Therapeutic manipulation of cellular apoptosis holds great promise for malignant and potentially nonmalignant diseases. A relative resistance to apoptosis in RA synovium is associated with increased expression of prosurvival Bcl-2 family members. In this study, we demonstrate that treatment of DBA/1 mice, prior to the onset of CIA with ABT-737, a BH3 mimetic targeting Bcl-2, Bcl-w, and Bcl-x L, ameliorated disease development. In contrast, treatment of mice with ABT-737 in established CIA did not alter the course of disease. ABT-737 induced lymphopenia, however pathogenic lymphoid populations in CIA mice were less affected, as shown by relatively normal T and B cell responses to CII. Naïve lymphocytes were highly sensitive to apoptosis after culture with ABT-737, but synovial macrophages and neutrophils were not. Mcl-1 was detected in synovial monocyte/macrophages and neutrophils and strikingly, its expression, rather than Bcl-2 and Bclx L, increased in the affected paws and lymphoid organs of mice with CIA. These observations implicate Mcl-1, which is not targeted by ABT-737, in the survival of inflammatory cells in established CIA and suggest that antagonism of Mcl-1 may be more effective in diseases such as RA.
- Rheumatoid arthritis