important in AIA and contribute to the degradation of cartilage and bone.
Affymetrix oligonucleotide chips; cathepsins; cytokines; matrix metalloproteinases; murine antigen-induced arthritis
Tumour necrosis factor (TNF) signalling molecules are considered as promising therapeutic targets of antirheumatic therapy. Among them, mitogen-activated protein kinases are thought to be of central importance. Herein, we investigate the role in vivo of TNF-α signalling through c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK)1 in destructive arthritis. Human TNF transgenic (hTNFtg) mice, which develop inflammatory arthritis, were intercrossed with JNK1-deficient (JNK1-/-) mice. Animals (n = 35) of all four genotypes (wild-type, JNK1-/-, hTNFtg, JNK1-/-hTNFtg) were assessed for clinical and histological signs of arthritis. Clinical features of arthritis (swelling and decreased grip strength) developed equally in hTNFtg and JNK1-/-hTNFtg mice. Histological analyses revealed no differences in the quantity of synovial inflammation and bone erosions or in the cellular composition of the synovial infiltrate. Bone destruction and osteoclast formation were observed to a similar degree in hTNFtg and JNK1-/-hTNFtg animals. Moreover, cartilage damage, as indicated by proteoglycan loss in the articular cartilage, was comparable in the two strains. Intact phosphorylation of JNK and c-Jun as well as expression of JNK2 in the synovial tissue of JNK1-/-hTNFtg mice suggests that signalling through JNK2 may compensate for the deficiency in JNK1. Thus, JNK1 activation does not seem to be essential for TNF-mediated arthritis.
arthritis; JNK1; TNF-α transgenic
While morphologic and biochemical aspects of degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis [OA]) have been elucidated by numerous studies, the molecular mechanisms underlying the progressive loss of articular cartilage during OA development remain largely unknown. The main focus of the present study was to gain more insight into molecular changes during the very early stages of mechanically induced cartilage degeneration and to relate molecular alterations to histological changes at distinct localizations of the joint. Studies on human articular cartilage are hampered by the difficulty of obtaining normal tissue and early-stage OA tissue, and they allow no progressive follow-up. An experimental OA model in dogs with a slow natural history of OA (Pond–Nuki model) was therefore chosen. Anterior cruciate ligament transection (ACLT) was performed on 24 skeletally mature dogs to induce joint instability resulting in OA. Samples were taken from different joint areas after 6, 12, 24 and 48 weeks, and gene expression levels of common cartilage molecules were quantified in relation to the histological grading (modified Mankin score) of adjacent tissue. Histological changes reflected early progressive degenerative OA. Soon after ACLT, chondrocytes responded to the altered mechanical conditions by significant and stable elevation of collagen type II, collagen type I and YKL40 expression, which persisted throughout the study. In contrast to the mild to moderate histological alterations, these molecular changes were not progressive and were independent of the joint localization (tibia, femur, lateral, medial) and the extent of matrix degeneration. MMP13 remained unaltered until 24 weeks, and aggrecan and tenascinC remained unaltered until 48 weeks after ACLT. These findings indicate that elevated collagen type II, collagen type I and YKL40 mRNA expression levels are early and sensitive measures of ACLT-induced joint instability independent of a certain grade of morphological cartilage degeneration. A second phase of molecular changes in OA may begin around 48 weeks after ACLT with altered expression of further genes, such as MMP13, aggrecan and tenascin. Molecular changes observed in the present study suggest that dog cartilage responds to degenerative conditions by regulating the same genes in a similar direction as that observed for chondrocytes in late human OA.
ACLT; cartilage; gene expression; histology; osteoarthritis
Our objective was to clarify the heterogeneity in response to infliximab treatment in rheumatoid arthritis (RA); to this end, a bioassay was designed to explore the contribution of circulating tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α bioactivity and its possible link to response. The bioassay is based on the induction of IL-6 and osteoprotegerin (OPG) production by synoviocytes in response to TNF-α. RA synoviocytes were cultured with TNF-α (5 ng/ml) and 42 RA plasma samples collected just before starting therapy. Levels of IL-6 and OPG were measured in supernatants. In 20 of the patients, plasma samples collected before and 4 hours after the first and the ninth infusions were tested in the same way. Plasma concentrations of TNF-α and p55 and p75 soluble receptors were measured using ELISA. TNF-α induced IL-6 and OPG production by synoviocytes, which was further increased with patient plasma dilutions and inhibited by infliximab. With plasma samples obtained before the first infusion, the IL-6-induced production was greater in patients with a good clinical response than in the poor responders (44.4 ± 23.3 ng/ml versus 27.4 ± 20.9 ng/ml; P = 0.05). This high circulating TNF-α bioactivity was strongly inhibited with the first infliximab infusion. The difference between IL-6 levels induced with plasma samples obtained before and 4 hours after the first infusion was greater in patients with a good clinical response (40.0 ± 23.7 ng/ml versus 3.4 ± 10.0 ng/ml; P = 0.001). Similar findings were obtained for OPG production (7.0 ± 6.2 ng/ml versus 0.0 ± 3.0 ng/ml; P < 0.05). Levels of circulating TNF-α bioactivity were predictive of clinical response to TNF-α inhibition, confirming a key role for TNF-α in these RA patients.
