To clarify the effect of leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) on the destruction of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) joints, we investigated the production of LIF and the expression of LIF mRNA in synovial tissues from patients with RA and osteoarthritis (OA). Synovial fluids from RA were used to measure the LIF concentrations using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Immunohistochemistory and RT-PCR were used to examine the expression of LIF by synovial cells. LIF mRNA was detected in all cases in RA synovial cells. Although LIF protein was detected only in 20 cases (19%) in RA synovial fluids, LIF concentration in the synovial fluids significantly correlated with the peripheral leukocyte count (P < 0.001) and Greactive protein (CRP) (P < 0.01). Moreover, levels of IL-1β, IL-6, and IL-8, but not TNF-α, were significantly correlated with LIF in the RA synovial fluids. LIF production was promoted by IL-1β and TNF-α stimulation; in contrast, IL-1 ra and IL-4 were found to markedly decrease LIF production by cultured synovial cells. LIF appeared to be a cytokine produced by RA synovium leading to a proinflammatory secretion profile. Moreover, IL-4 and IL-1 ra may represent attenuated activity for reducing the effect of the destruction of joints by LIF.
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