Since recent evidences point out the potential involvement of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) in the therapeutic effect of vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), the purpose of this study is to elucidate the role of VIP as a negative regulator of TLR-signaling. To this aim, we analyzed in fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or osteoarthritis (OA), the expression profile of TLR-pathway related molecules, as well as the alterations induced by LPS stimulation in RA-FLS and the effect of VIP treatment.
Cultured FLS were obtained from patients with RA or OA. RA-FLS were next stimulated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in presence or absence of VIP. The gene expression profiling of molecules involved in LPS-mediated TLR4-signaling was studied by cRNA microarray analysis.
Twenty three molecules involved in TLR signaling resulted over-expressed at mRNA level in basal RA-FLS compared to OA-FLS. Moreover, in RA-FLS, 23 of the analyzed genes were found to be up-regulated by LPS stimulation whereas 30 were not affected. VIP down-regulated the LPS-induced RNA expression of molecules involved in TLR signaling pathway. Up-regulation of RNA expression of CD14, MD2, TRAM, TRIF, IRAK4, TAB2, TRAF6 and TBK1 was corroborated by RT-PCR as well as the VIP regulatory effect. Increased protein levels of TRAF6, TBK1 and pIRAK1 after exposure to LPS, and the inhibitory effect of VIP, were described by Western blotting. As functional consequences, it was observed the VIP-induced impaired production of IL-6 and RANTES/CCL5 after LPS stimulation. In conclusion, VIP acts as a negative modulator of the TLR4-signaling by overturning the production of several checkpoints molecules of the cascade and thus, widening its potential therapeutic effects.