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Journal: Arthritis research & therapy


Effective treatment of reactive arthritis would ideally achieve both control of inflammation and eradication of persisting arthritogenic pathogens. We use a model of experimental Chlamydia trachomatis-induced arthritis (CtIA) to evaluate the effectiveness of nafamostat mesilate (NM), a serine protease inhibitor with complement-modifying effects and anticoagulant properties. To date clinical use of NM has largely been in Asia and has been primarily confined to inflammatory states such as pancreatitis.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Microbiology, Effect, Effectiveness, Serine protease, Protease, Reactive arthritis, Mesylate


Methotrexate (MTX) exerts at least part of its anti-inflammatory effects through adenosine receptors (ADOR). The aims of this study were to determine the expression of all four adenosine receptor genes (ADORA1, ADORA2A, ADORA2B, ADORA3 and ADORA3variant) in rheumatoid synovial tissue and any influence of MTX exposure on this expression. Furthermore, we investigated whether polymorphisms within ADORA3 were associated with response and/or adverse effects associated with MTX.

Concepts: Rheumatoid arthritis, Adenosine receptor, Adenosine, Adenosine A2A receptor, Adenosine A1 receptor, Adenosine receptors


There is currently no blood-based test for detection of early-stage osteoarthritis (OA) and the anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (CCP) antibody test for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has relatively low sensitivity for early-stage disease. Morbidity in arthritis could be markedly decreased if early-stage arthritis could be routinely detected and classified by clinical chemistry test. We hypothesised that damage to proteins of the joint by oxidation, nitration and glycation, and with signatures released in plasma as oxidized, nitrated and glycated amino acids may facilitate early-stage diagnosis and typing of arthritis.

Concepts: Antibody, Protein, Amino acid, Acid, Rheumatoid arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Nitrogen, Arthritis


INTRODUCTION: Among various lupus renal vascular changes, thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA) presented with most severe clinical manifestations and high mortality. The pathogenesis of TMA in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) was complicated. The aim of this study was to assess clinical manifestations, laboratory characteristics, pathological features and risk factors for clinical outcomes of lupus nephritis patients co-existing with renal TMA in a large cohort in China. METHODS: Clinical and renal histopathological data of 148 patients with biopsy-proven lupus nephritis were retrospectively analyzed. Serum complement factor H, ADAMTS-13 activity, antiphospholipid antibodies and C4d deposition on renal vessels were further detected and analyzed. RESULTS: In the 148 patients with lupus nephritis, 36 patients were diagnosed as co-existing with renal TMA based on pathological diagnosis. Among the 36 TMA patients, their clinical diagnoses of renal TMA were as followings: 2 patients combining with thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura-hemolytic uremic syndrome, 2 patients combining with anti-phospholipid syndrome, 2 patients with malignant hypertension, 1 patient with scleroderma and the other 29 patients presenting with isolated renal TMA. Compared with non-renal TMA group, patients with renal TMA had significantly higher urine protein (7.09+/-4.64 vs. 4.75+/-3.13 g/24h, P=0.007) and serum creatinine (159, 86-215 vs. 81, 68-112 mumol/l, P<0.001), higher scores of total activity indices (AI) (P<0.001), endocapillary hypercellularity (P<0.001), subendothelial hyaline deposits (P=0.003), interstitial inflammation (P=0.005), glomerular leukocyte infiltration (P=0.006), total chronicity indices (CI) (P=0.033), tubular atrophy (P=0.004) and interstitial fibrosis (P=0.018). Patients with renal TMA presented with poorer renal outcome (P=0.005) compared with non-TMA group. Renal TMA (hazard ratio (HR): 2.772, 95% confidence interval: 1.009-7.617, P=0.048) was an independent risk factor for renal outcome in patients with lupus nephritis. The renal outcome was poorer for those with both C4d deposition and decreased serum complement factor H in TMA group (P=0.007). CONCLUSIONS: There were various causes of renal TMA in lupus nephritis. Complement over-activation via both classical and alternative pathways might play an important role in the pathogenesis of renal TMA in lupus nephritis.

