Macrophage migration inhibitory factor may play a protective role in osteoarthritis
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Abstract Background Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most prevalent form of arthritis and the major cause of disability and overall diminution of quality of life in the elderly population. Currently there is no cure for OA, partly due to the large gaps in our understanding of its underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms. Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) is a procytokine that mediates pleiotropic inflammatory effects in inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and ankylosing spondylitis (AS). However, data on the role of MIF in OA is limited with conflicting results. We undertook this study to investigate the role of MIF in OA by examining MIF genotype, mRNA expression, and protein levels in the Newfoundland Osteoarthritis Study. Methods One hundred nineteen end-stage knee/hip OA patients, 16 RA patients, and 113 healthy controls were included in the study. Two polymorphisms in the MIF gene, rs755622, and -794 CATT5-8, were genotyped using polymerase chain reaction–restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) and PCR followed by automated capillary electrophoresis, respectively. MIF mRNA levels in articular cartilage and subchondral bone were measured by quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Plasma concentrations of MIF, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β) were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Results rs755622 and -794 CATT5-8 genotypes were not associated with MIF mRNA or protein levels or OA (all p ≥ 0.19). MIF mRNA level in cartilage was lower in OA patients than in controls (p = 0.028) and RA patients (p = 0.004), while the levels in bone were comparable between OA patients and controls (p = 0.165). MIF protein level in plasma was lower in OA patients than in controls (p = 3.01 × 10−10), while the levels of TNF-α, IL-6 and IL-1β in plasma were all significantly higher in OA patients than in controls (all p ≤ 0.0007). Multivariable logistic regression showed lower MIF and higher IL-1β protein levels in plasma were independently associated with OA (OR per SD increase = 0.10 and 8.08; 95% CI = 0.04–0.19 and 4.42–16.82, respectively), but TNF-α and IL-6 became non-significant. Conclusions Reduced MIF mRNA and protein expression in OA patients suggested MIF might have a protective role in OA and could serve as a biomarker to differentiate OA from other joint disorders.