Introduction: Angiogenesis is an early event in the pathogenesis of both psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA); however, there are striking differences in blood vessel morphology and activation between the two arthropathies. The aim of this study was to assess if the PsA and RA joint microenvironments differentially regulate endothelial cell function.
Methods: PsA and RA primary synovial fibroblasts (SFC) were isolated from synovial biopsies, grown to confluence, and supernatants harvested and termed 'conditioned media' (CM). Human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) were cultured with PsA SFC or RA SFC-CM (20%). HUVEC tube formation, migration, and PBMC adhesion were assessed by matrigel tube formation, wound repair, and PBMC adhesion assays. HUVEC cell surface expression of ICAM, VCAM, and E-Selectin was assessed by flow cytometry. Transcriptome analysis of genes promoting angiogenesis was performed by real-time PCR. Finally, a MSD multiplex angiogenic assay was performed on PsA SFC and RA SFC supernatants.
Results: Macroscopic synovitis and vascularity were similar in PsA and RA patients; however, significant differences in vascular morphological pattern were recorded with tortuous, elongated vessels observed in PsA compared to straight regular branching vessels observed in RA. Transcriptome analysis showed strong upregulation of the pro-angiogenic signature in HUVEC primed with PsA SFC-CM compared to RA SFC-CM and basal control. In parallel, paired PsA SFC-CM significantly induced HUVEC tube formation compared to that of RA SFC-CM. Furthermore, PsA SFC-CM induced HUVEC migration was paralleled by a significant induction in VEGFA, PFKFB3, ICAM-1, and MMP3 mRNA expression. A significant increase in PBMC adhesion and cell surface expression of VCAM-1, ICAM-1, and E-Selectin expression was also demonstrated in PsA SFC-CM-primed HUVEC compared to RA SFC-CM. Finally, VEGF, TSLP, Flt-1, and Tie-2 expression was elevated in PsA SFC-CM compared to RA SFC-CM, with no significant difference in other pro-angiogenic mediators including MIP-3, bFGF, PIGF, and MCP-1.
Conclusion: PsA SFC and RA SFC secreted factors differentially regulate endothelial cell function, with soluble mediators in the PsA joint microenvironment inducing a more pro-angiogenic phenotype compared to the RA.
Keywords: Angiogenesis; Fibroblasts; Psoriatic arthritis; Rheumatoid arthritis.