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Arthritis Res Ther. 2007;9(2):R25.

Differential expression of RANK, RANK-L, and osteoprotegerin by synovial fluid neutrophils from patients with rheumatoid arthritis and by healthy human blood neutrophils.

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  • 1Centre de Recherche en Rhumatologie et Immunologie, Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier de l'Université Laval, 2705 boulevard Laurier, Ste-Foy, QC G1V 4G2, Canada.


Functional links between bone remodeling and the immune system in chronic inflammatory arthritis are mediated, in part, by the ligand of receptor activator of nuclear factor-kappa-B (RANK-L). Because neutrophils play a crucial role in chronic inflammation, the goal of this study was to determine whether proteins of the RANK/RANK-L pathway are expressed by synovial fluid (SF) neutrophils from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and to characterize this pathway in normal human blood neutrophils. The expression of RANK-L, osteoprotegerin (OPG), RANK, and tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated factor 6 (TRAF6) was determined by polymerase chain reaction, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, Western blotting, and cytofluorometry. RANK signaling was analyzed by the degradation of inhibitor of kappaB-alpha (I-kappaB-alpha). SF neutrophils from patients with RA express and release OPG and express the membrane-associated forms of RANK-L and RANK. In contrast, normal blood neutrophils express only the membrane-associated form of RANK-L. They do not express the mRNAs encoding OPG and RANK. SF neutrophils from RA patients and normal blood neutrophils release no soluble RANK-L. They express the mRNA for TRAF6. The expression of OPG and RANK by normal human blood neutrophils, however, can be induced by interleukin-4 + tumor necrosis factor-alpha and by SFs from patients with RA. In contrast, SFs from patients with osteoarthritis do not induce the expression of OPG and RANK. Moreover, the addition of RANK-L to normal blood neutrophils pretreated by SF from patients with RA decreased I-kappaB-alpha, indicating that RANK signaling by neutrophils stimulated with SF is associated with nuclear factor-kappa-B activation. In summary, RANK-L is expressed by inflammatory and normal neutrophils, unlike OPG and RANK, which are expressed only by neutrophils exposed to an inflammatory environment. Taken together, these results suggest that neutrophils may contribute to bone remodeling at inflammatory sites where they are present in significantly large numbers.

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