Kaihara K, Nakagawa S, Arai Y, Inoue H, Tsuchida S, Fujii Y, Kamada Y, Kishida T, Mazda O, Takahashi K.
Hypoxia inducible factor (HIF)-1α has been implicated in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). HIF-1α, which is expressed in hypoxia, is reversely suppressed in sustained hypoxia. Here, we investigated the inhibitory effect of hypoxia on arthritis by controlling HIF-1α. Rheumatoid fibroblast-like synoviocyte MH7A cells were cultured in a hypoxic incubator for up to 72 h to evaluate the expression of HIF-1. Furthermore, collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) model rats were maintained under 12% hypoxia in a hypoxic chamber for 28 days to evaluate the effect on arthritis. In MH7A cells, HIF-1α protein level increased at 3 h, peaked at 6 h, and subsequently decreased in a time-dependent manner. The transcription of pro-inflammatory cytokines increased at 1 h; however, they decreased after 3 h (p < 0.05). Deferoxamine-mediated activation of HIF-1α abolished the inhibitory effect of sustained hypoxia on pro-inflammatory cytokines. In the rat CIA model, the onset of joint swelling was delayed and arthritis was suppressed in the hypoxia group compared with the normoxia group (p < 0.05). Histologically, joint destruction was suppressed primarily in the cartilage. Thus, sustained hypoxia may represent a new safe, and potent therapeutic approach for high-risk patients with RA by suppressing HIF-1α expression.