Previous work has shown that renal metabolism of 25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (25(OH)D3) to the active metabolite, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25(OH)2D3) is stimulated by prostaglandin E2 and inhibited by acetylsalicylate (aspirin). As prostaglandins are primary inflammatory mediators and synovial fluid macrophages are known to synthesise 1,25(OH)2D3 in vitro, the effects of prostaglandin E1, prostaglandin E2, and aspirin on the metabolism of 25(OH)D3 by cells cultured from synovial fluid of patients with inflammatory arthritis were investigated. Most cultures contained non-proliferating macrophages which formed 1,25(OH)2D3; however, two of 13 cultures contained colonies of rapidly proliferating fibroblast-like cells which formed 24,25(OH)2D3 (24,25(OH)2D3). Prostaglandin E1 and prostaglandin E2 (0.01-10 mumol/l) induced marked inhibition of 1,25(OH)2D3 synthesis (up to 94%) in a dose dependent manner after preincubations of 24 hours but not over straightforward six hour incubations. Exposure of macrophages to aspirin (1 mumol/l-1 mmol/l) for 24 hours did not affect 1,25(OH)2D3 synthesis unless the cells had been pretreated with lipopolysaccharides, in which instance 1 mM aspirin increased 1,25(OH)2D3 synthesis. Lipopolysaccharide is a macrophage activating factor which stimulates macrophages to form 1,25(OH)2D3, and it also induces prostaglandin synthesis which would be inhibited by aspirin. Taken together these results suggest that prostaglandin E1 and prostaglandin E2 synthesised by macrophages may act in an autocrine manner to attenuate the ability of macrophage activating factors, such as lipopolysaccharide, to stimulate 1,25(OH)2D3 synthesis. Prostaglandins synthesised by other inflammatory cells may also inhibit 1,25(OH)2D3 synthesis in a paracrine manner. In contrast, prostaglandin E2 and aspirin had limited effects on fibroblast 24,25(OH)2D3 synthesis. This study shows that the effects of prostaglandin E1, prostaglandin E2, and aspirin in macrophages contrast with those previously reported for the renal 25(OH)D3-1alpha-hydroxylase, where prostaglandin E2 stimulated and aspirin inhibited enzyme activity. These results further emphasise that synthesis of 1,25(OH)2D3 in non-renal sites is independently regulated, which is consistent with it having an immunological role at a local level rather than playing a part in systemic calcium homeostasis.
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