Objectives The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of the novel Janus kinase inhibitor CP-690,550 in fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs) from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods RA FLSs were isolated from tissue obtained by arthroplasty, cultured and serum-starved 48 h prior to stimulation. Messenger RNA and protein levels were determined by quantitative PCR and ELISA or multiplex bead assay, respectively. Phosphorylation of STAT (signal transducers and activators of transcription) proteins was determined by western blot.
Results Interleukin-6-induced phosphorylation of STAT1 and STAT3 was inhibited by CP-690,550 with IC50 values of 23 and 77 nM, respectively. Unexpectedly, although tumour necrosis factor (TNF) did not induce immediate phosphorylation of either STAT, CP-690,550 inhibited TNF-induced expression of several chemokines (IP-10, RANTES and MCP1) at the messenger RNA and protein levels. Chemokine expression was inhibited by cycloheximide, implying a need for de novo protein synthesis, and cycloheximide abolished the effect of CP-690,550 (tofacitinib). TNF induced early interferon (IFN) β expression and STAT1 phosphorylation beginning at 3 h, which was blocked by CP-690,550. The dependence of TNF-induced chemokine expression on type I IFN was confirmed in FLSs from mice lacking type I IFN receptors (IFNARs) and in RA FLSs using an IFNAR blocking antibody.
Conclusions The Janus kinase/STAT pathway in FLS is indirectly activated by TNF through autocrine expression of type I IFN, resulting in IFNAR engagement and production of T cell chemokines. These findings illuminate a novel role of CP-690,550 in the treatment of RA: the reduction of chemokine synthesis by FLS, thereby limiting recruitment of T cells and other infiltrating leucocytes.
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Funding This work was supported, in part, by a research funding from Pfizer, Inc. (DLB), as well as by the University of California, San Diego Clinical and Translational Research Institute. MPC is funded through the Arthritis Foundation.
Competing interests SR and MPC have no competing interests to declare. GSF is a consultant to Pfizer, Inc. DLB received research funding from Pfizer, Inc.
Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the University of California, San Diego Institutional Review Board.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.