Concepts: Immune system, Rheumatology, Systemic lupus erythematosus, Glomerulonephritis, Complement system, Thrombocytopenia, Lupus nephritis, Antiphospholipid syndrome


INTRODUCTION: Fibrosis in scleroderma is associated with collagen deposition and myofibroblast accumulation. Peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma (PPAR-gamma), a master regulator of adipogenesis, inhibits profibrotic responses induced by transforming growth factor-SZ (TGF-beta), and its expression is impaired in scleroderma. The roles of adiponectin, a PPAR-gamma regulated pleiotropic adipokine, in regulating fibroblasts response and in mediating the effects of PPAR-gamma are unknown. METHODS: Regulation of fibrotic gene expression and TGF-SZ signaling by adiponectin and adenosine monophosphate protein-activated (AMP) kinase agonists were examined in normal fibroblasts in monolayer cultures and in 3-dimension skin equivalents. AdipoR1/2 expression on skin fibroblasts was determined by real-time qPCR. Gene expression changes were examined at the genome-wide level using microarrays. RESULTS: Adiponectin, an adipokine directly regulated by PPAR-gamma, acts as a potent anti-fibrotic signal in normal and scleroderma fibroblasts that abrogates the stimulatory effects of diverse fibrotic stimuli and reduces elevated collagen gene expression in scleroderma fibroblasts. Adiponectin responses are mediated via AMP kinase, a fuel-sensing cellular enzyme that is necessary and sufficient for down-regulation of fibrotic genes by blocking canonical Smad signaling. Moreover, we demonstrate that endogenous adiponectin accounts, at least in part, for the anti-fibrotic effects exerted by ligands of PPAR-gamma. CONCLUSIONS: These findings reveal a novel link between cellular energy metabolism and extracellular matrix homeostasis converging on AMP kinase. Since the levels of adiponectin as well as its receptor are impaired in scleroderma patients with progressive fibrosis, the present results suggest a potential role for defective adiponectin expression or function in progressive fibrogenesis in scleroderma and other chronic fibrosing conditions. Restoring the adiponectin signaling axis in fibroblasts might therefore represent a novel pharmacological approach to controlling fibrosis.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Signal transduction, Adenosine triphosphate, Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor, Fibrosis, AMP-activated protein kinase


INTRODUCTION: The largest genetic risk to develop rheumatoid arthritis (RA) arises from a group of alleles of the HLA DRB1 locus (“shared epitope”, SE). Over 30 non-HLA single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) predisposing to disease have been identified in Caucasians, but they have never been investigated in West/Central Africa. We previously reported a lower prevalence of the SE in RA patients in Cameroon compared to European patients and aimed in the present study to investigate the contribution of Caucasian non-HLA RA SNPs to disease susceptibility in Black Africans. METHODS: RA cases and controls from Cameroon were genotyped for Caucasian RA susceptibility SNPs using Sequenom MassArray technology. Genotype data was also available for 5024 UK cases and 4281 UK controls and for 119 Yoruba individuals in Ibadan, Nigeria (YRI, HapMap). A Caucasian aggregate genetic-risk score (GRS) was calculated as the sum of the weighted risk-allele counts. RESULTS: After genotyping quality control, data on 28 Caucasian non-HLA susceptibility SNPs was available in 43 Cameroonian RA cases and 44 controls. The minor allele frequencies (MAF) were tightly correlated between Cameroonian controls and YRI individuals (correlation coefficient 93.8%, p=1.7E-13), and they were pooled together. There was no correlation between MAF of UK and African controls; 13 markers differed by more than 20%. The MAF for markers at PTPN22, IL2RA, FCGR2A and IL2/IL21 was below 2% in Africans. The GRS showed a strong association with RA in the UK. However, the GRS did not predict RA in Africans (OR=0.71, 95% CI 0.29 - 1.74, p=0.456). Random sampling from the UK cohort showed that this difference in association is unlikely to be explained by small sample size or chance, but is statistically significant with p<0.001. CONCLUSIONS: The MAF of non-HLA Caucasian RA susceptibility SNPs are different between Caucasians and Africans and several polymorphisms are barely detectable in West/Central Africa. The genetic risk of developing RA conferred by a set of 28 Caucasian susceptibility SNPs is significantly different between the UK and Africa with p<0.001. Taken together, these observations strengthen the hypothesis that the genetic architecture of RA susceptibility is different in different ethnic backgrounds.

