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1.  COX-2: Where are we in 2003? - Be strong and resolute: continue to use COX-2 selective inhibitors at recommended dosages in appropriate patients 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2002;5(1):28-31.
Cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 selective inhibitors have been shown to have comparable efficacy to nonselective nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in the treatment of patients with osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Large outcome studies have shown that patients with OA and RA not taking low-dose aspirin have fewer symptomatic and complicated upper GI events when treated with COX-2 selective inhibitors than with nonselective NSAIDs. When used in recommended dosages, there is no convincing evidence that patients treated with COX-2 selective inhibitors have an increased incidence of cardiovascular thrombotic events, including non-fatal myocardial infarction, than patients treated with either placebo or nonselective NSAIDs other than naproxen. Co-therapy with low-dose aspirin is recommended in patients with OA and RA at increased risk for cardiovascular events; the need for gastroprotective therapy in such patients is controversial.
PMCID: PMC154435  PMID: 12716445
celecoxib; COX-2 selective inhibitors; osteoarthritis; rheumatoid arthritis; rofecoxib
2.  Adult mesenchymal stem cells and cell-based tissue engineering 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2002;5(1):32-45.
The identification of multipotential mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) derived from adult human tissues, including bone marrow stroma and a number of connective tissues, has provided exciting prospects for cell-based tissue engineering and regeneration. This review focuses on the biology of MSCs, including their differentiation potentials in vitro and in vivo, and the application of MSCs in tissue engineering. Our current understanding of MSCs lags behind that of other stem cell types, such as hematopoietic stem cells. Future research should aim to define the cellular and molecular fingerprints of MSCs and elucidate their endogenous role(s) in normal and abnormal tissue functions.
PMCID: PMC154434  PMID: 12716446
cell differentiation; cell signaling; mesenchymal stem cells; stem cells; tissue engineering
3.  COX-2: Where are we in 2003? - Specific cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors and aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2002;5(1):25-27.
The use of analgesic anti-inflammatory agents in patients with asthma is clinically challenging because of the prevalence (10–20%) of aspirin hypersensitivity. Aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD), or aspirin-induced asthma, is characterized by asthma and rhinitis triggered by the ingestion of aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. AERD is associated with upper and lower respiratory-tract mucosal inflammation, progressive sinusitis, nasal polyposis, and asthma regardless of whether patients avoid triggering drugs. The mechanism underlying the propensity of aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to cause this reaction is thought to involve inhibition of the synthesis of protective prostaglandins (PGs), resulting in an increase in the synthesis of cysteinyl leukotrienes by eosinophils and mast cells. Clinical data suggest that protective PGs are derived from cyclooxygenase (COX)-1 because studies have now confirmed that drugs specifically inhibiting COX-2 are not cross-reactive with aspirin in patients with AERD.
PMCID: PMC154436  PMID: 12716444
aspirin; asthma; cyclooxygenase inhibitors; non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
4.  Autologous chondrocyte implantation for cartilage repair: monitoring its success by magnetic resonance imaging and histology 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2002;5(1):R60-R73.
Autologous chondrocyte implantation is being used increasingly for the treatment of cartilage defects. In spite of this, there has been a paucity of objective, standardised assessment of the outcome and quality of repair tissue formed. We have investigated patients treated with autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI), some in conjunction with mosaicplasty, and developed objective, semiquantitative scoring schemes to monitor the repair tissue using MRI and histology. Results indicate repair tissue to be on average 2.5 mm thick. It was of varying morphology ranging from predominantly hyaline in 22% of biopsy specimens, mixed in 48%, through to predominantly fibrocartilage, in 30%, apparently improving with increasing time postgraft. Repair tissue was well integrated with the host tissue in all aspects viewed. MRI scans provide a useful assessment of properties of the whole graft area and adjacent tissue and is a noninvasive technique for long-term follow-up. It correlated with histology (P = 0.02) in patients treated with ACI alone.
PMCID: PMC154433  PMID: 12716454
cartilage repair; collagens; glycosaminoglycans histology; MRI
5.  Exposure to receptor-activator of NFκB ligand renders pre-osteoclasts resistant to IFN-γ by inducing terminal differentiation 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2002;5(1):R49-R59.
