Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic inflammatory disease that mainly affects the synovial joints. Although involvement of the fibroblast growth factor (FGF) signaling pathway has been suggested as an important modulator in RA development, no clear evidence has been provided. In this study, we found that synovial fluid basic FGF (bFGF) concentration was significantly higher in RA than in osteoarthritis (OA) patients. bFGF stimulates proliferation and migration of human fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs) by activation of the bFGF-FGF receptor 3 (FGFR3)-ribosomal S6 kinase 2 (RSK2) signaling axis. Moreover, a molecular docking study revealed that kaempferol inhibited FGFR3 activity by binding to the active pocket of the FGFR3 kinase domain. Kaempferol forms hydrogen bonds with the FGFR3 backbone oxygen of Glu555 and Ala558 and the side chain of Lys508. Notably, the inhibition of bFGF-FGFR3–RSK2 signaling by kaempferol suppresses the proliferation and migration of RA FLSs and the release of activated T-cell-mediated inflammatory cytokines, such as IL-17, IL-21, and TNF-α. We further found that activated phospho-FGFR3 and -RSK2 were more highly observed in RA than in OA synovium. The hyperplastic lining and sublining lymphoid aggregate layers of RA synovium showed p-RSK2-expressing CD68+ macrophages with high frequency, while pRSK2-expressing CD4+ T-cells was observed at a lower frequency. Notably, kaempferol administration in collagen-induced arthritis mice relieved the frequency and severity of arthritis. Kaempferol reduced osteoclast differentiation in vitro and in vivo relative to the controls and was associated with the inhibition of osteoclast markers, such as tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase, integrin β3, and MMP9. Conclusively, our data suggest that bFGF-induced FGFR3–RSK2 signaling may play a critical role during the initiation and progression of RA in terms of FLS proliferation and enhanced osteoclastogenesis, and that kaempferol may be effective as a new treatment for RA.
Cell Death & Disease – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 14, 2018
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