a novel form of gold-based immunosuppression? Investigations of the immunosuppressive effects of metallic gold on cultured J774 macrophages and on neuronal gene expression in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurodegenerative disease caused by recurring attacks of neuroinflammation leading to neuronal death. Immune-suppressing gold salts are used for treating connective tissue diseases; however, side effects occur from systemic spread of gold ions. This is limited by exploiting macrophage-induced liberation of gold ions (dissolucytosis) from gold surfaces. Injecting gold beads in hyaluronic acid (HA) as a vehicle into the cavities of the brain can delay clinical signs of disease progression in the MS model, experimental autoimmune encephalitis (EAE). This study investigates the anti-inflammatory properties of metallic gold/HA on the gene expression of tumor necrosis factor (Tnf-α), Interleukin (Il)-1β, Il-6, Il-10, Colony-stimulating factor (Csf)-v2, Metallothionein (Mt)-1/2, Bcl-2 associated X protein (Bax) and B cell lymphoma (Bcl)-2 in cultured J774 macrophages and in rodents with early stages of EAE. Cells grew for 5 days on gold/HA or HA, then receiving 1,000 ng/mL lipopolysaccharide (LPS) as inflammatory challenge. In the EAE experiment, 12 Lewis rats received gold injections and control groups included 11 untreated and 12 HA-treated EAE rats and five healthy animals. The experiment terminated day 9 when the first ten animals showed signs of EAE, only one of which were gold-treated (1p = 0.0367). Gene expression in the macrophages showed a statistically significant decrease in Il-6, Il-1β and Il-10-response to LPS; interestingly HA induced a statistically significant increase of Il-10. In the EAE model gene expression of inflammatory cytokines increased markedly. Compared to EAE controls levels of Tnf-α, Il-1β, Il-10, Il-6, IL-2, Ifn-γ, Il-17, transforming growth factor (Tgf)-β, superoxide dismutase (Sod)-2, Mt-2 and fibroblast growth factor (Fgf)-2 were lower in the gold-treated group. HA-treated animals expressed similar or intermediate levels. Omnibus testing for reduced inflammatory response following gold-treatment was not significant, but tendencies towards a decrease in the Sod-2, Fgf-2, Il-1β response and a higher Bdnf and IL-23 gene expression were seen. In conclusion, our findings support that bio-liberation of gold from metallic gold surfaces have anti-inflammatory properties similar to classic gold compounds, warranting further studies into the pharmacological potential of this novel gold-treatment and the possible synergistic effects of hyaluronic acid.