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Ann Rheum Dis. 2014 Feb;73(2):437-45. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-203643. Epub 2013 Aug 6.

Proof of concept: enthesitis and new bone formation in spondyloarthritis are driven by mechanical strain and stromal cells.

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  • 1Laboratory for Molecular Immunology and Inflammation, Department of Rheumatology, University Hospital, , Ghent, Belgium.



Spondyloarthritides (SpA) are characterised by both peripheral and axial arthritis. The hallmarks of peripheral SpA are the development of enthesitis, most typically of the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia, and new bone formation. This study was undertaken to unravel the mechanisms leading towards enthesitis and new bone formation in preclinical models of SpA.


First, we demonstrated that TNF(ΔARE) mice show typical inflammatory features highly reminiscent of SpA. The first signs of inflammation were found at the entheses. Importantly, enthesitis occurred equally in the presence or absence of mature T and B cells, underscoring the importance of stromal cells. Hind limb unloading in TNF(ΔARE) mice significantly suppressed inflammation of the Achilles tendon compared with weight bearing controls. Erk1/2 signalling plays a crucial role in mechanotransduction-associated inflammation. Furthermore, new bone formation is strongly promoted at entheseal sites by biomechanical stress and correlates with the degree of inflammation.


These findings provide a formal proof of the concept that mechanical strain drives both entheseal inflammation and new bone formation in SpA.


Fibroblasts; Inflammation; Spondyloarthritis

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