, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 231-239

Tacrolimus and cyclosporine A inhibit human osteoclast formation via targeting the calcineurin-dependent NFAT pathway and an activation pathway for c-Jun or MITF in rheumatoid arthritis

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Abstract

In the present study, we aimed to determine whether tacrolimus (FK506) and cyclosporine A act directly on human osteoclast precursors obtained from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and influence monocyte–osteoclast differentiation induced by receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL) in vitro, the stage at which differentiation was affected and the manner in which tacrolimus or cyclosporine A affected the osteoclast signaling pathway. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were isolated from RA patients and cultured in the presence of RANKL and macrophage-colony stimulating factor (M-CSF). Tacrolimus or cyclosporine A was added to these cultures to determine the effect on the osteoclast differentiation. Osteoclast formation was determined by assessing the number of tartrate resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) staining cells and measuring the extent of lacunar resorption. The expression of osteoclast transcription factors, such as TNF receptor-associated factor 6 (TRAF6), nuclear factor of activated T cells c1 (NFATc1), c-Fos, c-Jun, microphthalmia transcription factor (MITF) and PU.1 in mononuclear cells (MNCs) was assayed by quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. Addition of tacrolimus or cyclosporine A resulted in a decrease in the number of TRAP-positive multinucleated cells (TRAP+ MNCs) and a decrease in the extent of lacunar resorption pit formation as compared to the control cultures; thus, human monocyte–osteoclast differentiation was more effectively inhibited at the late stage and addition of tacrolimus or cyclosporine A resulted in a decrease in the mRNA expression of NFATc1, c-Jun, and MITF at the late stage. Our results suggest that tacrolimus or cyclosporine A acts directly on human osteoclast precursors in RA patients and exerts their immunosuppressive effects on human monocyte–osteoclast formation via targeting both the calcineurin-dependent NFAT pathway and activation pathway for c-Jun or MITF.