TNF; Infliximab; Bioactivity; Response; Treatment
The family of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) senses conserved structures found in a broad range of pathogens, causing innate immune responses that include the production of inflammatory cytokines, chemokines and interferons. The signal transduction is initiated from the Toll/interleukin-1 receptor (TIR) domain of TLRs after pathogen recognition. Almost all TLRs use a TIR-containing adapter MyD88 to activate a common signaling pathway that results in the activation of NF-κB to express cytokine genes relevant to inflammation. Recently, three further TIR-containing adapters have been identified and shown to selectively interact with several TLRs. In particular, activation of the TRIF-dependent pathway confers antiviral responses by inducing anti-viral genes including that encoding interferon-β. Taken together, these results indicate that the interaction between individual TLRs and the different combinations of adapters directs appropriate responses against distinct pathogens.
inflammatory cytokines; innate immunity; interferons; TIR-domain containing adapter; TLR
The antigens that trigger the pathogenic immune response in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) remain unknown. Until recently it was assumed that either viral or microbial antigens, or joint-specific antigens were the target of arthritogenic T and B lymphocytes in RA. Consequently, murine models of arthritis are induced by immunization with either joint-specific antigens such as type II collagen or microbial products such as streptococcal cell wall. In the K/B×N T-cell receptor transgenic mouse model arthritis is caused by a systemic autoimmune response to the ubiquitously expressed glycolytic enzyme glucose-6-phosphate isomerase (G6PI). The autoreactive transgenic T cells recognize G6PI and provide help for the production of arthritogenic IgG antibodies against G6PI. More recently it was shown that G6PI immunization induces severe symmetrical peripheral polyarthritis in genetically unaltered DBA/I mice. In that model CD4+ T cells are necessary not only for the induction but also for the effector phase of arthritis. Here we review the pathomechanisms that lead from systemic autoreactivity to arthritis in these models, consider the relevance of anti-G6PI immune reactivity for RA, and discuss the insights into the pathogenesis of RA and possibly other autoimmune conditions that can be gained from these models.
arthritis; CD4+ T lymphocytes; DBA/I mice; FCγ receptors; glucose-6-phosphate-isomerase
Interleukin-17 (IL-17) is a T cell cytokine spontaneously produced by cultures of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) synovial membranes. High levels have been detected in the synovial fluid of patients with RA. The trigger for IL-17 is not fully identified; however, IL-23 promotes the production of IL-17 and a strong correlation between IL-15 and IL-17 levels in synovial fluid has been observed. IL-17 is a potent inducer of various cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, IL-1, and receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL). Additive or even synergistic effects with IL-1 and TNF-α in inducing cytokine expression and joint damage have been shown in vitro and in vivo. This review describes the role of IL-17 in the pathogenesis of destructive arthritis with a major focus on studies in vivo in arthritis models. From these studies in vivo it can be concluded that IL-17 becomes significant when T cells are a major element of the arthritis process. Moreover, IL-17 has the capacity to induce joint destruction in an IL-1-independent manner and can bypass TNF-dependent arthritis. Anti-IL-17 cytokine therapy is of interest as an additional new anti-rheumatic strategy for RA, in particular in situations in which elevated IL-17 might attenuate the response to anti-TNF/anti-IL-1 therapy.
autoimmune diseases; cytokine; inflammation; interleukin-23; osteoclast; receptor activator of NF-κB ligand
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.
