The regulation of proliferation and cell death is vital for homeostasis, but the mechanism that coordinately balances these events in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) remains largely unknown. In RA, the synovial lining thickens in part through increased proliferation and/or decreased synovial fibroblast cell death. Here we demonstrate that the anti-apoptotic protein, Bcl-2, is highly expressed in RA compared with osteoarthritis synovial tissues, particularly in the CD68-negative, fibroblast-like synoviocyte population. To determine the importance of endogenous Bcl-2, an adenoviral vector expressing a hammerhead ribozyme to Bcl-2 (Ad-Rbz-Bcl-2) mRNA was employed. Ad-Rbz-Bcl-2 infection resulted in reduced Bcl-2 expression and cell viability in synovial fibroblasts isolated from RA and osteoarthritis synovial tissues. In addition, Ad-Rbz-Bcl-2-induced mitochondrial permeability transition, cytochrome c release, activation of caspases 9 and 3, and DNA fragmentation. The general caspase inhibitor zVAD.fmk blocked caspase activation, poly(ADP- ribose) polymerase cleavage, and DNA fragmentation, but not loss of transmembrane potential or viability, indicating that cell death was independent of caspase activation. Ectopically expressed Bck-x(L) inhibited Ad-Rbz-Bcl-2-induced mitochondrial permeability transition and apoptosis in Ad-Rbz-Bcl-2-transduced cells. Thus, forced down-regulation of Bcl-2 does not induce a compensatory mechanism to prevent loss of mitochondrial integrity and cell death in human fibroblasts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy