Objective: To evaluate the role of chondrocytes in producing CXC chemokines [interleukin 8 (IL-8), growth related gene product (GRO-alpha)] and CC chemokines [monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP-1), macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP-1alpha), RANTES] in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA) and subjects after traumatic injury (PT).
Methods: Articular cartilage specimens were obtained from 38 patients with OA and 18 with RA undergoing joint replacement surgery. Healthy human cartilage was obtained from femoral condyles removed after trauma in 11 subjects with no history of joint pathology (PT cases). Chondrocytes were isolated from articular cartilage by sequential enzymatic digestion and cultured in vitro. Chemokine production was investigated in unstimulated condition and after 72 h incubation with proinflammatory [IL-1beta, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha)] and antiinflammatory [transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-beta1), IL-10] mediators. Chemokine concentrations in cell supernatants were evaluated by ELISA.
Results: Chondrocytes produce all these chemokines to a different extent. IL-1beta was a more potent stimulus than TNF-alpha in inducing production of all chemokines except MCP-1. We found no statistical differences among chondrocytes isolated from OA, RA, and PT for chemokine production in either basal conditions or after cytokine stimulation. IL-1beta induced chemokine production can be modulated by TGF-beta1 in different ways according to the various chemokines, while IL-10 does not affect IL-1beta induced chemokine production.
Conclusion: Chondrocytes produce IL-8, GRO-alpha, MCP-1, MIP-1alpha, and RANTES. Proinflammatory factors (IL-1beta, TNF-alpha) effectively upregulate chemokine production, but production is scarcely modulated by the antiinflammatory mediators TGF-beta and IL-10. Chondrocyte derived chemokines may play a role in triggering the mechanisms involved in pathogenesis and persistence of joint diseases.