Background: Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is characterised by immune-mediated arthritis and osteoproliferation, ultimately leading to joint ankylosis. Whether inflammation is necessary for osteoproliferation is controversial, fuelled by the unclear efficacy of anti-inflammatory treatments on radiographic progression. In proteoglycan-induced spondylitis (PGISp), a mouse model of AS, inflammation is the prerequisite for osteoproliferation as osteoproliferation was only observed following inflammation-driven intervertebral disc (IVD) destruction. We hypothesised that early intervention with a potent anti-inflammatory therapy would protect IVD integrity and consequently alter disease progression. Methods: PGISp mice received vehicle or a combination of etanercept (ETN) plus prednisolone (PRD) therapy for 2 or 6 weeks initiated at an early disease stage. Peripheral arthritis was scored longitudinally. Spinal disease was assessed using a semi-quantitative histological scoring regimen including inflammation, joint destruction and excessive tissue formation. Results: ETN + PRD therapy significantly delayed the onset of peripheral arthritis. IVD integrity was significantly protected when treatment was commenced in early disease. Six-weeks of treatment resulted in trends towards reductions in intervertebral joint damage and excessive tissue formation. IVD score distribution was dichotomized, likely reflecting the extent of axial disease at initiation of therapy. In the sub-group of mice with high IVD destruction scores, ETN + PRD treatment significantly reduced IVD destruction severity, inflammation and bone erosion and reduced cartilage damage and excessive tissue formation. Conclusions: Early intervention with anti-inflammatory treatment not only improved inflammatory symptoms but also ameliorated structural damage of spine in PGISp mice. This preclinical observation suggests that early anti-inflammatory intervention may slow radiographic progression in AS patients.
Tseng, H. W., Glant, T. T., Brown, M. A., Kenna, T. J., Thomas, G. P., & Pettit, A. R. (2017). Early anti-inflammatory intervention ameliorates axial disease in the proteoglycan-induced spondylitis mouse model of ankylosing spondylitis. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 18(1), 1-9. . https://doi.org/10.1186/s12891-017-1600-7