Elevated ACKR2 expression is a common feature of inflammatory arthropathies

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2017 Sep 1;56(9):1607-1617. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/kex176.


Objectives: Chemokines are essential contributors to leucocyte accumulation at sites of inflammatory pathology. Interfering with chemokine or chemokine receptor function therefore represents a plausible therapeutic option. However, our currently limited understanding of chemokine orchestration of inflammatory responses means that such therapies have not yet been fully developed. We have a particular interest in the family of atypical chemokine receptors that fine-tune, or resolve, chemokine-driven responses. In particular we are interested in atypical chemokine receptor 2 (ACKR2), which is a scavenging receptor for inflammatory CC-chemokines and that therefore helps to resolve in vivo inflammatory responses. The objective of the current study was to examine ACKR2 expression in common arthropathies.

Methods: ACKR2 expression was measured by a combination of qPCR and immuno-histochemistry. In addition, circulating cytokine and chemokine levels in patient plasma were assessed using multiplexing approaches.

Results: Expression of ACKR2 was elevated on peripheral blood cells as well as on leucocytes and stromal cells in synovial tissue. Expression on peripheral blood leucocytes correlated with, and could be regulated by, circulating cytokines with particularly strong associations being seen with IL-6 and hepatocyte growth factor. In addition, expression within the synovium was coincident with aggregates of lymphocytes, potentially atopic follicles and sites of high inflammatory chemokine expression. Similarly increased levels of ACKR2 have been reported in psoriasis and SSc.

Conclusion: Our data clearly show increased ACKR2 in a variety of arthropathies and taking into account our, and others', previous data we now propose that elevated ACKR2 expression is a common feature of inflammatory pathologies.

Keywords: ACKR2; arthritis; chemokine; inflammation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthritis, Psoriatic / immunology*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chemokines / blood
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Receptors, Chemokine / blood*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Synovial Membrane / immunology


  • ACKR2 protein, human
  • Biomarkers
  • Chemokines
  • Cytokines
  • Receptors, Chemokine