Objective: To investigate the features of synovial stromal cells established from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and to define these cells as nurse cells.
Methods: Synovial nurse-like stromal cell lines (RA-SNCs) were established from patients with RA. These cell lines were examined for morphology, pseudoemperipolesis activity, cell surface markers, and cytokine production. The interaction between these RA-SNCs and a synovial tissue B cell clone was also examined.
Results: RA-SNCs had nurse cell activity. They spontaneously produced interleukin-6 (IL-6), IL-8, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor. Furthermore, they produced IL-1beta and tumor necrosis factor alpha and expressed higher levels of the other cytokines after coculture with the B cell clone. Proliferation and Ig production by the B cell clone were dependent on direct contact with RA-SNCs.
Conclusion: These results indicate that the RA-SNCs were nurse cells. The findings suggest that RA-SNCs may play an important role in the pathogenesis of RA by producing large amounts of cytokines and maintaining infiltrating lymphocytes.