Apomodulation as a novel therapeutic concept for the regulation of apoptosis in rheumatoid synoviocytes

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Fas-mediated apoptosis is observed in synoviocytes of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This process may be involved in the pathophysiology of RA. We have recently found that Fas-mediated apoptosis of RA synoviocytes is associated with activation of two signaling pathways, the c-Jun amino-terminal kinase (JNK)/activator protein-1 (AP-1) pathway, and the FADD (Fas-associated death domain protein)/Caspase-8/Caspase-3/PARP (poly(ADP-ribose)polymerase) pathway. The latter appears to be one of the major signaling pathways required for Fas-mediated apoptosis in RA synoviocytes. Interestingly, Fas-mediated apoptosis in synoviocytes may be induced at least in part by tumor necrosis factor-a. Paradoxically, tumor necrosis factor-a also causes proliferation of synoviocytes. Employing these molecular processes in the treatment of RA, we have recently shown that ex vivo gene transfer of human Fas ligand (hFasL) induced apoptosis of synoviocytes and infiltrated mononuclear cells of RA synovial tissue through cell-to-cell interaction via the Fas/FasL system. We believe that further understanding of the complex regulatory mechanisms of apoptosis in RA synoviocytes would uncover further aspects of the pathophysiologic mechanisms of RA and contribute to the development of new and effective therapies for RA.

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