Amino Acids Fueling Fibroblast-Like Synoviocyte Activation and Arthritis By Regulating Chemokine Expression and Leukocyte Migration

Arthritis Rheumatol. 2024 Apr;76(4):531-540. doi: 10.1002/art.42759. Epub 2024 Jan 17.


Objective: We analyzed the impact of amino acid (AA) availability on the inflammatory response in arthritis.

Methods: We stimulated rheumatoid arthritis (RA) fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs) with tumor necrosis factor (TNF) in the presence or absence of proteinogenic AAs and measured their response by QuantSeq 3' messenger RNA sequencing, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Signal transduction events were determined by Western blot. We performed K/BxN serum transfer arthritis in mice receiving a normal and a low-protein diet and analyzed arthritis clinically and histologically.

Results: Deprivation of AAs decreased the expression of a specific subset of genes, including the chemokines CXCL10, CCL2, and CCL5 in TNF-stimulated FLSs. Mechanistically, the presence of AAs was required for the TNF-induced activation of an interferon regulatory factor 1 (IRF1)-STAT1 signaling circuit that drives the expression of chemotactic factors. The expression of IRF1 and the IRF1-dependent gene set in FLSs was highly correlated with the presence of inflammatory cells in human RA, emphasizing the important role of this AA-dependent pathway in inflammatory cell recruitment to the synovial tissue. Finally, we show that mice receiving a low-protein diet expressed less IRF1 in the inflamed synovium and consequently developed reduced clinical and histologic signs of arthritis.

Conclusion: AA deprivation reduces the severity of arthritis by suppressing the expression of IRF1-STAT1-driven chemokines, which are crucial for leukocyte recruitment to the arthritic joint. Overall, our study provides novel insights into critical determinants of inflammatory arthritis and may pave the way for dietary intervention trials in RA.

MeSH terms

  • Amines / metabolism
  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid* / genetics
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chemokine CXCL10 / metabolism
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes / metabolism
  • Leukocytes / pathology
  • Mice
  • Synoviocytes* / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Amino Acids
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Chemokine CXCL10
  • Amines