Concepts: Genetics, Allele, Sample size, Rheumatoid arthritis, Single-nucleotide polymorphism, Genetic genealogy, Genotyping, Minor allele frequency


INTRODUCTION: Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a fraction of plasma in which several growth factors are concentrated at high levels. The active soluble releasate isolated following platelet activation of PRP (PRP-releasate) has been demonstrated to stimulate the metabolism of IVD cells in vitro. The in vivo effect of PRP-releasate on degenerated IVD remains unknown. The purpose of this study was to determine the reparative effects of autologous PRP-releasate on degenerated intervertebral discs (IVDs). METHODS: To induce disc degeneration, New Zealand white rabbits (n=12) received anular puncture in two noncontiguous discs. Autologous PRP and PPP (platelet-poor plasma) were isolated from fresh blood using two centrifugation techniques. Four weeks after the initial puncture, releasate isolated from clotted PPP or PRP (PPP- or PRP-releasate), or phosphate-buffered saline (PBS; control) was injected into the punctured discs. Disc height, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) T2-mapping and histology were assessed. RESULTS: Anular puncture produced a consistent disc narrowing within four weeks. PRP-releasate induced a statistically significant restoration of disc height (PRP vs. PPP and PBS, p<0.05). In T2-quantification, the mean T2-values of the nucleus pulposus (NP) and anulus fibrosus (AF) of the discs were not significantly different among the three treatment groups. Histologically, the number of chondrocyte-like cells was significantly higher in the discs injected with PRP-releasate compared to that with PBS. CONCLUSIONS: The administration of active PRP-releasate induced a reparative effect on rabbit degenerated IVDs. The results of this study suggest that the use of autologous PRP-releasate is safe and can lead to a clinical application for IVD degeneration.

Concepts: Spinal disc herniation, Statistical significance, In vivo, Nuclear magnetic resonance, Magnetic resonance imaging, In vitro, Intervertebral disc, Rabbit


Common variable immunodeficiency (CVID) describes a heterogeneous subset of hypogammaglobulinemias of unknown etiology. Typically, patients present with recurrent bacterial infections of the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract. A significant proportion of CVID patients develops additional autoimmune, inflammatory or lymphoproliferative complications. CVID is the most frequent symptomatic primary immunodeficiency encountered in adults. Informative monogenetic defects have been found in single patients and families but in most cases the pathogenesis is still elusive. Numerous immunological studies have demonstrated phenotypic and functional abnormalities of T cells, B cells and antigen-presenting cells. A hallmark is the impaired memory B-cell formation that has been taken advantage of for classifying CVID patients. Clinical multi-center studies have demonstrated a correlation between immunological markers and clinical presentation. Long-term outcome is significantly influenced by delay of diagnosis and treatment and the presence of chronic inflammatory complications. While immunoglobulin replacement therapy plus antibiotics can control infections in most cases, patients with non-infectious inflammatory complications such as granulomatous inflammation, interstitial lung disease, inflammatory bowel disease, lymphoproliferation and developing malignancies still represent a therapeutic challenge. In this review we provide a systematic overview of the immunological, clinical, diagnostic and therapeutic aspects of CVID and highlight recent developments in these fields.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Lymphocyte, Protein, Medicine, Bacteria, Immunodeficiency, Primary immunodeficiency


