UMMS Affiliation

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology

Publication Date


Document Type



Biochemistry | Enzymes and Coenzymes | Musculoskeletal Diseases | Rheumatology


BACKGROUND: The relationship between lung and joint inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis is poorly understood. Lung inflammation with resultant protein citrullination may trigger anti-citrullinated protein antibodies, inflammation, and arthritis. Alternatively, lung and joint inflammation may be two manifestations of a single underlying pathology. The lung has increased citrullination and TNF-alpha levels are high in rheumatoid arthritis; however, it is unknown if TNF-alpha can induce lung protein citrullination. The citrullinating enzyme peptidylarginine deiminase 4 (PAD4) exacerbates TNF-alpha-induced arthritis, but a role for PAD4 in lung citrullination and TNF-alpha-induced lung inflammation has not been explored. Our aim was to use TNF-alpha-overexpressing mice to clarify the intersection of TNF-alpha, citrullination, PAD4, arthritis, and lung inflammation.

METHODS: Lung protein citrullination in wild-type mice, mice that overexpress TNF-alpha systemically (TNF(+)), TNF(+)PAD4(+/+), and TNF(+)PAD4(-/-) mice was quantified by both gel electrophoresis using a citrulline probe and western blot. Hematoxylin and eosin (HandE)-stained lung sections from TNF(+)PAD4(+/+) and TNF(+)PAD4(-/-) mice were scored for lung inflammation. HandE-stained ankle joint sections from mice that overexpress TNF-alpha only in the lungs were assessed for arthritis.

RESULTS: TNF(+) mice have increased lung protein citrullination. TNF(+)PAD4(-/-) mice do not have significantly reduced lung protein citrullination, but do have decreased lung inflammation compared to TNF(+)PAD4(+/+) mice. Mice that overexpress TNF-alpha only in the lungs do not develop arthritis.

CONCLUSIONS: PAD4 exacerbates lung inflammation downstream of TNF-alpha without having a major role in generalized protein citrullination in inflamed lungs. Also, TNF-alpha-induced lung inflammation is not sufficient to drive murine arthritis.

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Citation: Arthritis Res Ther. 2016 Jul 22;18(1):173. doi: 10.1186/s13075-016-1068-0. Link to article on publisher's site

Copyright © The Author(s). 2016. Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

DOI of Published Version


Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed


Citrullination, Experimental arthritis, Lung, Peptidylarginine deiminase 4, Rheumatoid arthritis, TNF-α

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Arthritis research and therapy

PubMed ID


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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