Objective: The pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) reflects an ongoing imbalance between proinflammatory and antiinflammatory cytokines. Interleukin-20 (IL-20) has proinflammatory properties for keratinocytes. In this study, we sought to determine whether IL-20 is involved in RA.
Methods: We analyzed IL-20 levels in synovial fluid from RA patients. IL-20 and its receptors were detected in RA synovial fibroblasts (RASFs), using immunohistochemical staining. The effect of IL-20 on endothelial cells, neutrophils, and RASFs was investigated using MTT and migration assays. The expression of IL-20 and its receptors in healthy rats and in rats with collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) was also analyzed. Soluble IL-20 receptor type I (sIL-20RI) or sIL-20RII was administered to rats with CIA by intramuscular electroporation, and the severity of arthritis was monitored.
Results: RA patients expressed significantly higher levels of synovial fluid IL-20 than did the rheumatic disease controls. IL-20 and its receptors were expressed in the synovial membranes and RASFs. IL-20 induced RASFs to secrete monocyte chemoattractant protein 1, IL-6, and IL-8, and it promoted neutrophil chemotaxis, RASF migration, and endothelial cell proliferation. Both IL-20 and IL-20RI were up-regulated in the rat CIA model. In vivo, electroporated sIL-20RI plasmid DNA decreased the severity of arthritis in the rats with CIA.
Conclusion: IL-20 was up-regulated in the synovial fluid of RA patients and acted as a chemokine that attracted the migration of neutrophils and RASFs in vitro. The rat CIA model demonstrated that IL-20 was involved in the pathogenesis of arthritis, because sIL-20RI significantly reduced arthritis in rats with CIA. Thus, IL-20 may modulate the incidence and severity of arthritis and play important roles at local sites of inflammation.