Involvement of sphingosine kinase/sphingosine 1-phosphate metabolic pathway in spondyloarthritis

Bone. 2017 Oct;103:150-158. doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2017.07.002. Epub 2017 Jul 3.


Spondyloarthritis (SpA) is a relatively common chronic inflammatory joint disorder, with a prevalence of about 0.2-0.5% worldwide. The primary target of the pathological process is the enthesis, where tendons and ligaments attach to underlying bone. These insertion sites are hotspots of bone formation (enthesophytes), which can lead to ankylosis. Unfortunately, the mechanisms causing the onset and progression of entheseal ossification remain largely unknown. Sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P), a lipid generated after sphingosine phosphorylation by sphingosine kinases 1 and 2 (SK1/2), plays important roles in cell proliferation, differentiation and survival. S1P regulates fundamental biological processes such as cell cycle, inflammatory response or bone homeostasis. Indeed, S1P has been involved in some of most-spread skeletal diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. On the other hand, the implication of S1P in SpA has not been explored yet. In the present work, we observed by ELISA that S1P content was significantly increased in the serum of SpA patients (6.1±4.2μM, n=21) compared to healthy donors (1.6±0.9μM, n=12). In vitro, gene expression of SK1 and SK2 as well as their activity were increased during differentiation of primary murine chondrocytes and osteoblasts into mineralizing cells. In addition, mRNA of the S1P-specific transporter Spns2 and S1P secretion were augmented. Using the pharmacological drugs SKi (SK pan-inhibitor), PF-543 (SK1 specific inhibitor) or K-145 (SK2 specific inhibitor), we showed that the inhibition of SK1 and/or SK2 decreased matrix mineralization, alkaline phosphatase activity and the mRNA expression of Runx2 and Bglap in chondrocytes and osteoblasts. To our knowledge, this is the first study indicating that S1P levels are significantly increased in serum from SpA patients. Moreover, we showed in vitro that SK activity was involved in the mineralization capacity of osteoblasts and chondrocytes. S1P metabolic pathway may represent an ingenious therapeutic target for SpA in the future.

Keywords: Chondrocyte; Mineralization; Osteoblast; Sphingosine 1-phosphate; Spondyloarthritis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Calcification, Physiologic / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lysophospholipids / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Middle Aged
  • Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor) / metabolism*
  • Sphingosine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Sphingosine / metabolism
  • Spondylarthritis / metabolism*
  • Young Adult


  • Lysophospholipids
  • sphingosine 1-phosphate
  • Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor)
  • sphingosine kinase
  • Sphingosine