interleukin-17; nuclear factor κB; PI3K/Akt pathway; peripheral blood mononuclear cells; rheumatoid arthritis
The failure of chondrocytes to replace the lost extracellular matrix contributes to the progression of degenerative disorders of cartilage. Inflammatory mediators present in the joint regulate the breakdown of the established matrix and the synthesis of new extracellular matrix molecules. In the present study, we investigated the effects of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and epidermal growth factor (EGF) on chondrocyte morphology and matrix gene expression. Chondrocytes were isolated from distal femoral condyles of neonatal rats. Cells in primary culture displayed a cobblestone appearance. EGF, but not TNF-α, increased the number of cells exhibiting an elongated morphology. TNF-α potentiated the effect of EGF on chondrocyte morphology. Individually, TNF-α and EGF diminished levels of aggrecan and type II collagen mRNA. In combination, the effects of TNF-α and EGF were additive, indicating the involvement of discrete signaling pathways. Cell viability was not compromised by TNF-α or by EGF, alone or in combination. EGF alone did not activate NF-κB or alter NF-κB activation by TNF-α. Pharmacologic studies indicated that the effects of TNF-α and EGF alone or in combination were independent of protein kinase C signaling, but were dependent on MEK1/2 activity. Finally, we analyzed the involvement of Sox-9 using a reporter construct of the 48 base pair minimal enhancer of type II collagen. TNF-α attenuated enhancer activity as expected; in contrast, EGF did not alter either the effect of TNF-α or basal activity. TNF-α and EGF, acting through distinct signaling pathways, thus have additive adverse effects on chondrocyte function. These findings provide critical insights into the control of chondrocytes through the integration of multiple extracellular signals.
chondrocyte; epidermal growth factor; extracellular matrix; signaling; tumor necrosis factor alpha
Fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs) play a major role in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) by secreting effector molecules that promote inflammation and joint destruction. How these cells become and remain activated is still elusive. Both genetic and environmental factors probably play a role in transforming FLSs into inflammatory matrix-degrading cells. As bacterial products have been detected in the joint and shown to trigger joint inflammation, this study was undertaken to investigate whether a bacterial ligand of integrin α5β1, protein I/II, could contribute to the aggressive behavior of RA FLSs. Protein I/II is a pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMP) isolated from oral streptococci that have been identified in the joints of RA patients. The response of RA and osteoarthritis FLSs to protein I/II was analyzed using human cancer cDNA expression arrays. RT-PCR and pro-MMP-3 (pro-matrix metalloproteinase) assays were then performed to confirm the up-regulation of gene expression. Protein I/II modulated about 6% of all profiled genes. Three of these, those encoding IL-6, leukemia inhibitory factor, and MMP-3, showed a high expression level in all RA FLSs tested, whereas the expression of genes encoding other members of the cytokine or MMP-family was not affected. Furthermore, the up-regulation of MMP-3 gene expression was followed by an increase of pro-MMP-3 release. The expression of interferon regulatory factor 1 and fibroblast growth factor-5 was also up-regulated, although the expression levels were lower. Only one gene, that for insulin-like growth factor binding protein-4, was down-regulated in all RA FLSs. In contrast, in osteoarthritis FLSs only one gene, that for IL-6, was modulated. These results suggest that a bacterial ligand of integrin α5β1 may contribute to the aggressive behavior of RA FLSs by inducing the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines and a cartilage-degrading enzyme, such as IL-6 and MMP-3, respectively.
fibroblast-like synoviocytes; integrin α5β1; MMP-3; PAMP
Experimental arthritis models are considered valuable tools for delineating mechanisms of inflammation and autoimmune phenomena. Use of microarray-based methods represents a new and challenging approach that allows molecular dissection of complex autoimmune diseases such as arthritis. In order to characterize the temporal gene expression profile in joints from the reactivation model of streptococcal cell wall (SCW)-induced arthritis in Lewis (LEW/N) rats, total RNA was extracted from ankle joints from naïve, SCW injected, or phosphate buffered saline injected animals (time course study) and gene expression was analyzed using Affymetrix oligonucleotide microarray technology (RAE230A). After normalization and statistical analysis of data, 631 differentially expressed genes were sorted into clusters based on their levels and kinetics of expression using Spotfire® profile search and K-mean cluster analysis. Microarray-based data for a subset of genes were validated using real-time PCR TaqMan® analysis. Analysis of the microarray data identified 631 genes (441 upregulated and 190 downregulated) that were differentially expressed (Delta > 1.8, P < 0.01), showing specific levels and patterns of gene expression. The genes exhibiting the highest fold increase in expression on days -13.8, -13, or 3 were involved in chemotaxis, inflammatory response, cell adhesion and extracellular matrix remodelling. Transcriptome analysis identified 10 upregulated genes (Delta > 5), which have not previously been associated with arthritis pathology and are located in genomic regions associated with autoimmune disease. The majority of the downregulated genes were associated with metabolism, transport and regulation of muscle development. In conclusion, the present study describes the temporal expression of multiple disease-associated genes with potential pathophysiological roles in the reactivation model of SCW-induced arthritis in Lewis (LEW/N) rat. These findings improve our understanding of the molecular events that underlie the pathology in this animal model, which is potentially a valuable comparator to human rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
