Open Access Research article

The shunt from the cyclooxygenase to lipoxygenase pathway in human osteoarthritic subchondral osteoblasts is linked with a variable expression of the 5-lipoxygenase-activating protein

Kelitha Maxis, Aline Delalandre, Johanne Martel-Pelletier, Jean-Pierre Pelletier, Nicolas Duval and Daniel Lajeunesse*

Author Affiliations

Unité de recherche en Arthrose, Centre de recherche du Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal, Hôpital Notre-Dame, 1560 rue Sherbrooke Est, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H2L 4M1

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2006, 8:R181  doi:10.1186/ar2092

Published: 8 December 2006


Osteoarthritis (OA) is characterized by articular cartilage degradation and hypertrophic bone changes with osteophyte formation and abnormal bone remodeling. Two groups of OA patients were identified via the production of variable and opposite levels of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) or leukotriene B4 (LTB4) by subchondral osteoblasts, PGE2 levels discriminating between low and high subgroups. We studied whether the expression of 5-lipoxygenase (5-LO) or 5-LO-activating protein (FLAP) is responsible for the shunt from prostaglandins to leukotrienes. FLAP mRNA levels varied in low and high OA groups compared with normal, whereas mRNA levels of 5-LO were similar in all osteoblasts. Selective inhibition of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) with NS-398-stimulated FLAP expression in the high OA osteoblasts subgroup, whereas it was without effect in the low OA osteoblasts subgroup. The addition of PGE2 to the low OA osteoblasts subgroup decreased FLAP expression but failed to affect it in the high OA osteoblasts subgroup. LTB4 levels in OA osteoblasts were stimulated about twofold by 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25(OH)2D3) plus transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β), a situation corresponding to their effect on FLAP mRNA levels. Treatments with 1,25(OH)2D3 and TGF-β also modulated PGE2 production. TGF-β stimulated PGE2 production in both OA osteoblast groups, whereas 1,25(OH)2D3 alone had a limited effect but decreased the effect of TGF-β in the low OA osteoblasts subgroup. This modulation of PGE2 production was mirrored by the synthesis of COX-2. IL-18 levels were only slightly increased in a subgroup of OA osteoblasts compared with normal; however, no relationship was observed overall between IL-18 and PGE2 levels in normal and OA osteoblasts. These results suggest that the shunt from the production of PGE2 to LTB4 is through regulation of the expression of FLAP, not 5-LO, in OA osteoblasts. The expression of FLAP in OA osteoblasts is also modulated differently by 1,25(OH)2D3 and TGF-β depending on their endogenous low and high PGE2 levels.