Inflammation-driven bone formation in a mouse model of ankylosing spondylitis: Sequential not parallel processes

Hsu-Wen Tseng, Miranda E Pitt, Tibor T Glant, Allan F McRae, Tony J Kenna, Matthew A Brown, Allison R Pettit, Gethin P Thomas

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    Background: Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is an immune-mediated arthritis particularly targeting the spine and pelvis and is characterised by inflammation, osteoproliferation and frequently ankylosis. Current treatments that predominately
    target inflammatory pathways have disappointing efficacy in slowing disease progression. Thus, a better understanding of the causal association and pathological progression from inflammation to bone formation, particularly whether
    inflammation directly initiates osteoproliferation, is required.
    Methods: The proteoglycan-induced spondylitis (PGISp) mouse model of AS was used to histopathologically map the progressive axial disease events, assess molecular changes during disease progression and define disease progression
    using unbiased clustering of semi-quantitative histology. PGISp mice were followed over a 24-week time course. Spinal disease was assessed using a novel semi-quantitative histological scoring system that independently evaluated the
    breadth of pathological features associated with PGISp axial disease, including inflammation, joint destruction and excessive tissue formation (osteoproliferation). Matrix components were identified using immunohistochemistry.
    Results: Disease initiated with inflammation at the periphery of the intervertebral disc (IVD) adjacent to the longitudinal ligament, reminiscent of enthesitis, and was associated with upregulated tumor necrosis factor and metalloproteinases.
    After a lag phase, established inflammation was temporospatially associated with destruction of IVDs, cartilage and bone. At later time points, advanced disease was characterised by substantially reduced inflammation, excessive tissue
    formation and ectopic chondrocyte expansion. These distinct features differentiated affected mice into early, intermediate and advanced disease stages. Excessive tissue formation was observed in vertebral joints only if the IVD was destroyed as a consequence of the early inflammation. Ectopic excessive tissue was predominantly chondroidal with chondrocyte-like cells embedded within collagen type II- and X-rich matrix. This corresponded with upregulation of mRNA for cartilage markers Col2a1, sox9 and Comp. Osteophytes, though infrequent, were more prevalent in later disease.
    Conclusions: The inflammation-driven IVD destruction was shown to be a prerequisite for axial disease progression to osteoproliferation in the PGISp mouse. Osteoproliferation led to vertebral body deformity and fusion but was never seen
    concurrent with persistent inflammation, suggesting a sequential process. The findings support that early intervention with anti-inflammatory therapies will be needed to limit destructive processes and consequently prevent progression of AS.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number35
    Pages (from-to)1-12
    Number of pages12
    JournalArthritis Research and Therapy
    Issue number35
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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