arthritis; differential gene expression; microarray; rat; SCW induced arthritis
Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions. The histological cartilage changes in OA include surface erosion and irregularities, deep fissures, and alterations in the staining of the matrix. The reversibility of these chondral alterations is still under debate. It is expected that clinical and basic science studies will provide the clinician with new scientific information about the natural history and optimal treatment of OA at an early stage. However, a reliable method for detecting microscopic changes in early OA has not yet been established. We have developed a novel system for evaluating articular cartilage, in which the acoustic properties of the articular cartilage are measured by introducing an ultrasonic probe into the knee joint under arthroscopy. The purpose of this study was to assess microscopic cartilage damage in OA by using this cartilage evaluation system on collagenase-treated articular cartilage in vivo and in vitro. Ultrasonic echoes from articular cartilage were converted into a wavelet map by wavelet transformation. On the wavelet map, the maximum magnitude and echo duration were selected as quantitative indices. Using these indices, the articular cartilage was examined to elucidate the relationships of the ultrasonic analysis with biochemical, biomechanical and histological analyses. In the in vitro study, the maximum magnitude decreased as the duration of collagenase digestion increased. Correlations were observed between the maximum magnitude and the proteoglycan content from biochemical findings, and the maximum magnitude and the aggregate modulus from biomechanical findings. From the histological findings, matrix staining of the surface layer to a depth of 500 μm was closely related to the maximum magnitude. In the in vivo study, the maximum magnitude decreased with increasing duration of the collagenase injection. There was a significant correlation between the maximum magnitude and the aggregate modulus. The evaluation system therefore successfully detected microscopic changes in degenerated cartilage with the use of collagen-induced OA.
cartilage; evaluation; osteoarthritis; ultrasound; wavelet transformation
We have reported previously that dihydropyridine-type calcium-channel antagonists (DTCCA) such as nifedipine decrease plasma markers of oxidative stress damage in systemic sclerosis (SSc). To clarify the cellular basis of these beneficial effects, we investigated the effects in vivo and in vitro of nifedipine on superoxide anion (O2•-) production by peripheral blood monocytes. We compared 10 healthy controls with 12 patients with SSc, first after interruption of treatment with DTCCA and second after 2 weeks of treatment with nifedipine (60 mg/day). O2•- production by monocytes stimulated with phorbol myristate acetate (PMA) was quantified by the cytochrome c reduction method. We also investigated the effects in vitro of DTCCA on O2•- production and protein phosphorylation in healthy monocytes and on protein kinase C (PKC) activity using recombinant PKC. After DTCCA had been washed out, monocytes from patients with SSc produced more O2•- than those from controls. Nifedipine treatment considerably decreased O2•- production by PMA-stimulated monocytes. Treatment of healthy monocytes with nifedipine in vitro inhibited PMA-induced O2•- production and protein phosphorylation in a dose-dependent manner. Finally, nifedipine strongly inhibited the activity of recombinant PKC in vitro. Thus, the oxidative stress damage observed in SSc is consistent with O2•- overproduction by primed monocytes. This was decreased by nifedipine treatment both in vivo and in vitro. This beneficial property of nifedipine seems to be mediated by its cellular action and by the inhibition of PKC activity. This supports the hypothesis that this drug could be useful for the treatment of diseases associated with oxidative stress.
monocyte; nifedipine; protein kinase C; superoxide anion; systemic sclerosis
We previously demonstrated prolonged, profound CD4+ T-lymphopenia in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients following lymphocyte-depleting therapy. Poor reconstitution could result either from reduced de novo T-cell production through the thymus or from poor peripheral expansion of residual T-cells. Interleukin-7 (IL-7) is known to stimulate the thymus to produce new T-cells and to allow circulating mature T-cells to expand, thereby playing a critical role in T-cell homeostasis. In the present study we demonstrated reduced levels of circulating IL-7 in a cross-section of RA patients. IL-7 production by bone marrow stromal cell cultures was also compromised in RA. To investigate whether such an IL-7 deficiency could account for the prolonged lymphopenia observed in RA following therapeutic lymphodepletion, we compared RA patients and patients with solid cancers treated with high-dose chemotherapy and autologous progenitor cell rescue. Chemotherapy rendered all patients similarly lymphopenic, but this was sustained in RA patients at 12 months, as compared with the reconstitution that occurred in cancer patients by 3–4 months. Both cohorts produced naïve T-cells containing T-cell receptor excision circles. The main distinguishing feature between the groups was a failure to expand peripheral T-cells in RA, particularly memory cells during the first 3 months after treatment. Most importantly, there was no increase in serum IL-7 levels in RA, as compared with a fourfold rise in non-RA control individuals at the time of lymphopenia. Our data therefore suggest that RA patients are relatively IL-7 deficient and that this deficiency is likely to be an important contributing factor to poor early T-cell reconstitution in RA following therapeutic lymphodepletion. Furthermore, in RA patients with stable, well controlled disease, IL-7 levels were positively correlated with the T-cell receptor excision circle content of CD4+ T-cells, demonstrating a direct effect of IL-7 on thymic activity in this cohort.
