Heat shock protein 96 is elevated in rheumatoid arthritis and activates macrophages primarily via TLR2 signaling.
Macrophages are important mediators of chronic inflammation and are prominent in the synovial lining and sublining of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Recently, we demonstrated increased TLR2 and TLR4 expression and increased response to microbial TLR2 and TLR4 ligands in macrophages from the joints of RA. The current study characterized the expression of the 96-kDa heat shock glycoprotein (gp96) in the joints of RA and its role as an endogenous TLR ligand to promote innate immunity in RA. gp96 was increased in RA compared with osteoarthritis and arthritis-free control synovial tissues. The expression of gp96 strongly correlated with inflammation and synovial lining thickness. gp96 was increased in synovial fluid from the joints of RA compared with disease controls. Recombinant gp96 was a potent activator of macrophages and the activation was mediated primarily through TLR2 signaling. The cellular response to gp96 was significantly stronger with RA synovial macrophages compared with peripheral blood monocytes from RA or healthy controls. The transcription of TLR2, TNF-alpha, and IL-8, but not TLR4, was significantly induced by gp96, and the induction was significantly greater in purified RA synovial macrophages. The expression of TLR2, but not TLR4, on synovial fluid macrophages strongly correlated with the level of gp96 in the synovial fluid. The present study documents the potential role of gp96 as an endogenous TLR2 ligand in RA and provides insight into the mechanism by which gp96 promotes the chronic inflammation of RA, identifying gp96 as a potential new therapeutic target.
Huang, Q-Q; Sobkoviak, R; Jockheck-Clark, AR; Shi, B; Mandelin, AM; Tak, PP; Haines, GK; Nicchitta, CV; Pope, RM
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