Objective. To identify and investigate the kinetic binding properties of interleukin-1 receptors (IL-1R), and examine the abilities of the 2 IL-1 isoforms to stimulate metalloprotease synthesis, in normal and osteoarthritic (OA) chondrocytes.
Methods. Receptor affinity and density were determined using radioligand binding experiments and flow cytometry. Immunocytochemical analysis and affinity cross-linking studies were performed for characterization of IL-1R.
Results. While no difference in receptor affinity between normal and OA chondrocytes was noted in binding studies (kd ˜30 pM), a 2-fold increase in receptor density was found in OA chondrocytes as compared with normal chondrocytes (mean 4,069 sites/cell versus 2,315 sites/cell). Flow cytometry experiments also showed a significant increase in receptor density in OA cells, as well as an enhancement in the percentage of positive cells in diseased cartilage compared with normal. Binding data for both IL-1 isoforms revealed a single class of binding sites and receptor specificity. Factors such as IL-2, interferon-sγ, tumor necrosis factor α, and bovine insulin did not compete with IL-1β. By covalent ligand cross-linking and electrophoretic analysis, only type I IL-1R, a protein of 80 kd, was detected on chondrocytes. By immunocytochemical analysis, IL-1R was identified at the cell membrane level, in both normal and OA chondrocytes. The presence of nuclear staining was also observed, but only in OA chondrocytes. Recombinant human IL-1 (α and β) induced the secretion of stromelysin and collagenase in a dose-dependent manner. The IL-1 concentration required for half-maximal metalloprotease stimulation was 3–4 times lower in OA chondrocytes than in normal cells.
Conclusion. These results indicate that OA chondrocytes have a higher sensitivity to the stimulation of metalloprotease synthesis by IL-1 than do normal cells. This could be related to the increased levels of IL-1R expressed in the OA cells. The implications of these findings with regard to the possible roles of IL-1 and IL-1R in the pathogenesis of OA are discussed.