We have previously shown that p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) inhibitors, which block the production and action of inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and interleukin-1 (IL-1), are effective in models of bone and cartilage degradation. To further investigate the role of p38 MAPK, we have studied its activation in osteoblasts and chondrocytes, following treatment with a panel of proinflammatory and osteotropic agents. In osteoblasts, significant activation of p38 MAPK was observed following treatment with IL-1 and TNF, but not parathyroid hormone, transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta), 1,25(OH)(2)D(3), insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), or IGF-II. Similar results were obtained using primary bovine chondrocytes and an SV40-immortalized human chondrocyte cell line, T/C28A4. SB 203580, a selective inhibitor of p38 MAPK, inhibited IL-1 and TNF-induced p38 MAPK activity and IL-6 production (IC(50)s 0.3--0.5 microM) in osteoblasts and chondrocytes. In addition, IL-1 and TNF also activated p38 MAPK in fetal rat long bones and p38 MAPK inhibitors inhibited IL-1- and TNF-stimulated bone resorption in vitro in a dose-dependent manner (IC(50)s 0.3--1 microM). These data support the contention that p38 MAPK plays a central role in regulating the production of, and responsiveness to, proinflammatory cytokines in bone and cartilage. Furthermore, the strong correlation between inhibition of kinase activity and IL-1 and TNF-stimulated biological responses indicates that selective inhibition of the p38 MAPK pathway may have therapeutic utility in joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.