Group A streptococcal peptidoglycan has previously been shown to be arthritogenic in rats and has been implicated as a structure present in a class of possible etiologic agents for rheumatoid arthritis. The present study reports that conditioned medium from human monocytes, after interaction with cell wall sonicates of four group A streptococcal strains, stimulates the plasminogen activator (PA) activity of nonrheumatoid synovial fibroblasts. Low concentrations of N-acetylmuramyl-L-alanyl-D isoglutamine (muramyl dipeptide) can also generate this synovial activator (SA) activity from human monocytes. Preliminary biochemical data suggest that the SA activity is distinct from interferon-gamma, interleukin 1, and interleukin 2. These results indicate that agents that are arthritogenic in rats can modulate human synovial fibroblast functions via monocytes. The findings are proposed to have possible significance for an understanding of the cellular interactions involved in the formation and function of the rheumatoid pannus, because PA has been invoked as possibly being generally important for the processes of cell migration, tissue remodeling, and inflammation.

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