ABSTRACT: Surgical synovectomy to remove the inflammatory synovium can temporarily ameliorate rheumatoid inflammation and delay the progress of joint destruction. An efficient medically induced programmed cell death (apoptosis) in the rheumatoid synovium might play a role similar to synovectomy but without surgical tissue damage. Gene transfer of Fas ligand (FasL) has increased the frequency of apoptotic cells in mouse and rabbit arthritic synovium. In this study, we investigated whether repeated FasL gene transfer could remove human inflammatory synovial tissue in situ and function as a molecular synovectomy. Briefly, specimens of human synovium from joint replacement surgeries and synovectomies of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients were grafted subcutaneously into male C.B-17 severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mice. Injections of a recombinant FasL adenovirus (Ad-FasL) into the grafted synovial tissue at the dosage of 10(11) particles per mouse were performed every two weeks. Three days after the fifth virus injection, the mice were euthanized by CO2 inhalation and the human synovial tissues were collected, weighed and further examined. Compared to the control adenovirus-LacZ (Ad-LacZ) and phosphate buffered saline (PBS) injected RA synovium, the Ad-FasL injected RA synovium was dramatically reduced in size and weight (P < 0.005). The number of both synoviocytes & mononuclear cells was significantly reduced. Interestingly, an approximate 15-fold increased frequency of apoptotic cells was observed in RA synovium three days after Ad-FasL injection, compared with control tissues. In summary, our in vivo investigation of gene transfer to human synovium in SCID mice suggests that repeated intra-articular gene transfer of an apoptosis inducer, such as FasL, may function as a 'gene scalpel' for molecular synovectomy to arrest inflammatory synovium at an early stage of RA.
Arthritis research & therapy 02/2005; 7(6):R1235-43. · 4.27 Impact Factor