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J Immunol. 1999 Feb 1;162(3):1772-9.

Integrin engagement regulates proliferation and collagenase expression of rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Arthritis Center, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02118, USA.


Growth of and metalloproteinase production by fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) contribute to cartilage and bone destruction associated with development of the expanding inflammatory tissue referred to as pannus. Increased levels of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins in the pannus suggest that intracellular signals generated through integrin receptors might control these processes. We developed a cell culture system permitting accurate assessment of the effect of cell adhesion to various ECM proteins on FLS phenotype. We show that FLS proliferation to platelet-derived growth factor requires a second signal provided by adhesion to an ECM protein. Fibronectin, vitronectin, collagen, or laminin could provide the second signal and was similarly required for the proliferation of FLSs from RA or osteoarthritis patients. Adhesion to fibronectin, collagen, or Arg-Gly-Asp peptide down-regulated collagenase expression. Primarily alphav integrin receptors mediated this down-regulation upon adhesion to fibronectin. Loss of cell adhesion and TNF-alpha stimulation synergistically increased collagenase expression. Increased collagenase expression upon nonadherence was mimicked by treatment with cytochalasin B, suggesting that the loss of cytoskeletal structure associated with a change in cell shape mediates increased collagenase in nonadherent cells. Thus, although increased fibronectin in the lining layer in RA might be expected to inhibit collagenase expression, the change in cell shape associated with this multilayer structure might actually lead to increased collagenase expression.

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