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J Immunol. 2003 Mar 1;170(5):2655-62.

IL-17 promotes bone erosion in murine collagen-induced arthritis through loss of the receptor activator of NF-kappa B ligand/osteoprotegerin balance.

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Rheumatology and Advanced Therapeutics, University Medical Center Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


IL-17 is a T cell-derived proinflammatory cytokine in experimental arthritis and is a stimulator of osteoclastogenesis in vitro. In this study, we report the effects of IL-17 overexpression (AdIL-17) in the knee joint of type II collagen-immunized mice on bone erosion and synovial receptor activator of NF-kappa B ligand (RANKL)/receptor activator of NF-kappa B/osteoprotegerin (OPG) expression. Local IL-17 promoted osteoclastic bone destruction, which was accompanied with marked tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase activity at sites of bone erosion in cortical, subchondral, and trabecular bone. Accelerated expression of RANKL and its receptor, receptor activator of NF-kappa B, was found in the synovial infiltrate and at sites of focal bone erosion, using specific immunohistochemistry. Interestingly, AdIL-17 not only enhanced RANKL expression but also strongly up-regulated the RANKL/OPG ratio in the synovium. Comparison of arthritic mice from the AdIL-17 collagen-induced arthritis group with full-blown collagen-arthritic mice having similar clinical scores for joint inflammation revealed lower RANKL/OPG ratio and tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase activity in the latter group. Interestingly, systemic OPG treatment prevented joint damage induced by local AdIL-17 gene transfer in type II collagen-immunized mice. These findings suggest T cell IL-17 to be an important inducer of RANKL expression leading to loss of the RANKL/OPG balance, stimulating osteoclastogenesis and bone erosion in arthritis.

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