Involvement of MAPKs and NF-kappaB in tumor necrosis factor alpha-induced vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 expression in human rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts

Shue-Fen Luo, Rou-Yi Fang, Hsi-Lung Hsieh, Pei-Ling Chi, Chih-Chung Lin, Li-Der Hsiao, Chi-Chuan Wu, Jong-Shyan Wang, Chuen-Mao Yang
Arthritis and Rheumatism 2010, 62 (1): 105-16

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the roles of MAPKs and NF-kappaB in tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha)-induced expression of vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1) in human rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts (RASFs).

METHODS: Human RASFs were isolated from synovial tissue obtained from patients with RA who underwent knee or hip surgery. The involvement of MAPKs and NF-kappaB in TNFalpha-induced VCAM-1 expression was investigated using pharmacologic inhibitors and transfection with short hairpin RNA (shRNA) and measured using Western blot, reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, and gene promoter assay. NF-kappaB translocation was determined by Western blot and immunofluorescence staining. The functional activity of VCAM-1 was evaluated by lymphocyte adhesion assay.

RESULTS: TNFalpha-induced VCAM-1 expression, phosphorylation of p42/p44 MAPK, p38 MAPK, and JNK, and translocation of NF-kappaB were attenuated by the inhibitors of MEK-1/2 (U0126), p38 (SB202190), JNK (SP600125), and NF-kappaB (helenalin) or by transfection with their respective shRNA. TNFalpha-stimulated translocation of NF-kappaB into the nucleus and NF-kappaB promoter activity were blocked by Bay11-7082, but not by U0126, SB202190, or SP600125. VCAM-1 promoter activity was enhanced by TNFalpha in RASFs transfected with VCAM-1-Luc, and this promoter activity was inhibited by Bay11-7082, U0126, SB202190, and SP600125. Moreover, up-regulation of VCAM-1 increased the adhesion of lymphocytes to the RASF monolayer, and this adhesion was attenuated by pretreatment with helenalin, U0126, SP600125, or SB202190 prior to exposure to TNFalpha or by anti-VCAM-1 antibody before the addition of lymphocytes.

CONCLUSION: In RASFs, TNFalpha-induced VCAM-1 expression is mediated through activation of the p42/p44 MAPK, p38 MAPK, JNK, and NF-kappaB pathways. These results provide new insights into the mechanisms underlying cytokine-initiated joint inflammation in RA and may inspire new targeted therapeutic approaches.

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