Upregulated expression of CCR3 in rheumatoid arthritis and CCR3-dependent activation of fibroblast-like synoviocytes
OBJECTIVE Matrix metalloprotease-2 (MMP-2) and matrix metalloprotease-9 (MMP-9) play a key role in tissue remodelling after processes such as joint destruction in rheumatoid arthritis. Their expression may reflect the disease activity and they could therefore represent a useful marker to assess the efficacy of therapy. In this study MMP-2 and MMP-9 serum were evaluated in patients with chronic arthritis during therapy with the anti-TNFalpha mAb, infliximab. METHODS Fifty patients with chronic arthritis, 26 with rheumatoid arthritis and 24 with undifferentiated chronic arthritis, were recruited and treated with infliximab (3 mg/kg). Serum concentrations of MMP-2 and MMP-9 were serially measured by gelatine zymography at baseline and after two and fourteen weeks of infliximab therapy. DAS-28 and ACR response criteria were applied to assess disease activity and clinical improvement. Twenty-four healthy donors were included in the study as controls. RESULTS Although therapy with infliximab induced a statistically significant reduction of the DAS-28 score and improvement of the ACR clinical response, MMP-2 and MMP-9 serum concentrations were not modulated during therapy with infliximab. CONCLUSIONS Our study provides further evidence that blocking TNFalpha by infliximab is a powerful tool in the management of chronic arthritis. Nevertheless, infliximab does not seem to be able to modify the serum expression of MMP-2 and MMP-9, probably because modification of these enzymes is restricted to the site of joint inflammation and serum detection can not truly mirror the local situation. Additional soluble factors correlating with joint damage should be investigated as possible markers for monitoring anti-TNFalpha therapy.