BACKGROUND: Leukocyte infiltration into the central nervous system is an important feature of multiple sclerosis (MS) pathology. Among the infiltrating cells, monocytes comprise the largest population and are considered to play a dual role in the course of the disease. The enzyme tissue transglutaminase (TG2), produced by monocytes, plays a central role in monocyte adhesion/migration in animal models of MS. In the present study, we questioned whether TG2 expression is altered in monocytes from MS patients compared to healthy control (HC) subjects. Moreover, we determined the inflammatory status of these TG2-expressing monocytes, what inflammatory factor regulates TG2 expression, and whether TG2 can functionally contribute to their adhesion/migration processes.
METHODS: Primary human monocytes from MS patients and HC subjects were collected, RNA isolated and subjected to qPCR analysis. Human THP-1 monocytes were lentivirally transduced with TG2 siRNA or control and treated with various cytokines. Subsequently, mRNA levels of inflammatory factors, adhesion properties, and activity of RhoA were analyzed in interleukin (IL)-4-treated monocytes.
RESULTS: TG2 mRNA levels are significantly increased in monocytes derived from MS patients compared to HC subjects. In addition, correlation analyses indicated that TG2-expressing cells display a more anti-inflammatory, migratory profile in MS patients. Using THP-1 monocytes, we observed that IL-4 is a major trigger of TG2 expression in these cells. Furthermore, knockdown of TG2 expression leads to a pro-inflammatory profile and reduced adhesion/migration properties of IL-4-treated monocytes.
CONCLUSIONS: TG2-expressing monocytes in MS patients have a more anti-inflammatory profile. Furthermore, TG2 mediates IL-4-induced anti-inflammatory status in THP-1 monocytes, adhesion, and cytoskeletal rearrangement in vitro. We thus propose that IL-4 upregulates TG2 expression in monocytes of MS patients, driving them into an anti-inflammatory status.