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Identification of chromatin modifying mechanisms in inflammatory macrophages in rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a debilitating chronic inflammatory disease causing bone and cartilage degradation. Macrophages are known to play a role in RA pathology by producing pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, which activates immune cells, drives inflammation and facilitates the degradation of bone and cartilage. Alterations in epigenetic mechanisms, processes that regulate gene expression, have been implicated in the regulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines in RA. Therefore, the aim of this thesis was to determine specific epigenetic variation between RA patient blood and synovial fluid (SF)-derived macrophages (SF MLS). Granulocyte and macrophages colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) was used to differentiate healthy donor and RA patient blood monocytes into macrophages. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) was used to stimulate blood and SF-derived macrophages to initiate inflammatory cytokine production. A library of small molecule inhibitors was used to identify key epigenetic regulators of pro-inflammatory cytokine production. Bromodomain and extra-terminal (BET) protein inhibitors (JQ1, I-BET151, PFI-1) were the only class of inhibitor to show consistent down regulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines in both healthy and RA patient-derived macrophages. However, only JQ1 was shown to reduce TNFα production significantly in SF MLS. Transcriptional profiling of RA patient SF MLS indicated a preference for a pro-inflammatory phenotype, and a resistance to steroids (a trait found in 30% of RA patients); SF MLS production of chemokines and cytokines were not downregulated by glucocorticoids in comparison to corresponding blood-derived macrophages. However, JQ1 treatment successfully suppressed these genes. In addition, silencing of BRD4 in blood-derived macrophages from healthy donors reduced pro-inflammatory cytokine production. Chromatin immunoprecipitation studies showed BRD4 was localised to pro-inflammatory promoter regions upon LPS stimulation and displaced in the presence of JQ1. These studies identified BET proteins BRD2, 3 and 4, as essential epigenetic regulators of pro-inflammatory cytokine and chemokine production in both healthy donors and RA patient macrophages. Furthermore, the observation that BET inhibitors can regulate genes that are steroid resistant in RA patient SF MLS, highlights their therapeutic potential in RA.
Date January 2016
CreatorsRooke, Kelly
ContributorsPrinjha, Rabinder ; Swales, Catherine ; Mander, Palwinder ; Oppermann, Udo
PublisherUniversity of Oxford
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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