Formyl peptide receptor activation inhibits the expansion of effector T cells and synovial fibroblasts and attenuates joint injury in models of rheumatoid arthritis

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Abstract

The effects of formyl peptide receptors (FPRs) on effector T cells and inflammation-causing tissue-resident cells are not well known. Here, we explored the effect of FPR activation on efferent T cell responses in models of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and on the expansion of fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS). Compound 43 (Cpd43; FPR1/2 agonist) was administered to mice with collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) or antigen-induced arthritis (AIA) after disease onset. Joint inflammation/damage and immunity were assessed. FLS were cultured with Cpd43 to test its effects on cell apoptosis and proliferation. To explore the effects of endogenous FPR2 ligands on FLS proliferation, FLS FPR2 was blocked or Annexin A1 (AnxA1) expression silenced. Cpd43 reduced arthritis severity in both models. In CIA, Cpd43 decreased CD4 T cell proliferation and survival and increased the production of the protective cytokine, IFNγ, in lymph nodes. In AIA, Cpd43 increased CD4 apoptosis and production of the anti-inflammatory IL-4, while augmenting the proportion of splenic regulatory T cells and their expression of IL-2Rα. In both models, Cpd43 increased CD4 IL-17A production, without affecting humoral immunity. FPR2 inhibitors reversed Cpd43-mediated effects on AIA and T cell immunity. Cpd43 decreased TNF-induced FLS proliferation and augmented FLS apoptosis in association with intracellular FPR2 accumulation, while endogenous AnxA1 and FPR2 reduced FLS proliferation via the ERK and NFκB pathways. Overall, FPR activation inhibits the expansion of arthritogenic effector CD4 T cells and FLS, and reduces joint injury in experimental arthritis. This suggests the therapeutic potential of FPR ligation for the treatment of RA.

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