While it has been established that IFN-γ is a strong activator of macrophages and a potent inhibitor of osteoclastogenesis in vitro, it is also known that this cytokine is produced in particular settings of inflammatory bone loss, such as infection and psoriatic arthritis. Because of the different kinetics between rapid IFN-γ macrophage activation (<24 hours) and the slower receptor-activator of NFκB ligand (RANKL) osteoclast differentiation (7 days), we postulated that IFN-γ would have different effects on early-stage and late-stage osteoclast precursors. In RAW264.7 cells and primary splenocyte cultures, pretreatment with RANKL rendered these cells resistant to maximally anti-osteoclastogenic doses of IFN-γ. These cells were also resistant to IFN-γ-induced nitric oxide production, morphological change, and surface upregulation of CD11b and receptor-activator of NFκB, suggesting that early exposure of osteoclast precursors to RANKL induces a broad resistance to the cellular effects of IFN-γ. Changes in STAT1 activation did not correlate with this resistance, as IFN-γ activated STAT1 equally in both early-stage and late-stage pre-osteoclasts. Furthermore, we failed to observe changes in TRAF6 expression following IFN-γ treatment in pre-osteoclasts. Together these data support a model of inflammatory bone loss in which early exposure to RANKL can prime osteoclast precursors to form in the presence of high levels of IFN-γ using mechanisms independent of the signal molecules STAT1 and TRAF6.
PMCID: PMC154432  PMID: 12716453
cellular differentiation; cytokines; monocytes/macrophages
6.  Drugs in development: bisphosphonates and metalloproteinase inhibitors 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2002;5(1):12-24.
The destruction of bone and cartilage is characteristic of the progression of musculoskeletal diseases. The present review discusses the developments made with two different classes of drugs, the bisphosphonates and matrix metalloproteinase inhibitors. Bisphosphonates have proven to be an effective and safe treatment for the prevention of bone loss, especially in osteoporotic disease, and may have a role in the treatment of arthritic diseases. The development of matrix metalloproteinase inhibitors and their role as potential therapies are also discussed, especially in the light of the disappointing human trials data so far published.
PMCID: PMC154424  PMID: 12716443
bone; cartilage; collagen; metalloproteinases; tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase
7.  The relationship between predicted peptide–MHC class II affinity and T-cell activation in a HLA-DRβ1*0401 transgenic mouse model 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2002;5(1):R40-R48.
The HLA-DRB1*0401 MHC class II molecule (DR4) is genetically associated with rheumatoid arthritis. It has been proposed that this MHC class II molecule participates in disease pathogenesis by presenting arthritogenic endogenous or exogenous peptides to CD4+ T cells, leading to their activation and resulting in an inflammatory response within the synovium. In order to better understand DR4 restricted T cell activation, we analyzed the candidate arthritogenic antigens type II collagen, human aggrecan, and the hepatitis B surface antigen for T-cell epitopes using a predictive model for determining peptide–DR4 affinity. We also applied this model to determine whether cross-reactive T-cell epitopes can be predicted based on known MHC–peptide–TCR interactions. Using the HLA-DR4-IE transgenic mouse, we showed that both T-cell proliferation and Th1 cytokine production (IFN-γ) correlate with the predicted affinity of a peptide for DR4. In addition, we provide evidence that TCR recognition of a peptide–DR4 complex is highly specific in that similar antigenic peptide sequences, containing identical amino acids at TCR contact positions, do not activate the same population of T cells.
PMCID: PMC154425  PMID: 12716452
cross-reactivity; MHC class II; peptide; rheumatoid arthritis; T cell
8.  The angiogenesis inhibitor protease-activated kringles 1–5 reduces the severity of murine collagen-induced arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2002;5(1):R32-R39.
During rheumatoid arthritis there is enlargement and increased cellularity of the synovial lining of joints, before invasion by the synovium of the underlying cartilage and bone. This increased tissue mass requires a network of blood vessels to supply nutrients and oxygen. Disruption of synovial angiogenesis is thus a desirable aim of antiarthritic therapies. Protease-activated kringles 1–5 (K1–5) is an angiogenesis inhibitor related to angiostatin. In common with angiostatin, K1–5 contains the first four kringle domains of plasminogen, but also encompasses the kringle 5 domain, which confers enhanced antiangiogenic activity when compared with angiostatin. The purpose of the present study was to assess the effect on murine arthritis of K1–5. Arthritis was induced in DBA/1 mice by a single injection of bovine collagen. Treatment with K1–5 was commenced on the day of arthritis onset and continued for 10 days, until the end of the experiment. Daily intraperitoneal administration of K1–5 (2 mg/kg body weight) significantly reduced both paw swelling and clinical score (a composite index of the number of arthritic limbs and the severity of disease). The clinical efficacy of this treatment was reflected by a reduction in joint inflammation and destruction, as assessed histologically. These data suggest that antiangiogenic therapies, which block formation of new blood vessels and hence reduce synovial expansion, might be effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis.
