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Acute serum amyloid A regulates cytoskeletal rearrangement, cell matrix interactions and promotes cell migration in rheumatoid arthritis
  1. M Connolly1,
  2. D J Veale1,
  3. U Fearon1
  1. 1Department of Rheumatology, Dublin Academic Medical Centre and the Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Research, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ursula Fearon, Department of Rheumatology, Dublin Academic Medical Centre and the Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Research, University College Dublin, Dublin 4, Ireland; ursula.fearon{at}


Objective Serum amyloid A (A-SAA) is an acute-phase protein with cytokine-like properties implicated in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), atherosclerosis, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease. This study characterises the mechanism of A-SAA-induced cytoskeletal rearrangement and migration in synovial fibroblasts and microvascular endothelial cells (human dermal endothelial cells; HDEC).

Methods Immunohistology and immunofluorescence were used to examine αvβ3 and β1-integrins, filamentous actin (F-actin) and focal adhesion expression in rheumatoid arthritis synovial tissue (RAST) and rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblast cells (RASFC). A-SAA-induced αvβ3 and β1-integrin binding was measured by adhesion assay. Cytoskeletal rearrangement and ρ-GTPase activation following A-SAA stimulation was examined using dual immunofluorescent staining for F-actin/vinculin staining, pull down assays and immunoblotting for Cdc42 and RhoA. Cell growth, invasion/migration, angiogenesis and actin formation were examined in the presence or absence of specific Rac1 and Cdc42 inhibitors (NSC23766 and 187-1).

Results αvβ3, β1-integrin and F-actin predominantly localised to vascular endothelium and lining layer cells in RAST, compared with osteoarthritis and normal control synovial tissue. A-SAA significantly increased αvβ3 and β1 binding in RASFC. A-SAA induced cytoskeletal disassembly, loss of focal adhesions and filopodia formation in RASFC and HDEC. A-SAA significantly induced Cdc42 activation but failed to promote RhoA activation in HDEC and synovial fibroblast cells. Blockade of Rac-1 and Cdc42 inhibited A-SAA-induced cell growth, invasion/migration, actin cytoskeletal rearrangement and angiogenesis.

Conclusions These data show a novel mechanism for A-SAA-induced cell migrational events in RA mediated via cytoskeletal signalling pathways.

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki, and was approved by the St Vincent's University Hospital ethics committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.