11 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 regulates synovitis, joint destruction, and systemic bone loss in chronic polyarthritis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

External organisations

  • University of Sydney


Objective: In rheumatoid arthritis, the enzyme 11 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11β-HSD1) is highly expressed at sites of inflammation, where it converts inactive glucocorticoids (GC) to their active counterparts. In conditions of GC excess it has been shown to be a critical regulator of muscle wasting and bone loss. Here we examine the contribution of 11β-HSD1to the pathology of persistent chronic inflammatory disease

Methods: To determine the contribution of 11β-HSD1 to joint inflammation, destruction and systemic bone loss associated with persistent inflammatory arthritis, we generated mice with global and mesenchymal specific 11β-HSD1 deletions in the TNF-transgenic (TNF-tg) model of chronic polyarthritis. Disease severity was determined by clinical scoring. Histology was assessed in formalin fixed sections and fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) analysis of synovial tissue was performed. Local and systemic bone loss were measured by micro computed tomography (micro-CT). Measures of inflammation and bone metabolism were assessed in serum and in tibia mRNA.

Results: Global deletion of 11β-HSD1drove an enhanced inflammatory phenotype, characterised by florid synovitis, joint destruction and systemic bone loss. This was associated with increased pannus invasion into subchondral bone, a marked polarisation towards pro-inflammatory M1 macrophages at sites of inflammation and increased osteoclast numbers. Targeted mesenchymal deletion of 11β-HSD1 failed to recapitulate this phenotype suggesting that 11β-HSD1within leukocytes mediate its protective actions in vivo.

Conclusions: We demonstrate a fundamental role for 11β-HSD1 in the suppression of synovitis, joint destruction, and systemic bone loss. Whilst a role for 11β-HSD1 inhibitors has been proposed for metabolic complications in inflammatory diseases, our study suggests that this approach would greatly exacerbate disease severity.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-113
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Autoimmunity
Early online date8 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018