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Open Access Research article

Levels of gastrin-releasing peptide and substance P in synovial fluid and serum correlate with levels of cytokines in rheumatoid arthritis

Ola Grimsholm1*, Solbritt Rantapää-Dahlqvist2 and Sture Forsgren1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Integrative Medical Biology, Section for Anatomy, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden

2 Department of Rheumatology, Umeå University Hospital, Umeå, Sweden

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2005, 7:R416-R426  doi:10.1186/ar1503

Published: 7 February 2005

Abstract

It is well known that cytokines are highly involved in the disease process of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Recently, targeting of neuropeptides has been suggested to have potential therapeutic effects in RA. The aim of this study was to investigate possible interrelations between five neuropeptides (bombesin/gastrin-releasing peptide (BN/GRP), substance P (SP), vasoactive intestinal peptide, calcitonin-gene-related peptide, and neuropeptide Y) and the three cytokines tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α, IL-6, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 in synovial fluid of patients with RA. We also investigated possible interrelations between these neuropeptides and soluble TNF receptor 1 in serum from RA patients. Synovial fluid and sera were collected and assayed with ELISA or RIA. The most interesting findings were correlations between BN/GRP and SP and the cytokines. Thus, in synovial fluid, the concentrations of BN/GRP and SP grouped together with IL-6, and SP also grouped together with TNF-α and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1. BN/GRP and SP concentrations in synovial fluid also grouped together with the erythrocyte sedimentation rate. In the sera, BN/GRP concentrations and soluble TNF receptor 1 concentrations were correlated. These results are of interest because blocking of SP effects has long been discussed in relation to RA treatment and because BN/GRP is known to have trophic and growth-promoting effects and to play a role in inflammation and wound healing. Furthermore, the observations strengthen a suggestion that combination treatment with agents interfering with neuropeptides and cytokines would be efficacious in the treatment of RA. In conclusion, BN/GRP and SP are involved together with cytokines in the neuroimmunomodulation that occurs in the arthritic joint.

Keywords:
cytokines; gastrin-releasing peptide; rheumatoid arthritis; substance P; TNF-α