PloS one

The calcitonin and glucocorticoids combination: mechanistic insights into their class-effect synergy in experimental arthritis.

PMID 23393556


Previous work reported the anti-arthritic synergy afforded by combining calcitonin (CT) and glucocorticoids (GC). Here we focus on the pairing of elcatonin (eCT) and dexamethasone (Dex), querying whether: i) this was a class-effect action; ii) mechanistic insights could be unveiled; iii) the synergy affected canonical GC adverse effects. Using the rat collagen-induced arthritis model, different combinations of eCT and Dex, were administered from disease onset to peak (day 11 to 18). Macroscopic disease score was monitored throughout, with biochemical and histological analyses conducted on plasma and tissues at day 18. The effect on acute hyperglycaemia and liver enzyme message were also assessed. Whilst eCT alone was inactive, it synergised at 1 µg/kg with low doses of Dex (7.5 or 15 µg/kg) to yield an anti-arthritic efficacy equivalent to a 4- to 7-fold higher Dex dose. Mechanistically, the anti-arthritic synergy corresponded to a marked attenuation in RA-relevant analytes. CXCL5 expression, in both plasma and joint, was markedly inhibited by the co-therapy. Finally, co-administration of eCT did not exacerbate metrics of GC adverse effects, and rescued some of them. We present evidence of a class-effect action for the anti-arthritic synergy of CT/GC combination, underpinned by the powerful inhibition of joint destruction markers. Furthermore, we identify CXCL5 as a marker for the combination therapy with potential diagnostic and prognostic utility. Substantial GC dose reduction, together with the absence of exacerbated adverse effects, indicated a significant clinical potential for this co-therapy in RA and beyond.