Objective: To evaluate the role of the MEK/ERK MAP kinase pathway in murine collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) using the selective MEK inhibitor PD184352. We examined the effects of the inhibitor in cytokine-stimulated synovial fibroblasts and in cytokine-induced arthritis in rabbits to investigate its antiinflammatory mechanisms.
Methods: Murine CIA was used to assess the effects of the selective MEK inhibitor on paw edema, clinical scores, weight loss, histopathologic features, and joint levels of p-ERK. Western blotting and immunohistochemistry techniques were used to assess p-ERK in human and rabbit synovial fibroblasts and synovial tissue from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients. Interleukin-1alpha (IL-1alpha)-stimulated stromelysin production in rabbit synovial fibroblasts was assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. A rabbit IL-1alpha-induced arthritis model was used to assess the effects of the inhibitor on IL-1alpha-induced MEK activity, stromelysin production, and cartilage degradation.
Results: In the CIA model, PD184352 inhibited paw edema and clinical arthritis scores in a dose-dependent manner. Disease-induced weight loss and histopathologic changes were also significantly improved by treatment. Inhibition of disease-induced p-ERK levels in the joints was seen with the inhibitor. Levels of p-ERK in the synovium were higher in RA patients than in normal individuals. PD184352 reduced IL-1alpha-induced p-ERK levels in human RA synovial fibroblasts. The production of p-ERK and stromelysin was also inhibited in IL-1alpha-stimulated rabbit synovial fibroblasts. We observed IL-1alpha-induced p-ERK in the synovial lining, subsynovial vasculature, and articular chondrocytes. IL-1alpha-induced stromelysin production and proteoglycan loss from the articular cartilage were reduced by PD184352.
Conclusion: These data demonstrate the inhibition of murine CIA by PD184352, support the hypothesis that antiinflammatory activity contributes to the mechanism of action of the inhibitor, and suggest that a selective inhibitor may effectively treat RA and other inflammatory disorders.