NF-AT5 is a critical regulator of inflammatory arthritis

Arthritis Rheum. 2011 Jul;63(7):1843-52. doi: 10.1002/art.30229.


Objective: To investigate the role of NF-AT5, an osmoprotective transcription factor, in synovial hyperplasia and angiogenesis in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Methods: The expression of NF-AT5 in synovial tissue and synoviocytes from RA patients was examined by immunohistochemistry and Western blot analysis, respectively. Messenger RNA (mRNA) in RA synoviocytes and human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) transfected with dummy small interfering RNA (siRNA) or NF-AT5 siRNA were profiled using microarray technology. Assays to determine synoviocyte apoptosis and proliferation were performed in the presence of NF-AT5 siRNA. VEGF₁₆₅-induced angiogenesis was assessed by measuring the proliferation, tube formation, and wound migration of HUVECs. Experimental arthritis was induced in mice by injection of anti-type II collagen antibody.

Results: NF-AT5 was highly expressed in rheumatoid synovium, and its activity was increased by proinflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin-1β and tumor necrosis factor α. The mRNA profiling of synoviocytes and HUVECs transfected with NF-AT5-targeted siRNA revealed 3 major changes in cellular processes associated with the pathogenesis of RA: cell cycle and survival, angiogenesis, and cell migration. Consistent with these results, NF-AT5 knockdown in RA synoviocytes and HUVECs inhibited their proliferation/survival and impeded angiogenic processes in HUVECs. Mice with NF-AT5 haploinsufficiency (NF-AT5(+/-)) developed a very limited degree of synovial proliferation, as seen on histologic analysis, and decreased angiogenesis, and they exhibited a nearly complete suppression of experimentally induced arthritis.

Conclusion: NF-AT5 regulates synovial proliferation and angiogenesis in chronic arthritis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / genetics
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / metabolism*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / pathology
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Endothelial Cells / drug effects
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Endothelial Cells / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Interleukin-1beta / metabolism
  • Interleukin-1beta / pharmacology
  • NFATC Transcription Factors / genetics
  • NFATC Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / genetics
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / metabolism*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / pathology
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Synovial Membrane / drug effects
  • Synovial Membrane / metabolism*
  • Synovial Membrane / pathology
  • Transfection
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology


  • Interleukin-1beta
  • NFATC Transcription Factors
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha