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The Immunosuppressant FTY720 (Fingolimod) enhances Glycosaminoglycan depletion in articular cartilage

Martin H Stradner*, Hannes Angerer, Thomas Ortner, Florentine C Fuerst, Daniela Setznagl, Marie-Luise Kremser, Josef Hermann and Winfried B Graninger

Author Affiliations

Division of Rheumatology and Immunology, Medical University of Graz, Austria

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2011, 12:279  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-12-279

Published: 12 December 2011



FTY720 (Fingolimod) is a novel immunosuppressive drug investigated in clinical trials for organ transplantation and multiple sclerosis. It acts as a functional sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) receptor antagonist, thereby inhibiting the egress of lymphocytes from secondary lymphoid organs. As S1P is able to prevent IL-1beta induced cartilage degradation, we examined the direct impact of FTY720 on cytokine induced cartilage destruction.


Bovine chondrocytes were treated with the bioactive phosphorylated form of FTY720 (FTY720-P) in combination with IL-1beta or TNF-alpha. Expression of MMP-1,-3.-13, iNOS and ADAMTS-4,-5 and COX-2 was evaluated using quantitative real-time PCR and western blot. Glycosaminoglycan depletion from cartilage explants was determined using a 1,9-dimethylene blue assay and safranin O staining.


FTY720-P significantly reduced IL-1beta and TNF-alpha induced expression of iNOS. In contrast FTY720-P increased MMP-3 and ADAMTS-5 mRNA expression. Furthermore depletion of glycosaminoglycan from cartilage explants by IL-1beta and TNF-alpha was significantly enhanced by FTY720-P in an MMP-3 dependent manner.


Our results suggest that FTY720 may enhance cartilage degradation in pro-inflammatory environment.

chondrocyte; fingolimod; FTY720; interleukin-1β; tumor necrosis factor-α; inducible nitric oxide synthase; glycosaminoglycan