Expression of sterile-α and armadillo motif in rheumatoid arthritis monocytes correlates with TLR2 induced IL-1β and disease activity.

Cartilage and bone damage in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are associated with elevated IL-1β. The effects of IL-1β can be reduced by biological therapies that target IL-1β or TNFα. However, the mechanisms responsible for increased IL-1β and the effect of anti-TNFα have not been fully elucidated. Recently, sterile-α and armadillo motif-containing protein (SARM) was identified as a negative regulator of toll-like receptor (TLR) induced IL-1β secretion through an interaction with the inflammasome. This study set out to investigate SARM during TLR induced IL-1β secretion in RA peripheral blood monocytes and in patients commencing anti-TNFα treatment.Monocytes were isolated from RA patients and healthy controls; disease activity was measured by DAS28. IL-1β secretion was measured by ELISA following TLR1/2, TLR4 and TLR7/8 stimulation. The mRNA expression of SARM, IL-1β and the components of the NOD-like receptor family, pyrin domain containing 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome were measured by quantitative PCR. SARM protein expression was measured by western blotting.TLR1/2 activation induced elevated IL-1β in RA monocytes compared with heathy controls (p= 0.0009), which negatively correlated with SARM expression (p = 0.0086). Lower SARM expression also correlated with higher disease activity (p = 0.0246). Additionally, patients responding to anti-TNFα treatment demonstrated a rapid upregulation of SARM, which was not observed in non-responders.Together, these data highlight a potential contribution from SARM to RA pathophysiology where decreased SARM may lead to elevated IL-1β associated with RA pathogenesis. Furthermore, the data additionally present a potential mechanism by which TNFα blockade can modify IL-1β secretion.

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Authors: Ryan S Thwaites, Sarah Unterberger, Giselle Chamberlain, Henry Gray, Kelsey Jordan, Kevin A Davies, Neil A Harrison, Sandra Sacre