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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic progressive, inflammatory and destructive autoimmune disease, characterised by synovial joint inflammation and bone erosion. To better understand the pathophysiology and underlying immune mechanisms of RA various models of arthritis have been developed in different inbred strains of mice. Establishment of arthritis models with components of adaptive immunity in the C57BL/6J strain of mice has been difficult, and since most genetically modified mice are commonly bred on this background, there is a need to explore new ways of obtaining robust models of arthritis in this strain. This study was undertaken to establish and characterise a novel murine model of arthritis, the delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH)-arthritis model, and evaluate whether disease can be treated with compounds currently used in the treatment of RA.
DTH-arthritis was induced by eliciting a classical DTH reaction in one paw with methylated bovine serum albumin (mBSA), with the modification that a cocktail of type II collagen monoclonal antibodies was administered between the immunisation and challenge steps. Involved cell subsets and inflammatory mediators were analysed, and tissue sections evaluated histopathologically. Disease was treated prophylactically and therapeutically with compounds used in the treatment of RA.
We demonstrate that DTH-arthritis could be induced in C57BL/6 mice with paw swelling lasting for at least 28 days and that disease induction was dependent on CD4+ cells. We show that macrophages and neutrophils were heavily involved in the observed pathology and that a clear profile of inflammatory mediators associated with these cell subsets was induced locally. In addition, inflammatory markers were observed systemically. Furthermore, we demonstrate that disease could be both prevented and treated.
Our findings indicate that DTH-arthritis shares features with both collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) and human RA. DTH-arthritis is dependent on CD4+ cells for induction and can be successfully treated with TNFα-blocking biologics and dexamethasone. On the basis of our findings we believe that the DTH-arthritis model could hold potential in the preclinical screening of novel drugs targeting RA. The model is highly reproducible and has a high incidence rate with synchronised onset and progression, which strengthens its potential.