Introduction: Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which joint inflammation leads to progressive cartilage and bone erosion. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) implicated in homeostasis of the extracellular matrix play a central role in cartilage degradation. However, the role of specific MMPs in arthritis pathogenesis is largely unknown. The aim of the present study was to investigate the role of Mmp-8 (collagenase-2) in an arthritis model.
Methods: Arthritis was induced in Mmp8-deficient and wildtype mice by K/BxN serum transfer. Arthritis severity was measured by a clinical index and ankle sections were scored for synovial inflammation, cartilage damage and bone erosion. cDNA microarray analysis, real-time PCR and western blot were performed to identify differential changes in gene expression between mice lacking Mmp8 and controls.
Results: Mmp8 deficiency increased the severity of arthritis, although the incidence of disease was similar in control and deficient mice. Increased clinical score was associated with exacerbated synovial inflammation and bone erosion. We also found that the absence of Mmp8 led to increased expression of IL-1β, pentraxin-3 (PTX3) and prokineticin receptor 2 (PROKR2) in arthritic mice joints.
Conclusions: Lack of Mmp-8 is accompanied by exacerbated synovial inflammation and bone erosion in the K/BxN serum-transfer arthritis model, indicating that this Mmp has a protective role in arthritis.