T cell infiltration to synovial tissue is an early pathogenic mechanism of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In the present work, we reveal that G protein coupled receptor kinase 2 (GRK2) is abundantly expressed in T cells of collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). A GRK2 inhibitor, paroxetine protects the joints from inflammation and destruction, primarily through inhibition of both CD4 + helper T (Th) cell and CD8 + cytotoxic T (Tc) cell migration to synovial tissue. Meanwhile, paroxetine restores the balance of Th/Tc, effector Th (Theff)/ naïve Th (Thnaive) and effector Tc (Tceff)/ naïve Tc (Tcnaive) to equilibrium by elevating the frequency of Thnaive, Tcnaive and regulatory Th cells; reducing the increased Theff, activated Th and Tceff, having a similar effect as methotrexate (MTX). In addition, both serum and synovial IL-1β, TNF-α and CX3CL1 expression was effectively inhibited in treated rats. In vitro assay confirmed that paroxetine inhibits CX3CL1-induced T cell migration through blocking the activity of GRK2. Among three MAPK families, paroxetine was found to be able to decrease the phosphorylation of ERK. This study elucidates that paroxetine attenuates the symptoms of CIA rats due to its inhibitory effect on T cell activation and infiltration to synovial tissue via suppression of ERK pathway.
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