Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic disorder characterized by synovial inflammation and subsequent destruction and deformity of synovial joints. The articular lesions start with synovitis, focal erosion of unmineralized cartilage, and then culminate in the destruction of subarticular bone by pannus tissue. Periarticular osteopenia and systemic osteoporosis follow as late complications of RA. Osteoclasts, specialized cells that resorb bone, play a central role in developing these osteolytic lesions. To elucidate the mechanism of osteoclastogenesis and bone destruction in autoimmune arthritis, we investigated the expression of RANK ligand (RANKL), RANK, and osteoprotegerin (OPG) mRNA in a mouse type II collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) model by in situ hybridization. The results indicated that most of the TRAP-positive mono- and multinucleated cells in the inflamed and proliferating synovium and in the pannus were RANK-positive authentic osteoclasts and their precursors. In the inflamed synovium and pannus of the mouse CIA model, synovial fibroblastic cells around these RANK-positive cells were strongly positive for RANKL. Moreover, RANKL-positive osteoblasts on the endosteal bone surface, at a distance from the affected synovial joints, increased significantly in the mouse CIA model prior to periarticular osteopenia and systemic osteoporosis. These data indicated that the RANKL-RANK system plays an important role for osteoclastogenesis in both local and systemic osteolytic lesions in autoimmune arthritis, and can therefore be a good target for therapeutic intervention.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Medical Laboratory Technology
- Cell Biology