Natural killer-22 cells in the synovial fluid of patients with rheumatoid arthritis are an innate source of interleukin 22 and tumor necrosis factor-α

Jie Ren, Zhitao Feng, Zhuo Lv, Xiaoguang Chen, Juan Li
Journal of Rheumatology 2011, 38 (10): 2112-8

OBJECTIVE: To determine the role of natural killer (NK)-22 cells in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

METHODS: Using flow cytometry, the proportions of NK-22 cells and intracellular contents of perforin, granzyme B, and interferon-γ (IFN-γ) were determined in the peripheral blood (PB) and synovial fluid (SF) of patients with RA and healthy individuals. The levels of interleukin 22 (IL-22) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) in the NK-22 supernatant and gene expressions were measured using ELISA and QuantiGene Plex assay, respectively. The effect of NK-22 supernatant on the proliferation of fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) and recombinant human IL-22 (rhIL-22) on the production of monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1) by RA FLS was detected using the yellow tetrazolium salt method and ELISA, respectively. The relationship between the proportions of NK-22 cells and disease activity was analyzed.

RESULTS: NKp44 and CCR6 were expressed in a larger population of SF NK cells than in the PB NK cells of patients with RA. NK-22 cells produce low content of perforin, granzyme B, and IFN-γ. NK-22 cells in vitro can secrete IL-22 and TNF-α and there was increased messenger RNA coding for IL-22 and TNF-α. NK-22 supernatant can induce the proliferation of RA FLS. Addition of IL-22 antibody plus TNF-α antibody inhibited the proliferation of FLS induced by the NK-22 supernatant. Both rhIL-22 1 ng/ml and rhIL-22 10 ng/ml induced the production of MCP-1 by RA FLS. The NK-22 proportions were positively correlated with disease activity.

CONCLUSION: NK-22 cells are increased in patients with RA and might play a role in the pathogenesis of RA through the production of IL-22 and TNF-α. The proportion of NK-22 cells and disease activity were highly correlated.

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