Follistatin-like protein 1 is a mesenchyme-derived inflammatory protein and may represent a biomarker for systemic-onset juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

Wilson, D.C., Marinov, A.D., Blair, H.C., Bushnell, D.S., Thompson, S.D., Chaly, Y., Hirsch, R.
Journal   Arthritis Rheum.
Analytes Measured  
Matrix Tested   Serum, Synovial fluid
Year   2010
Volume   62
Page Numbers   2510-6
Application   Cytokines and Chemokines

OBJECTIVE: To examine both the source of follistatin-like protein 1 (FSTL-1) and the factors that induce its expression in arthritis, and to determine whether juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) is characterized by overexpression of FSTL-1.

METHODS: FSTL-1 expression patterns were analyzed by immunohistochemical staining of joint tissue derived from mice with collagen-induced arthritis. Induction of FSTL-1 secretion was assessed in osteoblasts, adipocytes, and human fibroblast-like synoviocytes in response to transforming growth factor beta (TGFbeta), interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha), and IL-6. In addition, sera and synovial fluid from children with oligoarticular, polyarticular, or systemic-onset JRA were assayed for FSTL-1 using a custom enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. FSTL-1 concentrations in these patients were assessed for correlations with the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and platelet count.

RESULTS: Immunohistochemical staining of murine joint sections demonstrated expression of FSTL-1 in all cell types of the mesenchymal lineage, including osteocytes, chondrocytes, adipocytes, and fibroblasts. FSTL-1 could be induced in osteoblasts, adipocytes, and human fibroblast-like synoviocytes by TGFbeta, IL-1beta, TNFalpha, and IL-6. The IL-1beta response was significantly greater than the TNFalpha response (P < 0.05). In human serum and synovial fluid, only those samples from children with the systemic-onset JRA subtype had elevated concentrations of FSTL-1. The synovial fluid concentrations of FSTL-1 were 2-3-fold higher than the serum concentrations. The elevation in serum FSTL-1 concentrations seen in children with systemic-onset JRA correlated closely with elevations in the ESR and platelet count.

CONCLUSION: These findings demonstrate that the arthritic joint matrix is a major source of FSTL-1 and that IL-1beta is a central mediator of FSTL-1 secretion. Furthermore, FSTL-1 may represent a useful biomarker of disease activity in systemic-onset JRA.

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