Antibodies specific for bovine type II collagen (CII) and Fcγ receptors play a major role in collagen-induced arthritis (CIA), a mouse model of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Our aim was to clarify the mechanism of immune complex-mediated inflammation and modulation of the disease. CII pre-immunized DBA/1 mice were intravenously boosted with extravidin coupled biotinylated monomeric CII-peptide epitope (ARGLTGRPGDA) and its complexes with biotinylated FcγRII/III specific single chain Fv (scFv) fragment. Disease scores were monitored, antibody titers and cytokines were determined by ELISA, and binding of complexes was detected by flow cytometry and immune histochemistry. Cytokine and chemokine secretion was monitored by protein profiler microarray. When intravenously administered into collagen-primed DBA/1 mice, both CII-peptide and its complex with 2.4G2 scFv significantly accelerated CIA and increased the severity of the disease, whereas the monomeric peptide and monomeric 2.4G2 scFv had no effect. FcγRII/III targeted CII-peptide complexes bound to marginal zone macrophages and dendritic cells, and significantly elevated the synthesis of peptide-specific IgG2a. Furthermore, CII-peptide containing complexes augmented the in vivo secretion of cytokines, including IL-10, IL-12, IL-17, IL-23, and chemokines (CXCL13, MIP-1, MIP-2). These data indicate that complexes formed by the CII-peptide epitope aggravate CIA by inducing the secretion of chemokines and the IL-12/23 family of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Taken together, these results suggest that the in vivo emerging immune complexes formed with autoantigen(s) may trigger the IL-12/23 dependent pathways, escalating the inflammation in RA. Thus blockade of these cytokines may be beneficial to downregulate immune complex-induced inflammation in autoimmune arthritis.
Keywords: collagen-induced arthritis, Fc gamma receptor, immune complex, inflammation, targeting