HIF-1α and MIF enhance neutrophil-driven type 3 immunity and chondrogenesis in a murine spondyloarthritis model

Cell Mol Immunol. 2024 Jul;21(7):770-786. doi: 10.1038/s41423-024-01183-5. Epub 2024 Jun 5.


The hallmarks of spondyloarthritis (SpA) are type 3 immunity-driven inflammation and new bone formation (NBF). Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) was found to be a key driver of the pathogenesis of SpA by amplifying type 3 immunity, yet MIF-interacting molecules and networks remain elusive. Herein, we identified hypoxia-inducible factor-1 alpha (HIF1A) as an interacting partner molecule of MIF that drives SpA pathologies, including inflammation and NBF. HIF1A expression was increased in the joint tissues and synovial fluid of SpA patients and curdlan-injected SKG (curdlan-SKG) mice compared to the respective controls. Under hypoxic conditions in which HIF1A was stabilized, human and mouse neutrophils exhibited substantially increased expression of MIF and IL-23, an upstream type 3 immunity-related cytokine. Similar to MIF, systemic overexpression of IL-23 induced SpA pathology in SKG mice, while the injection of a HIF1A-selective inhibitor (PX-478) into curdlan-SKG mice prevented or attenuated SpA pathology, as indicated by a marked reduction in the expression of MIF and IL-23. Furthermore, genetic deletion of MIF or HIF1A inhibition with PX-478 in IL-23-overexpressing SKG mice did not induce evident arthritis or NBF, despite the presence of psoriasis-like dermatitis and blepharitis. We also found that MIF- and IL-23-expressing neutrophils infiltrated areas of the NBF in curdlan-SKG mice. These neutrophils potentially increased chondrogenesis and cell proliferation via the upregulation of STAT3 in periosteal cells and ligamental cells during endochondral ossification. Together, these results provide supporting evidence for an MIF/HIF1A regulatory network, and inhibition of HIF1A may be a novel therapeutic approach for SpA by suppressing type 3 immunity-mediated inflammation and NBF.

Keywords: Endochondral ossification; Hypoxia-inducible factor-1 alpha; Interleukin-23; Macrophage migration inhibitory factor; Neutrophil; Spondyloarthritis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chondrogenesis*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit* / metabolism
  • Immunity
  • Interleukin-23 / metabolism
  • Intramolecular Oxidoreductases / genetics
  • Intramolecular Oxidoreductases / metabolism
  • Macrophage Migration-Inhibitory Factors* / genetics
  • Macrophage Migration-Inhibitory Factors* / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neutrophils* / immunology
  • Neutrophils* / metabolism
  • Spondylarthritis / immunology
  • Spondylarthritis / pathology
  • beta-Glucans / pharmacology


  • Macrophage Migration-Inhibitory Factors
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit
  • curdlan
  • Intramolecular Oxidoreductases
  • Interleukin-23
  • beta-Glucans