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Asian Spine J. 2019 Jun;13(3):368-376. doi: 10.31616/asj.2018.0178. Epub 2019 Jan 29.

Angiopoietin-Like Protein 2 Induces Synovial Inflammation in the Facet Joint Leading to Degenerative Changes via Interleukin-6 Secretion.

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Department of Orthopaedics, Graduate School of Medical Science, Kumamoto University, Kumamoto, Japan.
Department of Molecular Genetics, Graduate School of Medical Science, Kumamoto University, Kumamoto, Japan.



Experimental human study.


To determine whether angiopoietin-like protein 2 (ANGPTL2) is highly expressed in the hyperplastic facet joint (FJ) synovium and whether it activates interleukin-6 (IL-6) secretion in FJ synoviocytes.


Mechanical stress-induced synovitis is partially, but significantly, responsible for degenerative and subsequently osteoarthritic changes in the FJ tissues in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS). However, the underlying molecular mechanism remains unclear. IL-6 is highly expressed in degenerative FJ synovial tissue and is responsible for local chronic inflammation. ANGPTL2, an inflammatory and mechanically induced mediator, promotes the expression of IL-6 in many cells.


FJ tissues were harvested from five patients who had undergone lumbar surgery. Immunohistochemistry for ANGPTL2, IL-6, and cell markers was performed in the FJ tissue samples. After cultured synoviocytes from the FJ tissues were subjected to mechanical stress, ANGPTL2 expression and secretion were measured quantitatively using real-time quantitative reverse-transcription-polymerase chain reaction and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), respectively. Following ANGPTL2 administration in the FJ synoviocytes, anti-nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) activation was investigated using immunocytochemistry, and IL-6 expression and secretion were assayed quantitatively with or without NF-κB inhibitor. Moreover, we assessed whether ANGPTL2-induced IL-6 modulates leucocyte recruitment in the degenerative process by focusing on the monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) expression.


ANGPTL2 and IL-6 were highly expressed in the hyperplastic FJ synovium samples. ANGPTL2 was co-expressed in both, fibroblast-like and macrophage-like synoviocytes. Further, the expression and secretion of ANGPTL2 in the FJ synoviocytes increased in response to stimulation by mechanical stretching. ANGPTL2 protein promoted the nuclear translocation of NF-κB and induced IL-6 expression and secretion in the FJ synoviocytes. This effect was reversed following treatment with NF-κB inhibitor. Furthermore, ANGPTL2-induced IL-6 upregulated the MCP-1 expression in the FJ synoviocytes.


Mechanical stress-induced ANGPTL2 promotes chronic inflammation in the FJ synovium by activating IL-6 secretion, leading to FJ degeneration and subsequent LSS.


Angiopoietin-like protein 2; Facet joint; Interleukin-6; Lumbar spinal stenosis; Synoviocytes

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