Characterization of interleukin-7 and interleukin-7 receptor in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis

Sarah R. Pickens, Nathan D. Chamberlain, Michael V. Volin, Richard M. Pope, Nicholas E. Talarico, Arthur M. Mandelin, Shiva Shahrara*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Objective To characterize the expression of interleukin-7 (IL-7) and IL-7 receptor (IL-7R) in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) synovial tissue and to examine their regulation and pathogenic role in macrophages, endothelial cells, and synovial tissue fibroblasts in RA. Methods Expression of IL-7 and IL-7R in RA and normal synovial tissue was demonstrated by immunohistochemistry. Expression and regulation of IL-7 and IL-7R in RA peripheral blood in vitro-differentiated macrophages, RA synovial tissue fibroblasts, and human microvascular endothelial cells (HMVECs) were determined by real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and/or flow cytometry. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was used to examine production of proangiogenic factors by IL-7-activated macrophages, RA fibroblasts, and endothelial cells. Results IL-7 and IL-7R were coexpressed on RA synovial tissue lining and sublining macrophages and endothelial cells. Expression of IL-7 and its receptor was significantly elevated in RA synovial fluid and peripheral blood macrophages as well as RA fibroblasts, compared to normal cells. Toll-like receptor 4 ligation (with lipopolysaccharide) and tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) stimulation modulated expression of IL-7 and IL-7R on RA macrophages and HMVECs. However, in RA fibroblasts, lipopolysaccharide and TNFα activation increased expression of IL-7R only. IL-7 also mediated RA pathogenesis by inducing production of potent proangiogenic factors from macrophages and endothelial cells. Conclusion We have identified, for the first time, regulators of IL-7 and IL-7R expression in RA fibroblasts, RA peripheral blood in vitro-differentiated macrophages, and endothelial cells. Our results document a novel role of IL-7 in RA angiogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2884-2893
Number of pages10
JournalArthritis and rheumatism
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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