Role and Therapeutic Potential for Targeting Fibroblast Growth Factor 10/FGFR1 in Relapsed Rheumatoid Arthritis

Arthritis Rheumatol. 2024 Jan;76(1):32-47. doi: 10.1002/art.42674. Epub 2023 Nov 28.


Objective: Fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs) contribute to inflammation and joint damage in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, the regulatory mechanisms of FLSs in relapse and remission of RA remain unknown. Identifying FLS heterogeneity and their underlying pathogenic roles may lead to discovering novel disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs.

Methods: Combining single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) and spatial transcriptomics, we sequenced six matched synovial tissue samples from three patients with relapse RA and three patients in remission. We analyzed the differences in the transcriptomes of the FLS subsets between the relapse and remitted phases. We validated several key signaling pathways using quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) and multiplex immunohistochemistry (mIHC). We further targeted the critical signals in vitro and in vivo using the collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) model in rats.

Results: Lining and sublining FLS subsets were identified using scRNA-seq. Differential analyses indicated that the fibroblast growth factor (FGF) pathway was highly activated in the lining FLSs from patients with relapse RA for which mIHC confirmed the increased expression of FGF10. Although the type I interferon pathway was also activated in the lining FLSs, in vitro stimulation experiment suggested that it was independent of the FGF10 pathway. FGF10 knockdown by small interfering RNA in FLSs significantly reduced the expression of receptor activator of NF-κB ligand. Moreover, recombinant FGF10 protein enhanced bone erosion in the primary human-derived pannus cell culture, whereas the FGF receptor (FGFR) 1 inhibitor attenuated this process. Finally, administering an FGFR1 inhibitor displayed a therapeutic effect in a CIA rat model.

Conclusion: The FGF pathway is a critical signaling pathway in relapse RA. Targeted tissue-specific inhibition of FGF10/FGFR1 may provide new opportunities to treat patients with relapse RA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid* / drug therapy
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid* / genetics
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid* / metabolism
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 10 / metabolism
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 10 / pharmacology
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 10 / therapeutic use
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 1 / genetics
  • Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 1 / metabolism
  • Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 1 / therapeutic use
  • Recurrence
  • Synoviocytes* / metabolism


  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 10
  • FGFR1 protein, human
  • Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 1