INTRODUCTION: Smoking increases the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and affects the severity of established RA. Smoking can impact on Th17 lymphocyte differentiation and function through activation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR), a process with implications for the pathogenic mechanisms in RA that involve the cytokine, interleukin (IL)-17A. The objective of this study was to establish any effect of smoking on the inflammatory tissue lesions of rheumatoid arthritis via the AHR and IL-17A. METHODS: Twenty synovial and eighteen subcutaneous nodule tissue samples from 31 patients with RA were studied. Patient smoking status at the time of tissue collection was established. Expression of AHR, CYP1A1, AHRR, IL6, IL17A, IL17F, IL22, IL23, IL23R, IFNG, TBX21, IDO1 and FOXP3 genes were assessed in tissues and cultured cells using real-time PCR. Two-colour immunofluorescence was used to co-localise AHR and CYP1A1 protein in synovial tissues. The response of monocytes and monocyte-derived dendritic cells (mo-DCs) to the AHR agonist, benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) was compared in vitro. RESULTS: AHR gene expression was demonstrated in rheumatoid synovial tissues and nodules with significantly greater expression in synovia. Expression was not influenced by smoking in either tissue. Evidence of AHR activation, indicated by CYP1A1 and AHRR gene expression, was found only in synovia from patients who smoked. However, IL17A gene expression was lower in synovia from smokers. TBX21 and FOXP3 expression was not affected by smoking. Within the synovial tissues of smokers the principal cell type with evidence of AHR activation was a subset of synovial DCs. This observation was consistent with the sensitivity of human mo-DCs to BaP stimulation demonstrated in vitro. Exposure to BaP affected mo-DC function as demonstrated by decreased IL6 expression induced by PolyI:C, without affecting indoleamine 2,3 dioxygenase (IDO)1 expression. CONCLUSION: Our findings show that one effect of smoking on inflamed rheumatoid synovial tissue involves activation of the AHR pathway. A subset of synovial DCs are important in the response to cigarette smoke. The potential for smoking to affect DC behaviour in joint tissues has relevance to both early and late phases of RA pathogenesis and warrants further investigation.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, DNA, Gene, Gene expression, Rheumatoid arthritis, Cellular differentiation, Dendritic cell


IntroductionDuring the progression of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), there are frequent but intermittent flares in which the joint becomes acutely inflamed and painful. Although a number of drug therapies are currently used to treat RA, their effectiveness is variable and side effects are common. Endocannabinoids have the potential to ameliorate joint pain and inflammation, but these beneficial effects are limited by their rapid degradation. One enzyme responsible for endocannabinoid break down is fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). The present study examined whether URB597, a potent and selective FAAH inhibitor, could alter inflammation and pain in a mouse model of acute synovitis.MethodsAcute joint inflammation was induced in male C57BL/6 mice by intra-articular injection of 2% kaolin/ 2% carrageenan. After 24 hr, articular leukocyte kinetics and blood flow were used as measures of inflammation, while hindlimb weight bearing and von Frey hair algesiometry were used as measures of joint pain. The effects of local URB597 administration were then determined in the presence or absence of either the cannabinoid (CB)1 receptor antagonist AM251, or the CB2 receptor antagonist AM630.ResultsURB597 decreased leukocyte rolling and adhesion, as well as inflammation-induced hyperaemia. However, these effects were only apparent at low doses and the effects of URB597 were absent at higher doses. In addition to the anti-inflammatory effects of URB597, fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) inhibition improved both hindlimb weight bearing and von Frey hair withdrawal thresholds. The anti-inflammatory effects of URB597 on leukocyte rolling and vascular perfusion were blocked by both CB1 and CB2 antagonism, while the effect on leukocyte adherence was independent of cannabinoid receptor activation. The analgesic effects of URB597 were CB1 mediated.ConclusionsThese results suggest that the endocannabinoid system of the joint can be harnessed to decrease acute inflammatory reactions and the concomitant pain associated with these episodes.

Concepts: Inflammation, Rheumatoid arthritis, Knee, Pain, Anti-inflammatory, Cannabinoid receptor, Tetrahydrocannabinol, Cannabis