Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic, autoimmune disease characterized by inflammatory synovitis, but its pathogenesis remains unclear. NLRC5 is a newly discovered member of the NLR family that is effective in regulating autoimmunity, inflammatory responses, and cell death processes. Dexmedetomidine (DEX) has been reported to have a variety of pharmacological effects, including anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. However, the role of DEX in RA has not been explored. In adjuvant-induced arthritis (AA) rat models, DEX (10 μg/kg and 20 μg/kg) reduced the pathological score, the arthritis score, paw swelling volume, and the serum levels of IL-1β, IL-6, IL-17A, and TNF-α. Moreover, by using Western blot and real-time quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR), it was demonstrated that DEX can inhibit the expression of IL-1β, IL-6, MMP-3, MMP-9 and P-P65 in the synovial tissue of AA rats. In human rheumatoid arthritis fibroblast-like synoviocytes (RA-FLSs), DEX (250 nM and 500 nM) was found to inhibit the expression of IL-1β, IL-6, MMP-3, MMP-9, and P-P65 following stimulation with TNF-α. Moreover, DEX can inhibit the invasion and migration of RA-FLSs stimulated by TNF-α. Finally, the expression of NLRC5 in RA-FLSs and AA rat models was also reduced by DEX. After silencing NLRC5 in RA-FLSs, the expression of IL-1β, IL-6, MMP-3, MMP-9, and P-P65, as well as the invasion and migration of cells, were significantly reduced. These results indicate that DEX inhibits the invasion, migration, and inflammation of RA-FLSs by reducing the expression of NLRC5 and inhibiting the NF-κB activation.
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