Fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs) are the major effector cells that lead to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) synovitis and joint destruction. Our previous studies showed that Sonic Hedgehog (SHH) signaling pathway is involved in aberrant activation of RA-FLSs and inhibition of SHH pathway decreases proliferation and migration of RA-FLSs. The objective of this study was to investigate if the SHH pathway mediates proliferation and migration of RA-FLSs via the mitogen-activated protein kinases/extracellular signal-regulated kinases (MAPK/ERK) signaling pathway. SHH signaling was studied by using SHH agonist (Purmorphamine) and antagonist (Cyclopamine) targeting the Smoothened (SMO) in FLSs. U0126-EtOH was used to inhibit the MAPK/ERK signaling pathway. The phosphorylation of ERK 1/2 (p-ERKl/2) was examined by western blot. Cell viability was detected using cell proliferation and cytotoxicity kit-8 (CCK8), and cell cycle distribution and proliferating cells were evaluated by the flow cytometry. Cell migration was examined by Transwell assay. Results showed that, compared with the control group, Purmorphamine increased the levels of p-ERK1/2 in concentration-and time-dependent manners (P < 0.01). Co-treated with Purmorphamine and U0126-EtOH or Cyclopamine both decreased the levels of p-ERK1/2 (P < 0.05). RA-FLSs treated with Purmorphamine resulted in alteration of cell cycle distribution, increasing of proliferating cells, cell viability, and migration cells compared to controls (P < 0.01). However, the above phenomenon can be abolished by U0126-EtOH (P < 0.05). The findings suggest that SHH signaling pathway mediates proliferation and migration of RA-FLSs via MAPK/ERK pathway and may contribute to progression of RA. Targeting SHH signaling may have a therapeutic potential in patients with RA.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy