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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the authors' final version prior to publication in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases Volume 69, Issue 1, January 2010, Pages 249-254. The published version is available at DOI: 10.1136/ard.2008.102624. Copyright © BMJ Publishing Group Ltd & European League Against Rheumatism.


OBJECTIVE: To investigate the role of junctional adhesion molecule-A (JAM-A) in the pathogenesis of systemic sclerosis (SSc).

METHODS: Biopsy specimens from proximal and distal arm skin and serum were obtained from patients with SSc and normal volunteers. To determine the expression of JAM-A on SSc dermal fibroblasts and in SSc skin, cell surface ELISAs and immunohistology were performed. An ELISA was designed to determine the amount of soluble JAM-A (sJAM-A) in serum. Myeloid U937 cell-SSc dermal fibroblast and skin adhesion assays were performed to determine the role of JAM-A in myeloid cell adhesion.

RESULTS: The stratum granulosum and dermal endothelial cells (ECs) from distal arm SSc skin exhibited significantly decreased expression of JAM-A in comparison with normal volunteers. However, sJAM-A was increased in the serum of patients with SSc compared with normal volunteers. Conversely, JAM-A was increased on the surface of SSc compared with normal dermal fibroblasts. JAM-A accounted for a significant portion of U937 binding to SSc dermal fibroblasts. In addition, JAM-A contributed to U937 adhesion to both distal and proximal SSc skin.

CONCLUSIONS: JAM-A expression is dysregulated in SSc skin. Decreased expression of JAM-A on SSc ECs may result in a reduced response to proangiogenic basic fibroblast growth factor. Increased JAM-A expression on SSc fibroblasts may serve to retain myeloid cells, which in turn secrete angiogenic factors.

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