Objective. Glucocorticoids are powerful anti-inflammatory compounds that also induce the expression of leptin and leptin receptor (Ob-R) in synovial fibroblasts through TGF-βsignalling and Smad1/5 phosphorylation. Compound A (CpdA), a selective glucocorticoid receptor agonist, reduces inflammation in murine arthritis models and does not induce diabetes or osteoporosis, thus offering an improved risk:benefit ratio in comparison with glucocorticoids. Due to the detrimental role of leptin in OA pathogenesis, we sought to determine whether CpdA also induced leptin and Ob-R protein expression as observed with prednisolone.
Methods. Human synovial fibroblasts and chondrocytes were isolated from the synovium and cartilage of OA patients after joint surgery. The cells were treated with prednisolone, TGF-β1, TNF-α and/or CpdA. Levels of leptin, IL-6, IL-8, MMP-1 and MMP-3 were measured by ELISA and expression levels of Ob-R phospho-Smad1/5, phospho-Smad2, α-tubulin and glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase were analysed by western blotting.
Results. CpdA, unlike prednisolone, did not induce leptin secretion or Ob-R protein expression in OA synovial fibroblasts. Moreover, CpdA decreased endogenous Ob-R expression and down-regulated prednisolone-induced leptin secretion and Ob-R expression. Mechanistically, CpdA, unlike prednisolone, did not induce Smad1/5 phosphorylation. CpdA, similarly to prednisolone, down-regulated endogenous and TNF-α-induced IL-6, IL-8, MMP-1 and MMP-3 protein secretion. The dissociative effect of CpdA was confirmed using chondrocytes with no induction of leptin secretion, but with a significant decrease in IL-6, IL-8, MMP-1 and MMP-3 protein secretion.
Conclusion. CpdA, unlike prednisolone, did not induce leptin or Ob-R in human OA synovial fibroblasts, thereby demonstrating an improved risk:benefit ratio.