Objectives: CXCL12 is a constitutively expressed chemokine with important homeostatic functions. Increased CXCL12 expression has been observed in several inflammatory conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This study was undertaken to identify potential mechanisms of regulation of CXCL12 gene expression by human fibroblasts under normal or inflammatory conditions.
Methods: Synovial fibroblasts (SF) were cultured from RA and osteoarthritis (OA) synovial tissues. CXCL12 mRNA expression was analysed by real time quantitative RT-PCR in RA-SF under different growth conditions, and exposed to hypoxia or to different pro-inflammatory factors. A 5'CXCL12 -1.4 kb promoter region fragment was cloned in a luciferase reporter plasmid and its activity analysed in human fibroblasts.
Results: CXCL12 mRNA expression was not constitutively increased in RA- compared to OA-SF. LPS, pro-inflammatory cytokines or growth factors did not induce CXCL12 mRNA expression in SF. Hypoxia and growth arrest by either serum starvation or confluent growth induced CXCL12 mRNA and protein expression in SF. Constitutive and induced expression of CXCL12 in fibroblasts was regulated at the transcriptional level by specific regions of the -1.4 kb promoter.
Conclusions: Pro-inflammatory factors and cytokines do not up-regulate CXCL12 gene expression in SF. Growth arrest and hypoxia are potentially important inducers of CXCL12 expression in human fibroblasts and operate by regulating transcriptional activity of the promoter.
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