Increased intra-articular granzyme M may trigger local IFN-λ1/IL-29 response in rheumatoid arthritis

L Shan, LL van den Hoogen, J Meeldijk, HM Kok, Lieneke H. Jongeneel, ML Boes, Mark Wenink, Erik Hack, TRDJ Radstake, Joel A.G. van Roon, AN Bovenschen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective Granzymes are serine proteases involved in eliminating tumour cells and virally infected cells. In addition, extracellular granzyme levels are elevated in inflammatory conditions, including several types of infection and autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). While GrA and GrB have been associated with RA, a role for the other three granzymes (GrH, GrK, and GrM) in this disease remains unclear. Here, we aimed to investigate the presence and role of GrM and GrK in serum and synovial fluid of patients with RA, psoriatic arthritis, and osteoarthritis. Methods Granzyme levels were determined in serum, synovial fluid, peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and synovial fluid mononuclear cells (SFMCs) of RA patients and relevant control groups. In addition, the link between GrM and inflammatory cytokines in synovial fluid was investigated. Results Serum GrM and GrK levels were not affected in RA. GrM, but not GrK, levels were elevated in synovial fluid of RA patients. GrM was mainly expressed by cytotoxic lymphocytes in SFMCs with a similar expression pattern as compared with PBMCs. Intra-articular GrM expression correlated with IL-25, IL-29, XCL1, and TNFα levels. Intriguingly, purified GrM triggered the release of IL-29 (IFN-λ1) from human fibroblasts in vitro. Conclusion These data indicate that GrM levels are increased in RA synovial fluid and that GrM can stimulate proinflammatory IL-29 release from fibroblasts, suggesting a role of GrM in the pathogenesis of RA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-226
Number of pages7
JournalClinical and Experimental Rheumatology
Issue number2
Early online date6 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • cytokines
  • granzyme
  • inflammation
  • rheumatoid arthritis


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