Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic symmetric polyarticular joint disease that primarily affects the small joints of the hands and feet. The inflammatory process is characterized by infiltration of inflammatory cells into the joints, leading to proliferation of synoviocytes and destruction of cartilage and bone. In RA synovial tissue, the infiltrating cells such as macrophages, T cells, B cells and dendritic cells play important role in the pathogenesis of RA. Migration of leukocytes into the synovium is a regulated multi-step process, involving interactions between leukocytes and endothelial cells, cellular adhesion molecules, as well as chemokines and chemokine receptors. Chemokines are small, chemoattractant cytokines which play key roles in the accumulation of inflammatory cells at the site of inflammation. It is known that synovial tissue and synovial fluid from RA patients contain increased concentrations of several chemokines, such as monocyte chemoattractant protein-4 (MCP-4)/CCL13, pulmonary and activation-regulated chemokine (PARC)/CCL18, monokine induced by interferon-γ (Mig)/CXCL9, stromal cell-derived factor 1 (SDF-1)/CXCL12, monocyte chemotactic protein 1 (MCP-1)/CCL2, macrophage inflammatory protein 1α (MIP-1α)/CCL3, and Fractalkine/CXC3CL1. Therefore, chemokines and chemokine-receptors are considered to be important molecules in RA pathology.
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