Interleukin-18 induces the production of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts via AP-1-dependent pathways

Mi-La Cho, Young Ok Jung, Young-Mi Moon, So-Youn Min, Chong-Hyeon Yoon, Sang-Heon Lee, Sung-Hwan Park, Chul-Soo Cho, Dae-Myung Jue, Ho-Youn Kim
Immunology Letters 2006 March 15, 103 (2): 159-66
Interleukin-18 (IL-18) is a novel pro-inflammatory cytokine which has been implicated to play a pathogenic role in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) plays an important role in angiogenesis in rheumatoid synoviocytes. In present study, we examined the effect of IL-18 on VEGF production in fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) isolated from the patients with RA. FLS were prepared from the synovial tissues of patients with RA and osteoarthritis (OA) and cultured in the presence of IL-18. The production of VEGF from FLS was measured in culture supernatants by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The VEGF messenger RNA (mRNA) expression and AP-1 binding activity of VEGF transcript were determined by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA). IL-18 and VEGF levels of sera and synovial fluids (SF) of RA patients (n=30) were significantly higher than those of OA patients (n=20). IL-18 dose-dependently increased the production of VEGF. The effect of IL-18 on VEGF production appeared to be as potent as IL-1beta, whereas tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha and interferon (IFN)-gamma showed little effects on VEGF production. AP-1-specific inhibitor Curcumin dose-dependently abrogated the effect of IL-18 on VEGF production. The VEGF enhancement of IL-18 was associated with increased AP-1 binding activity to the VEGF promoter site. These findings suggest IL-18 as an angiogenic factor in RA and down-regulation of IL-18 activity or AP-1 signal pathway can be potential therapeutic targets for RA.

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