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Am J Pathol. 2002 Mar;160(3):917-26.

Differing roles for urokinase and tissue-type plasminogen activator in collagen-induced arthritis.

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Arthritis and Inflammation Research Center, University of Melbourne, Department of Medicine, Victoria, Australia.


The plasminogen activators, urokinase PA (u-PA) and tissue-type PA (t-PA), are believed to play important roles in inflammatory cell infiltration, fibrin deposition, and joint destruction associated with rheumatoid arthritis; however, their precise roles in such processes, particularly u-PA, have yet to be defined. Using gene-deficient mice we examined the relative contribution of the PAs to the chronic systemic collagen-induced arthritis model. Based on clinical and histological assessments, u-PA-/- mice developed significantly milder disease and t-PA-/- mice more severe disease compared with the relevant wild-type mice. Fibrin deposition within joints paralleled disease severity and was particularly pronounced in t-PA-/- mice. Likewise, cytokine levels in the synovium reflected the severity of disease, with interleukin-1beta levels in particular being lower in u-PA-/- mice and increased in t-PA-/- mice. The antibody response to type II collagen was normal in both knockouts; however, T cells from u-PA-/- mice had a reduced proliferative response and produced less interferon-gamma on antigen stimulation in vitro. These results indicate that the major effect of u-PA in the collagen-induced arthritis model is deleterious, whereas that of t-PA is protective. Our data highlight the complexities of PA function, and suggest that approaches either to target u-PA or to enhance local t-PA activity in joints may be of therapeutic benefit in rheumatoid arthritis.

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