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J Cell Mol Med. 2011 Apr;15(4):756-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1582-4934.2010.01051.x.

Microparticles stimulate angiogenesis by inducing ELR(+) CXC-chemokines in synovial fibroblasts.

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Department for Internal Medicine 3 and Institute for Clinical Immunology, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany.


Microparticles (MPs) are small membrane-vesicles that accumulate in the synovial fluids of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In the arthritic joints, MPs induce a pro-inflammatory and invasive phenotype in synovial fibroblasts (SFs). The present study investigated whether activation of SFs by MPs stimulates angiogenesis in the inflamed joints of patients with RA. MPs were isolated from Jurkat cells and U937 cells by differential centrifugation. SFs were co-cultured with increasing numbers of MPs. The effects of supernatants from co-cultures on endothelial cells were studied in vitro and in vivo using MTT assays, annexin V and propidium iodide staining, trans-well migration assays and modified matrigel pouch assays. MPs strongly induced the expression of the pro-angiogenic ELR⁺ chemokines CXCL1, CXCL2, CXCL3, CXCL5 and CXCL6 in RASFs. Other vascular growth factors were not induced. Supernatants from co-cultures enhanced the migration of endothelial cells, which could be blocked by neutralizing antibodies against ELR⁺ chemokines. Consistent with the specific induction of ELR⁺ chemokines, proliferation and viability of endothelial cells were not affected by the supernatants. In the in vivo bio-chamber assay, supernatants from RASFs co-cultured with MPs stimulated angiogenesis with a significant increase of vessels infiltrating into the matrigel chamber. We demonstrated that MPs activate RASFs to release pro-angiogenic ELR⁺ chemokines. These pro-angiogenic mediators enhance migration of endothelial cells and stimulate the formation of new vessels. Our data suggest that MPs may contribute to the hypervascularization of inflamed joints in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

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