Objective: To investigate the role of nitric oxide (NO) and interleukin-1 in (IL-1) joint inflammation and cartilage destruction during zymosan-induced gonarthritis (ZIA).
Methods: Monarticular arthritis was elicited by intraarticular injection of zymosan. The effect of NO deficiency on arthritis was studied in mice with genetically disrupted NOS2. The role of IL-1 was examined by treating wild-type mice with neutralizing anti-murine IL-1(alpha+beta) antibodies. Joint swelling was measured externally by the increased uptake of circulating 99mtechnetium pertechnetate. Proteoglycan (PG) synthesis was assessed using 35S-sulfate incorporation into patellae ex vivo. Histology evaluated exudation and infiltration of leukocytes and the extent of cartilage destruction.
Results: The proinflammatory mediators NO, IL-1, and IL-6 were released by the articular tissues during the first hours of inflammation. Interestingly, anti-IL-1 treatment moderately reduced, and NOS2 deficiency moderately enhanced, joint swelling. However, the influx of neutrophils into the joint occurred independently of IL-1 and NOS2 activities. In the first week of inflammation, chondrocyte PG synthesis was significantly suppressed and chondrocytes became unresponsive to their essential anabolic factor, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). Anti-IL-1 treatment or NOS2 deficiency prevented the inhibition of PG synthesis, and the chondrocytes remained IGF-1 responsive. Intraarticular injections of IL-1alpha into NOS2-deficient mice did not affect PG synthesis, thus proving that NO mediated this IL-1 effect in vivo. Furthermore, histology showed that cartilage PG loss was markedly ameliorated in NOS2-deficient and anti-IL-1-treated mice. Intermediate cartilage pathology was found in mice that were heterozygous for disrupted NOS2.
Conclusion: IL-1 and NO play a minor role in edema and neutrophil influx, but a major role in cartilage destruction of ZIA. In this model of murine arthritis, cartilage destruction was, for the most part, caused by pronounced suppression of PG synthesis and IGF-1 unresponsiveness of the chondrocytes, which were induced by de novo-synthesized IL-1 and were mediated by NOS2 activation.