Angiotensin II upregulates RANKL/NFATC1 expression in synovial cells from patients with rheumatoid arthritis through the ERK1/2 and JNK pathways.

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Angiotensin II (Ang II) is associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) development. The present study investigated the impact of Ang II on the expression of receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB ligand (RANKL), as well as of nuclear factor of activated T cells cytoplasmic 1 (NFATC1) in RA synovial cells, and explored the underlying mechanism.The expression levels of RANKL, NFATC1, and Ang II type 1 receptor (AT1R) were analyzed by RT PCR, western-blot, and/or immunohistochemistry. Western blot was also used to analyze the p38MAPK, JNK, and ERK1/2 pathways.The expressions of RANKL and NFATC1 increased in synovial tissues of RA compared to osteoarthritis (OA) synovial tissues. The expression of RANKL was upregulated by Ang II, and this effect was mitigated by an AT1R blocker but not by an AT2R blocker. Furthermore, Ang II activated the ERK1/2, JNK, and p38MAPK pathways, and this effect was blocked by the AT1R blocker. However, ERK1/2 and JNK inhibitors, but not a p38MAPK inhibitor, blocked Ang II-induced RANKL expression. Ang II also increased the level of NFATC1, and this upregulation was attenuated by AT1R blockade, ERK1/2 and JNK inhibition, and siRNA-mediated RANKL silencing, but not by AT2R blockade or p38MAPK inhibition.Our results indicated that Ang II activated the ERK1/2 and JNK pathways via AT1R, thus upregulating RANKL and NFATC1 expressions in RA synovial cells.

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Authors: Zhiping Zhao, Yongtao Zhang, Changyao Wang, Xiangyu Wang, Yingzhen Wang, Haining Zhang