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Open Badges Editorial

Role of interleukin-7 in degenerative and inflammatory joint diseases

Joel AG van Roon* and Floris PJG Lafeber

Author Affiliations

Department of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, University Medical Center Utrecht, Heidelberglaan, 3584 CX Utrecht, The Netherlands

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2008, 10:107  doi:10.1186/ar2395

See related research by Long et al.,

Published: 18 April 2008


IL-7 is known foremost for its immunostimulatory capacities, including potent T cell-dependent catabolic effects on bone. In joint diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, IL-7, via immune activation, can induce joint destruction. Now it has been demonstrated that increased IL-7 levels are produced by human articular chondrocytes of older individuals and osteoarthritis patients. IL-7 stimulates production of proteases by IL-7 receptor-expressing chondrocytes and enhances cartilage matrix degradation. This indicates that IL-7, indirectly via immune activation, but also by a direct action on cartilage, contributes to joint destruction in rheumatic diseases.