Objective: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is characterized by leukocyte recruitment and angiogenesis. We investigated the effects of sulfasalazine (SSZ) and its metabolites, sulfapyridine (SP) and 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA), on components of angiogenesis, namely, endothelial cell (EC) chemotaxis and proliferation, as well as on EC chemokine and soluble adhesion molecule expression.
Methods: SSZ, SP, and 5-ASA were assayed for their effects on basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF)-induced human dermal microvascular endothelial cell (HMVEC) chemotaxis and proliferation. EC were plated on Matrigel to assess the effect of SSZ on EC tube formation. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays were performed to determine changes in HMVEC production of interleukin-8 (IL-8), monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), growth-related oncogene alpha (GROalpha), epithelial neutrophil-activating peptide 78 (ENA-78), soluble E-selectin (sE-selectin), and soluble intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (sICAM-1) upon treatment with SSZ or its metabolites.
Results: HMVEC incubated with SSZ or SP exhibited reduced bFGF-induced chemotaxis (59%, [n = 7] and 22%, [n = 3], respectively) (P<0.05). SSZ and SP decreased basal HMVEC proliferation, while 5-ASA increased proliferation (P<0.05; [n = 5]). SSZ decreased bFGF-induced HMVEC proliferation (P<0.05 [n = 5]). SSZ inhibited phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate-induced HMVEC tube formation (P<0.05; [minimum n = 5]). Tumor necrosis factor alpha-stimulated HMVEC shedding of sICAM-1 was reduced by incubation with either SSZ (19%) or 5-ASA (23%) (P<0.05; [n = 6]). SP inhibited cytokine-stimulated HMVEC expression of IL-8 and MCP-1 (P<0.05; [n = 4]). Neither SSZ nor its metabolites had any effect on HMVEC production of sE-selectin, GROalpha, or ENA-78.
Conclusion: These results demonstrate that SSZ and its metabolite SP may affect the pathogenesis of RA by inhibiting EC chemotaxis, proliferation, tube formation, and expression of sICAM-1, IL-8, and MCP-1.