Objective: To investigate the role of interleukin-4 (IL-4) and IL-10 in basal and IL-1- and IL-17-mediated inhibition of chondrocyte metabolism.
Methods: Cartilage explants of patellae from naive mice were incubated with IL-17 and/or IL-1 alone or were pretreated with IL-4 and IL-10. In addition, knee joints of naive mice were injected intraarticularly with IL-4 and IL-10 alone or were coinjected with IL-1. Chondrocyte proteoglycan (PG) synthesis was measured in intact murine articular cartilage. Levels of nitric oxide (NO) were measured using the Griess reagent.
Results: IL-17, a novel cytokine secreted by CD4+ activated memory T cells, inhibited chondrocyte PG synthesis in intact murine articular cartilage, although the suppressive effect was less potent than that of IL-1. The suppressive effect of IL-17 was completely abolished in the presence of L-NIO (L-NS-[1-iminoethyl]ornithine), an inhibitor of NO metabolism, and IL-17 only slightly induced inhibition of PG synthesis in cartilage explants of patellae from iNOS (inducible NO synthase) knockout mice. This indicates that the suppressive effect of IL-17 was mediated by NO. Pretreatment with IL-4, but not IL-10, significantly reduced the inhibition of chondrocyte PG synthesis induced by IL-1 or IL-17. The IL-4-induced reduction in the inhibitory effects of IL-1 and IL-17 on chondrocyte PG synthesis was accompanied by decreased NO formation in the culture supernatants.
Conclusion: IL-17 plays a role in the inhibition of chondrocyte PG synthesis. IL-4 and IL-10 have no effect on basal chondrocyte metabolism. However, IL-4-pretreated cartilage is less sensitive to the suppressive effect of IL-1 as well as IL-17. This suggests that IL-4 is protective in T cell-driven cartilage disturbances, probably through reduction of iNOS.