We recently found that acidic β2-microglobulin (β2m), a major isoform of β2m in amyloid fibrils of patients with dialysis-related amyloidosis (DRA), contained early Amadori prod ucts and advanced glycation end products (AGEs) formed nonenzymatically between sugar and protein. Further analysis revealed that acidic β2m induces monocyte chemotaxis and macrophage secretion of bone-resorbing cytokines, suggesting the involvement of acidic β2m in the pathogenesis of DRA. Acidic β2m, however, is a mixture of heterogeneous molecular adducts due to various types of modification. In the present study, we investigated the modification responsible for the biological activity of acidic β2m toward monocytes/macrophages. The presence of a fair amount of β2m species with deamidation was detected in acidic β2m isolated from urine of non-diabetic long-term hemodialysis patients, but deamidated β2m had no biological activity. In contrast, normal β2m acquired the activity upon incubation with glucose in vitro. Among the glycated β2m, the pigmented and fluorescent β2m that formed after a long incubation period, that is, AGE-modified β2m, exhibited biological activity, whereas p,m modified with Amadori products, major Maillard products in acidic β2m, had no such activity. These findings suggest that AGEs, although only a minor constituent of acidic β2m, are responsible for monocyte chemotaxis and macrophage secretion of cytokines, implicating the contribution of AGEs to bone and joint destruction in DRA.
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