New target found for treating rheumatoid arthritis

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New target found for treating rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is challenging to treat due to many negative side effects associated with the available approaches. According to resources, new research could lead to better treatment options. Researchers from the University of Birmingham's Institute of Inflammation and Ageing identified cell types called, synovial fibroblasts (SF), which can cause damage to joints typical of RA. This information could be used to develop treatments targeted to those cells.

Synovial fibroblasts make up the part of the connective tissue, or synovium, around the joints. In RA patients, SF cells cause damage by invading and attacking the cartilage and the bone around the joint.Researchers have identified two distinct types of SF within the synovial membrane. These cell types are defined by the presence of the cell surface markers PDPN and CD248 which aggregate in different layers of the synovium. The PDPN type is responsible for the cartilage damage in RA patients.

In the study, SF cells from patients with RA were grown in vitro within an artificial synovium and then activated using cytokines. The artificial synovium containing the SFs was then inserted into a mouse whose immune system was turned off, as well as human cartilage to simulate a joint. The researchers wanted to examine the way to develop SF cells in vivo. After implantation, tests showed that the lining layer of the artificial synovium contained invasive PDPN type SFs, while the part that was further away from the cartilage contained the non-invasive CD248 type.

Recent findings had shown that activated SF cells could migrate. It was demonstrated that PDPN type SF cells were the first to migrate, while the CD248 cells only appeared at a later stage in secondary tissues.

This study not only shows the existence of distinct sub-sets of synovial fibroblasts but also suggests that these cells are able to self-organize into the lining and sub-lining layers in the presence of cartilage. Combined with the difference in migration rates between the two types of cell, these results are extremely promising regarding finding new therapeutic targets for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

Thus, by targeting fibroblast cell processes, future treatments for RA could be more effective and more manageable than current options.


University of Birmingham

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Original title of the article:

Fibroblasts could provide new target for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis


Dr Adam Croft

Therapeutic, Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Joints, Synovial Fibroblasts
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