Objective: To assess the effect of various antirheumatic drugs on cytokine, cytokine inhibitor, and prostaglandin E (PGE) production by normal blood mononuclear cells (MNC) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) synovial fibroblasts in vitro.
Methods: MNC from healthy donors and RA synovial fibroblasts were preincubated with or without prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), indomethacin, dexamethasone, gold sodium thiomalate (GSTM), methotrexate (MTX), and cyclosporin A (CyA), and then cultured in the absence or presence of interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 beta) or tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) for 48 h. We characterized cytokines such as IL-1 beta, IL-8, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), and cytokine inhibitors such as IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra) and soluble TNF receptors (sTNFR p55 + p75) as well as PGE in the cell-free culture supernatants.
Results: In MNC and synovial fibroblast cultures dexamethasone, GSTM, and PGE2 most markedly downregulated spontaneous and/or cytokine stimulated production of IL-1 beta, IL-14a, IL-8, and MCP-1, whereas sTNFR shedding was not affected. In contrast, MTX and CyA had only marginal or no effects on mediator release, whereas indomethacin inhibited only PGE production.
Conclusion: Among several antirheumatic drugs examined, dexamethasone and GSTM exhibited the most potent inhibitory effects on inflammatory cytokine and cytokine inhibitor production by blood mononuclear cells and synovial fibroblasts. These drugs may exert their antiinflammatory actions by unspecific suppression of monocyte and fibroblast secretory function.