PMCID: PMC154428  PMID: 12716451
angiogenesis; arthritis
9.  Cox-2: where are we in 2003? - Cardiovascular risk and Cox-2 inhibitors 
Selective cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors were developed to reduce the gastrointestinal toxicity of conventional nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents. However, COX-2 inhibitors decrease prostacyclin production and may disrupt the normal homeostatic balance, leading to a prothrombotic state and offsetting the potential gastrointestinal benefits. Available clinical data and basic biological studies raise significant concern about the potential prothrombotic effect of this class of drugs. Two recent studies with a newer, more selective COX-2 inhibitor have added to the already existing concern about the cardiovascular safety of these agents. The widespread use of these agents mandates prospective, randomized evaluation of the cardiovascular safety of COX-2 inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC154429  PMID: 12716442
cardiovascular risk; cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors; prothrombotic effects; prostaglandins
10.  Heterogeneity of CD4 and CD8+ memory T cells in localized and generalized Wegener's granulomatosis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2002;5(1):R25-R31.
Memory T cells display phenotypic heterogeneity. Surface antigens previously regarded as exclusive markers of naive T cells, such as L-selectin (CD62L), can also be detected on some memory T cells. Moreover, a fraction of CD45RO+ (positive for the short human isoform of CD45) memory T cells reverts to the CD45RA+ (positive for the long human isoform of CD45) phenotype. We analyzed patients with biopsy-proven localized Wegener's granulomatosis (WG) (n = 5), generalized WG (n = 16) and age- and sex-matched healthy controls (n = 13) to further characterize memory T cells in WG. The cell-surface expression of CD45RO, CD45RA, CD62L, CCR3, CCR5 and CXCR3 was determined on blood-derived T cells by four-color flow cytometric analysis. The fractions of CCR5+ and CCR3+ cells within the CD4+CD45RO+ and CD8+CD45RO+ memory T cell populations were significantly expanded in localized and generalized WG. The mean percentage of Th1-type CCR5 expression was higher in localized WG. Upregulated CCR5 and CCR3 expression could also be detected on a fraction of CD45RA+ T cells. CD62L expression was seen on approximately half of the memory T cell populations expressing chemokine receptors. This study demonstrates for the first time that expression of the inducible inflammatory chemokine receptors CCR5 and CCR3 on CD45RO+ memory T cells, as well as on CD45RA+ T cells ('revertants'), contributes to phenotypic heterogeneity in an autoimmune disease, namely WG. Upregulated CCR5 and CCR3 expression suggests that the cells belong to the effector memory T cell population. CCR5 and CCR3 expression on CD4+ and CD8+ memory T cells indicates a potential to respond to chemotactic gradients and might be important in T cell migration contributing to granuloma formation and vasculitis in WG.
PMCID: PMC154430  PMID: 12716450
CD45RA revertant; CD62L; chemokine receptor; effector memory T cell; Wegener's granulomatosis
11.  Cox-2: Where are we in 2003? - The role of cyclooxygenase-2 in bone repair 
Prostaglandins are important mediators of bone repair, and cyclooxygenases are required for prostaglandin production. Data from animal studies suggest that both non-specific and specific inhibitors of cyclooxygenases impair fracture healing but that this is due to the inhibition of COX-2 and not COX-1. Although these data raise concerns about the use of COX-2-specific inhibitors as anti-inflammatory or anti-analgesic drugs in patients undergoing bone repair, clinical reports have been inconclusive. Because animal data suggest that the effects of COX-2 inhibitors are both dose-dependent and reversible, in the absence of scientifically sound clinical evidence it is suggested that physicians consider short-term administration or other drugs in the management of these patients.
PMCID: PMC154427  PMID: 12716441
bone repair; cyclooxygenase-2; fracture healing; non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; prostaglandins
12.  Collagen-induced arthritis is exacerbated in IL-10-deficient mice 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2002;5(1):R18-R24.
IL-10 is a potent immunoregulatory cytokine attenuating a wide range of immune effector and inflammatory responses. In the present study, we assess whether endogenous levels of IL-10 function to regulate the incidence and severity of collagen-induced arthritis. DBA/1 wildtype (WT), heterozygous (IL-10+/-) and homozygous (IL-10-/-) IL-10-deficient mice were immunized with type II collagen. Development of arthritis was monitored over time, and collagen-specific cytokine production and anticollagen antibodies were assessed. Arthritis developed progressively in mice immunized with collagen, and 100% of the WT, IL-10+/-, and IL-10-/- mice were arthritic at 35 days. However, the severity of arthritis in the IL-10-/- mice was significantly greater than that in WT or IL-1+/- animals. Disease severity was associated with reduced IFN-γ levels and a dramatic increase in CD11b-positive macrophages. Paradoxically, both the IgG1 and IgG2a anticollagen antibody responses were also significantly reduced. These data demonstrate that IL-10 is capable of controlling disease severity through a mechanism that involves IFN-γ. Since IL-10 levels are elevated in rheumatoid arthritis synovial fluid, these findings may have relevance to rheumatoid arthritis.
