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Objective

Stromal cell–derived factor 1 (SDF-1) is a chemokine that is involved in the bone-destructive process in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and bony metastasis in malignancy. This study was undertaken to determine the role and mechanism of SDF-1 in RA-associated osteoclastogenesis.

Methods

The expression of SDF-1, tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα), and RANKL in RA synovial tissue was analyzed using confocal microscopy. After synovial fibroblasts and CD4+ T cells were treated with SDF-1, RANKL messenger RNA expression was determined by real-time and reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. Osteoclastogenesis was assessed by counting tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase–positive multinucleated cells in CD14+ monocytes cultured with SDF-1 in the presence of anticytokine antibodies or signal inhibitors and in monocytes cocultured with SDF-1–pretreated synovial fibroblasts and CD4+ T cells.

Results

RANKL, TNFα, and SDF-1 were coexpressed in the lining and sublining of RA synovium. SDF-1 stimulated RANKL expression in RA synovial fibroblasts and CD4+ T cells, and TNFα inhibition reduced this stimulation. When monocytes isolated from human peripheral blood were cultured with SDF-1, they were differentiated into osteoclasts in the absence of RANKL. Monocytes were also differentiated into osteoclasts when they were cocultured with SDF-1–pretreated synovial fibroblasts or CD4+T cells; however, this osteoclastogenesis was reduced by TNFα inhibition.

Conclusion

Our findings indicate that SDF-1 induces osteoclastogenesis directly and indirectly via up-regulating RANKL expression in RA synovial fibroblasts and CD4+ T cells, and that this is mediated by TNFα. The axis of SDF-1 and RANKL is a potential therapeutic target for RA-associated bone destruction.