by Fei Bao, Pei Wu, Na Xiao, Frank Qiu, Qing-Ping Zeng
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory articular disease with cartilage and bone damage due to hyperplasic synoviocyte invasion and subsequent matrix protease digestion. Although monoclonal antibodies against tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFa) have been approved for clinical use in patients with RA, desired therapeutic regimens suitable for non-responders are still unavailable because etiological initiators leading to RA remain enigmatic and unidentified. Methodology/Principal Findings
Bacteria-induced arthritis (BIA) that simulates collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) is developed in mice upon daily live bacterial feeding. The morphological lesions of paw erythema and edema together with the histological alterations of synovial hyperplasia and lymphocytic infiltration emerge as the early-phase manifestations of BIA and CIA. Bacteria- or collagen-mediated global upregulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines is accompanied by the burst of nitric oxide (NO). Elevation of the serum NO level is correlated with decline of the blood oxygen saturation percentage (SpO2), reflecting a hypoxic consequence during development towards arthritis. NO-driven hypoxia is further evident from a positive relationship between NO and lactic acid (LA), an end product from glycolysis. Upregulation of hypoxia inducible factor 1 alpha (HIF-1a) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) validates hypoxia-induced angiogenesis in the inflamed synovium of modeling mice. Administration of the NO donor compound sodium nitroprusside (SNP) causes articular inflammation by inducing synovial hypoxia. Anti-bacteria by the antibiotic cefotaxime and/or the immunosuppressant rapamycin or artesunate that also inhibits nitric oxide synthase (NOS) can abrogate NO production, mitigate hypoxia, and considerably ameliorate or even completely abort synovitis, hence highlighting that NO may serve as an initiator of inflammatory arthritis. Conclusions/Significance
Like collagen, bacteria also enable synovial lesions via upregulating pro-inflammatory cytokines, triggering NO production, driving hypoxic responses, and inducing synovial angiogenesis and hyperplasia, suggesting that sustained infection might be, in part, responsible for the onset of synovitis and arthritis in mice.