Receptor tyrosine kinase ligands and inflammatory cytokines cooperatively suppress the fibrogenic activity in temporomandibular-joint-derived fibroblast-like synoviocytes via mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase

Exp Ther Med. 2020 Sep;20(3):1967-1974. doi: 10.3892/etm.2020.8944. Epub 2020 Jun 25.


Osteoarthritis (OA)-related fibrosis is a possible cause of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) stiffness. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the fibrogenic activity in fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs) remain to be clarified. The present study examined the effects of receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) ligands, such as fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-1 and epidermal growth factor (EGF), on myofibroblastic differentiation of the FLS cell line FLS1, which is derived from the mouse TMJ. The present study revealed that both FGF-1 and EGF dose-dependently suppressed the expression of the myofibroblast (MF) markers, including α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) and type I collagen, in FLS1 cells. Additionally, both FGF-1 and EGF activated extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) in FLS1 cells. In addition, the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)/ERK kinase (MEK) inhibitor U0126 abrogated the FGF-1- and EGF-mediated suppression of MF marker expression. On the other hand, inflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin-1β and tumor necrosis factor-α, also suppressed the expression of MF markers in FLS1 cells. Importantly, U0126 abrogated the inflammatory cytokine-mediated suppression of MF marker expression. Interestingly, RTK ligands and inflammatory cytokines additively suppressed the expression of type I collagen. These results suggested that RTK ligands and inflammatory cytokines cooperatively inhibited the fibrogenic activity in FLSs derived from the TMJ in a MEK/ERK-dependent manner. The present findings partially clarify the molecular mechanisms underlying the development of OA-related fibrosis in the TMJ and may aid in identifying therapeutic targets for this condition. Additionally, FGF-1 and EGF could be therapeutically utilized to prevent OA-related fibrosis around the inflammatory TMJ.

Keywords: fibroblast-like synoviocytes; inflammatory cytokines; myofibroblast differentiation; receptor tyrosine kinase ligands; temporomandibular joint.