The effect of cytokines on the expression of MHC antigens and ICAM-1 by normal and transformed synoviocytes

Autoimmunity. 1992;12(1):13-9. doi: 10.3109/08916939209146125.


We report the expression on synovial cells of cell surface molecules known to be involved in T cell activation by antigen presenting cells. Normal human synovial fibroblasts and a human synovial cell line transformed with the SV40 large T antigen were used for in vitro stimulation studies with recombinant cytokines. We demonstrate an increase in MHC-A, B, C expression in normal synovial cells in response to recombinant interferon gamma (r gamma IFN), tumour necrosis factor alpha and beta (rTNF alpha and beta) and interleukin-1 (rIL-1 alpha). Intercellular adhesion molecular-1 (ICAM-1) expression was increased in parallel with MHC Class I. The combination of r gamma IFN and rTNF alpha was additive in its effect on ICAM-1 expression. Northern blot analysis suggests that ICAM-1 expression in synovial cells is controlled at the level of transcription. In contrast, MHC Class II (HLA-DR) was only significantly induced by r gamma IFN. Other stimuli including interleukin-4 (IL-4), interleukin 6 (IL-6), granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) did not affect the expression of ICAM-1 or MHC Class I and II. Leucocyte function antigen 3 (LFA-3) expression was not affected by any of the stimuli tested. Immunoperoxidase staining of rheumatoid synovial tissue confirmed enhanced in vivo expression of ICAM-1 in rheumatoid arthritis. These changes are discussed in the context of T cell activation in inflammatory arthritis.

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / analysis*
  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • Cytokines / pharmacology*
  • Fibroblasts / immunology
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / analysis*
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Synovial Membrane / immunology*


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Cytokines
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1