immune reconstitution; interleukin-7; T-cell differentiation; therapeutic lymphodepletion
Previously we reported that the variable heavy chain region (VH) of a human beta2 glycoprotein I-dependent monoclonal antiphospholipid antibody (IS4) was dominant in conferring the ability to bind cardiolipin (CL). In contrast, the identity of the paired variable light chain region (VL) determined the strength of CL binding. In the present study, we examine the importance of specific arginine residues in IS4VH and paired VL in CL binding. The distribution of arginine residues in complementarity determining regions (CDRs) of VH and VL sequences was altered by site-directed mutagenesis or by CDR exchange. Ten different 2a2 germline gene-derived VL sequences were expressed with IS4VH and the VH of an anti-dsDNA antibody, B3. Six variants of IS4VH, containing different patterns of arginine residues in CDR3, were paired with B3VL and IS4VL. The ability of the 32 expressed heavy chain/light chain combinations to bind CL was determined by ELISA. Of four arginine residues in IS4VH CDR3 substituted to serines, two residues at positions 100 and 100 g had a major influence on the strength of CL binding while the two residues at positions 96 and 97 had no effect. In CDR exchange studies, VL containing B3VL CDR1 were associated with elevated CL binding, which was reduced significantly by substitution of a CDR1 arginine residue at position 27a with serine. In contrast, arginine residues in VL CDR2 or VL CDR3 did not enhance CL binding, and in one case may have contributed to inhibition of this binding. Subsets of arginine residues at specific locations in the CDRs of heavy chains and light chains of pathogenic antiphospholipid antibodies are important in determining their ability to bind CL.
antiphospholipid antibodies; arginine; binding; cardiolipin
Cathepsin K is a cysteine protease that plays an essential role in osteoclast function and in the degradation of protein components of the bone matrix by cleaving proteins such as collagen type I, collagen type II and osteonectin. Cathepsin K therefore plays a role in bone remodelling and resorption in diseases such as osteoporosis, osteolytic bone metastasis and rheumatoid arthritis. We examined cathepsin K in the serum of 100 patients with active longstanding rheumatoid arthritis. We found increased levels of cathepsin K compared with a healthy control group and found a significant correlation with radiological destruction, measured by the Larsen score. Inhibition of cathepsin K may therefore be a new target for preventing bone erosion and joint destruction in rheumatoid arthritis. However, further studies have to be performed to prove that cathepsin K is a valuable parameter for bone metabolism in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis.
bone remodelling; cathepsin K; osteoclast activation; rheumatoid arthritis
Oncostatin M is a pro-inflammatory cytokine previously shown to promote marked cartilage destruction both in vitro and in vivo when in combination with IL-1 or tumour necrosis factor alpha. However, the in vivo effects of these potent cytokine combinations on bone catabolism are unknown. Using adenoviral gene transfer, we have overexpressed oncostatin M in combination with either IL-1 or tumour necrosis factor alpha intra-articularly in the knees of C57BL/6 mice. Both of these combinations induced marked bone damage and markedly increased tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase-positive multinucleate cell staining in the synovium and at the front of bone erosions. Furthermore, there was increased expression of RANK and its ligand RANKL in the inflammatory cells, in inflamed synovium and in articular cartilage of knee joints treated with the cytokine combinations compared with expression in joints treated with the cytokines alone or the control. This model of inflammatory arthritis demonstrates that, in vivo, oncostatin M in combination with either IL-1 or tumour necrosis factor alpha represents cytokine combinations that promote bone destruction. The model also provides further evidence that increased osteoclast-like, tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase-positive staining multinucleate cells and upregulation of RANK/RANKL in joint tissues are key factors in pathological bone destruction.
bone; IL-1; oncostatin M; RANK; tumour necrosis factor alpha