Human osteoarthritic cartilage shows reduced in vivo expression of IL-4, a chondroprotective cytokine that differentially modulates IL-1β-stimulated production of chemokines and matrix-degrading enzymes in vitro

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Abstract

Background: In osteoarthritis (OA), an inflammatory environment is responsible for the imbalance between the anabolic and catabolic activity of chondrocytes and, thus, for articular cartilage derangement. This study was aimed at providing further insight into the impairment of the anabolic cytokine IL-4 and its receptors in human OA cartilage, as well as the potential ability of IL-4 to antagonize the catabolic phenotype induced by IL-1β. Methodology/Principal Findings: The in vivo expression of IL-4 and IL-4 receptor subunits (IL-4R, IL-2Rγ, IL-13Rα1) was investigated on full thickness OA or normal knee cartilage. IL-4 expression was found to be significantly lower in OA, both in terms of the percentage of positive cells and the amount of signal per cell. IL-4 receptor type I and II were mostly expressed in mid-deep cartilage layers. No significant difference for each IL-4 receptor subunit was noted. IL-4 anti-inflammatory and anti-catabolic activity was assessed in vitro in the presence of IL-1β and/or IL-4 for 24 hours using differentiated high density primary OA chondrocyte also exhibiting the three IL-4 R subunits found in vivo. Chemokines, extracellular matrix degrading enzymes and their inhibitors were evaluated at mRNA (real time PCR) and protein (ELISA or western blot) levels. IL-4 did not affect IL-1β-induced mRNA expression of GRO-α/CXCL1, IL-8/CXCL8, ADAMTS-5, TIMP-1 or TIMP-3. Conversely, IL-4 significantly inhibited RANTES/CCL5, MIP-1α/CCL3, MIP-1β/CCL4, MMP-13 and ADAMTS-4. These results were confirmed at protein level for RANTES/CCL5 and MMP-13. Conclusions/Significance: Our results indicate for the first time that OA cartilage has a significantly lower expression of IL-4. Furthermore, we found differences in the spectrum of biological effects of IL-4. The findings that IL-4 has the ability to hamper the IL-1β-induced release of both MMP-13 and CCL5/RANTES, both markers of OA chondrocytes, strongly indicates IL-4 as a pivotal anabolic cytokine in cartilage whose impairment impacts on OA pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere96925
JournalPLoS One
Volume9
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 12 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

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