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PLoS One. 2011;6(11):e27630. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0027630. Epub 2011 Nov 11.

Interleukin-6 synthesis in human chondrocytes is regulated via the antagonistic actions of prostaglandin (PG)E2 and 15-deoxy-Δ(12,14)-PGJ2.

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Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America.



Elevated levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), prostaglandin (PG)E(2), PGD(2) and its dehydration end product 15-deoxy-Δ(12,14)-PGJ(2) (15d-PGJ(2)) have been detected in joint synovial fluids from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). PGE(2) directly stimulates IL-6 production in human articular chondrocytes. However, the effects of PGD(2) and 15d-PGJ(2) in the absence or presence of PGE(2) on IL-6 synthesis in human chondrocytes have yet to be determined. It is believed that dysregulated overproduction of IL-6 is responsible for the systemic inflammatory manifestations and abnormal laboratory findings in RA patients.


Using the T/C-28a2 chondrocyte cell line as a model system, we report that exogenous PGE(2) and PGD(2)/15d-PGJ(2) exert antagonistic effects on IL-6 synthesis in human T/C-28a2 chondrocytes. Using a synthesis of sophisticated molecular biology techniques, we determined that PGE(2) stimulates Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) synthesis, which is in turn responsible for the activation of the ERK1/2, PI3K/Akt and PKA/CREB pathways that phosphorylate the NF-κB p65 subunit leading to NF-κB activation. Binding of the activated NF-κB p65 subunit to IL-6 promoter induces IL-6 synthesis in human T/C28a2 chondrocytes. PGD(2) or 15d-PGJ(2) concurrently downregulates TLR4 and upregulates caveolin-1, which in turn inhibit the PGE(2)-dependent ERK1/2, PI3-K and PKA activation, and ultimately with NF-κB-dependent IL-6 synthesis in chondrocytes.


We have delineated the signaling cascade by which PGE(2) and PGD(2)/15d-PGJ(2) exert opposing effects on IL-6 synthesis in human chondrocytes. Elucidation of the molecular pathway of IL-6 synthesis and secretion by chondrocytes will provide insights for developing strategies to reduce inflammation and pain in RA patients.

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