Objective To test the hypothesis that Notch signalling plays a role in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and to determine whether pharmacological inhibition of Notch signalling with γ-secretase inhibitors can ameliorate the RA disease process in an animal model.
Methods Collagen-induced arthritis was induced in C57BL/6 or Notch antisense transgenic mice by immunisation with chicken type II collagen (CII). C57BL/6 mice were administered with different doses of inhibitors of γ-secretase, an enzyme required for Notch activation, at disease onset or after onset of symptoms. Severity of arthritis was monitored by clinical and histological scores, and in vivo non-invasive near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) images. Micro-CT was used to confirm joint destruction. The levels of CII antibodies and cytokines in serum were determined by ELISA and bead-based cytokine assay. The expression levels of cytokines were studied by quantitative PCR in rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts.
Results The data show that Notch signalling stimulates synoviocytes and accelerates their production of proinflammatory cytokines and immune responses involving the upregulation of IgG1 and IgG2a. Pharmacological inhibition of γ-secretase and antisense-mediated knockdown of Notch attenuates the severity of inflammatory arthritis, including arthritis indices, paw thickness, tissue damage and neutrophil infiltration, and reduces the levels of active NF-κB, ICAM-1, proinflammatory cytokines and matrix metalloproteinase-3 activity in the mouse model of RA.
Conclusions These results suggest that Notch is involved in the pathogenesis of RA and that inhibition of Notch signalling is a novel approach for treating RA.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis