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Open Access Research article

Heterogeneous expression pattern of interleukin-17A (IL-17A), IL-17F and their receptors in synovium of rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and osteoarthritis: possible explanation for non-response to anti-IL-17 therapy?

Lisa GM van Baarsen12*, M Cristina Lebre12, Dennis van der Coelen12, Saïda Aarrass12, Man Wai Tang1, Tamara H Ramwadhdoebe12, Daniëlle M Gerlag13 and Paul P Tak13

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Meibergdreef 9, Amsterdam, 1105, AZ, the Netherlands

2 Department of Experimental Immunology, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

3 Current address: University of Cambridge, Cambridge and GlaxoSmithKline, Stevenage, UK

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2014, 16:426  doi:10.1186/s13075-014-0426-z

Published: 22 August 2014

Abstract (provisional)

IntroductionAccumulating evidence suggests an important role for interleukin (IL)-17 in the pathogenesis of several inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and psoriatic arthritis (PsA). Accordingly, clinical trials aimed at blocking IL-17 have been initiated but clinical results are highly variable between patients and across different diseases. The objective was to determine the variability in expression of IL-17A, IL-17F and their receptors IL-17RA and IL-17RC in synovium of patients with arthritis.MethodsSynovial biopsies were obtained from patients with RA (n?=?11), PsA (n?=?15) and inflammatory osteoarthritis (OA, n?=?14). For comparison, synovium from non-inflamed knee joints (n?=?7) were included obtained from controls. Frozen sections were stained for IL-17A, IL-17F, IL-17RA and IL-17RC, and evaluated by digital image analysis. To determine which cells in the synovium express IL-17A and IL-17F, double stainings with CD4, CD8, CD15, CD68, CD163, CD31, Von Willebrand Factor (vWF), peripheral lymph node addressin (PNAd), lymphatic vessel endothelial hyaluronan receptor 1 (Lyve-1), mast cell tryptase (MCT) and RAR-Related Orphan Receptor gamma t (ROR?(t)) were performed and evaluated by confocal microscopy.ResultsIL-17A, IL-17F, IL-17RA and IL-17RC were abundantly expressed in synovial tissues of all patient groups. Whereas IL-17RA was mostly present in the synovial sublining, IL-17RC was abundantly expressed in the intimal lining layer. Digital image analysis showed a significant (P?<?0.05) increase of only IL-17A in arthritis patients compared to non-inflamed control tissues. The expression of IL-17A, IL-17F and their receptors was similar in the different patient groups, but highly variable between patients. CD4 and CD8 positive cells co-expressed IL-17A and few cells co-expressed IL-17F. IL-17A and IL-17F were not expressed by CD15 positive neutrophils. Mast cells were only occasionally positive for IL-17A or IL-17F. Interestingly, IL-17A and IL-17F staining was also observed in macrophages as well as in blood vessels and lymphatics; this staining probably reflects receptor bound cytokine staining. Many infiltrated cells were positive for the transcription factor ROR?(t). Colocalization between ROR?(t) and IL-17A and IL-17F indicates local IL-17 production.ConclusionsIncreased expression of IL-17A is not restricted to synovial tissues of RA and PsA patients but also observed in inflammatory OA. The heterogeneous expression levels may explain non-response to anti-IL17 therapy in subsets of patients.

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