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, 151, 282-290

Regulation and Function of Apoptosis Signal-Regulating Kinase 1 in Rheumatoid Arthritis


Regulation and Function of Apoptosis Signal-Regulating Kinase 1 in Rheumatoid Arthritis

Gyrid Nygaard et al. Biochem Pharmacol.


Despite improved therapy, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) remains an unmet medical need. Previous efforts to validate therapeutic targets in the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) family have had minimal success. Therefore, we evaluated the potential for targeting an upstream MAPK, namely apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 (ASK1), as an alternative approach. ASK1 protein and gene expression were observed in RA and osteoarthritis (OA) synovium as determined by immunohistochemistry (IHC) and qPCR, respectively, particularly in the synovial intimal lining. For RA, but not OA synovium, ASK1 correlated with IL-1β and TNF gene expression. ASK1 was also expressed by cultured fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS), with significantly higher levels in RA compared with OA cells. IL-1β and TNF stimulation significantly increased ASK1 expression in a time-and concentration-dependent manner in cultured FLS. ASK1 promoter activity was significantly increased by IL-1β and TNF and was dependent on an upstream RelA binding motif. A selective small molecule ASK1 inhibitor reduced RA FLS invasion, migration and proliferation in vitro and decreased arthritis severity in the rat collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) model. In summary, our findings demonstrate that ASK1 modulates signaling pathways relevant to RA in vitro and in vivo. It is induced by inflammatory cytokines through the activation of NF-κB, which could provide some site- and event specificity. Thus, inhibitors of the upstream MAPK ASK1 could be a novel approach to treating inflammatory arthritis.

Keywords: ASK1; Cytokines; Fibroblast-like synoviocytes; Inflammation; Rheumatoid arthritis.

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