Objectives: The IL-1 family member IL-37 was recently characterized as a fundamental inhibitor of innate inflammation. We investigated the effects of recombinant IL-37 in joint inflammation and joint pathology in a mouse model of arthritis. In addition, we explored the potential for therapeutic use in human joint inflammation.
Methods: Wild-type mice were treated systemically with a recombinant form of the naturally occurring human IL-37, and then the knee joints were injected with streptococcal cell wall fragments; joint inflammation, synovial cytokine concentrations and histology were evaluated after 24 h. Mice deficient in the IL-1 family decoy receptor IL-1R8 were treated in a similar manner. The effects of IL-37 treatment were also assessed in a model of streptococcal cell wall-induced systemic inflammation. Changes in IL37 and IL1R8 gene expression were evaluated in the synovia of patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
Results: In wild-type mice, low doses (40 µg/kg) of IL-37 suppressed joint inflammation by 51.7% (P < 0.001) and significantly decreased synovial IL-1β by 84%, IL-6 by 73%, TNF-α by 33%, chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 1 by 58%, Chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 3 or macrophage inflammatory protein 1-alpha by 64%, IL-1α by 40% and MPO by 60%. These reductions were associated with a lower recruitment of neutrophils into the joint. The anti-inflammatory properties of IL-37 were dependent on the presence of IL-1R8, also in streptococcal cell wall-induced peritonitis. We found that gene expression of IL1R8, but not IL37, is markedly increased in the synovia of patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
Conclusion: IL-37 emerges as a key suppressor of joint and systemic inflammation. These findings indicate a rationale for using recombinant IL-37 in the treatment of arthritis.
Keywords: IL-1β; TNF-α; chemokines; cytokine; immunotherapy; neutrophils; rheumatoid arthritis.
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