PMCID: PMC154422  PMID: 12716449
antibody; arthritis; autoimmunity; cytokines
13.  Urokinase, a constitutive component of the inflamed synovial fluid, induces arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2002;5(1):R9-R17.
Urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) is an important regulator of fibrinolysis in synovial fluid. An increase of uPA activity and expression of its receptor have been reported in joints of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The aim of the present study was to assess the arthritogenic capacity of uPA and the mechanisms by which this effect is mediated. uPA was injected into the knee joints of healthy mice, and morphological signs of arthritis were assessed 4 days after the injection. The prerequisite of different leukocyte populations for the development of uPA-triggered arthritis was assessed by selective cell depletion. The inflammatory capacity of uPA was assessed in vitro. Finally, levels of uPA were measured in 67 paired blood and synovial fluid samples from RA patients. The synovial fluid from RA patients displayed higher levels of uPA compared with blood samples. Morphological signs of arthritis were found in 72% of uPA-injected joints compared with in only 18% of joints injected with PBS (P < 0.05). Synovitis was characterised by infiltration of CD4-Mac-1+ mononuclear cells, by the formation of pannus and by occasional cartilage destruction. The absence of monocytes and lymphocytes diminished the frequency of synovitis (P < 0.01), indicating an arthritogenic role of both these leukocyte populations. Synthetic uPA inhibitor downregulated the incidence of uPA-triggered arthritis by 50%. uPA induced arthritis, stimulating the release of proinflammatory cytokines IL-6, IL-1β and tumour necrosis factor alpha. Accumulation of uPA locally in the joint cavity is a typical finding in erosive RA. uPA exerts potent arthritogenic properties and thus may be viewed as one of the essential mediators of joint inflammation.
PMCID: PMC154426  PMID: 12716448
arthritis; inflammation; urokinase plasminogen activator
14.  Announcement 
We are pleased to announce a number of changes to the journal that will take effect from the start of 2003.
PMCID: PMC154431  PMID: 16509962
15.  Investigation of infectious agents associated with arthritis by reverse transcription PCR of bacterial rRNA 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2002;5(1):R1-R8.
In reactive and postinfectious arthritis the joints are generally sterile but the presence of bacterial antigens and nucleic acids has been reported. To investigate whether organisms traffic to affected joints in these conditions, we performed reverse transcription PCR using universal primers to amplify any bacterial 16S rRNA sequences present in synovial fluid. Bacterial sequences were detected in most cases, even after treatment of the synovial fluid with DNase, implying the presence of bacterial RNA and therefore of transcriptionally active bacteria. Analysis of a large number of sequences revealed that, as reported in rheumatoid arthritis, most were derived from gut and skin commensals. Organisms known to have triggered arthritis in each case were not found by sequencing the products obtained using universal primers, but could in some cases be shown to be present by amplifying with species specific primers. This was the case for Yersinia pseudotuberculosis and Chlamydia trachomatis. However, in arthritis thought to be related to Campylobacter infection the sequences obtained were not from Campylobacter jejuni or C. coli, but from other Campylobacter spp. that are not known to be associated with reactive arthritis and are probably present as commensals in the gut. We conclude that although rRNA from reactive arthritis associated organisms can be detected in affected joints, bacterial RNA from many other bacteria is also present, as was previously noted in studies of other forms of inflammatory arthropathy.
PMCID: PMC154423  PMID: 12716447
bacterial rRNA; Campylobacter; Chlamydia; reactive arthritis; Yersinia
16.  Elucidation of the potential roles of matrix metalloproteinases in skeletal biology 
Irreversible destruction of joint structures is a major feature of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Fibrillar collagens in bone, cartilage and other soft tissues are critical for optimal joint form and function. Several approaches can be used to ascertain the role of collagenases, matrix metalloproteinases, in proteolysis of joint collagens in arthritis. These approaches include identifying spontaneous genetic disorders of the enzymes and substrates in humans and animals, as well as engineering mutations in the genes that encode these proteins in mice. Insights gained from such studies can be used to design new therapies to interrupt these catabolic events.
PMCID: PMC154421  PMID: 12716440
arthritis; bone remodeling; collagenases; collagens; skeletal development

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