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Arthritis Rheum. 1999 Sep;42(9):1936-45.

Induction of alpha1-antitrypsin synthesis in human articular chondrocytes by interleukin-6-type cytokines: evidence for a local acute-phase response in the joint.

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Universitätsklinikum der Rheinische-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen, Germany.



We have previously shown that human articular chondrocytes synthesize large amounts of interleukin-6 (IL-6) upon stimulation with proinflammatory cytokines and that they express the IL-6 receptor. The present study was undertaken to analyze whether different IL-6-type cytokines can induce synthesis of the acute-phase protein alpha1-antitrypsin in human articular chondrocytes.


Chondrocytes from human articular cartilage, cultured in agarose, were stimulated with IL-6-type cytokines. Total RNA was isolated and analyzed by Northern blotting. Levels of alpha1-antitrypsin protein were determined by enzyme immunoassay.


Stimulation of chondrocytes with oncostatin M (OSM) and IL-6 led to a 5-10-fold increase in alpha1-antitrypsin synthesis. This increase was dose and time dependent. Furthermore, OSM and IL-6 induced IL-6 synthesis in chondrocytes, resulting in an autocrine amplification loop.


Our data strongly suggest the existence of a local acute-phase response in the joint. Synthesis of the acute-phase protein alpha1-antitrypsin, a major inhibitor of serine proteinases, may be an important protective mechanism of articular chondrocytes to prevent cartilage damage in inflammatory joint diseases.

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