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1.  Local secretion of corticotropin-releasing hormone in the joints of Lewis rats with inflammatory arthritis. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1992;90(6):2555-2564.
Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), the principal regulator of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, is also secreted in peripheral inflammatory sites, where it acts as a local proinflammatory agent. Arthritis-susceptible LEW/N rats have profoundly deficient hypothalamic CRH responses to inflammatory stimuli and other stressors. Arthritis-resistant F344/N rats, on the other hand, have a robust increase in hypothalamic CRH in response to the same stimuli. Contrasting with these hypothalamic CRH responses, we now show that CRH expression is markedly increased in the joints and surrounding tissues of LEW/N rats with streptococcal cell wall- and adjuvant-induced arthritis, whereas it is not increased in similarly treated F344/N rats and is only transiently increased in congenitally athymic nude LEW.rnu/rnu rats. Glucocorticoid treatment suppressed, but did not eliminate, CRH immunoreactivity in the joints of LEW/N rats. CRH mRNA was present in inflamed synovia, as well as in spinal cord, and inflamed synovia also expressed specific CRH-binding sites. We compared CRH expression in inflamed joints with another well-characterized proinflammatory neuropeptide, substance P (SP), and found that SP immunoreactivity paralleled that of CRH. In summary, although LEW/N rats have deficient hypothalamic CRH responses to inflammatory stimuli compared with F344/N rats, they express relatively high levels of CRH at the site of inflammation. Analogous to SP, CRH may be delivered to the inflammatory site by peripheral nerves and/or synthesized at the inflammatory site. These data provide further support for the concept that CRH not only triggers the pituitary-adrenal antiinflammatory cascade, but also functions as an antithetically active local mediator of acute and chronic inflammatory arthritis. These data also illustrate the complex interrelationships of the nervous, endocrine, immune, and inflammatory systems.
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PMCID: PMC443415  PMID: 1281840
2.  Coexpression of phosphotyrosine-containing proteins, platelet-derived growth factor-B, and fibroblast growth factor-1 in situ in synovial tissues of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and Lewis rats with adjuvant or streptococcal cell wall arthritis. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1993;91(2):553-565.
Fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-1 and PDGF-B-like factors have been implicated in the pathobiology of RA and animal models of this disease. Since the receptors for FGF-1 and PDGF are tyrosine kinases, we examined the expression of tyrosine phosphorylated proteins (phosphotyrosine, P-Tyr) in synovial tissues from patients with RA and osteoarthritis (OA), and rats with streptococcal cell wall (SCW) and adjuvant arthritis (AA). Synovia from patients with RA and LEW/N rats with SCW and AA arthritis, in contrast to controls, stained intensely with anti-P-Tyr antibody. The staining colocalized with PDGF-B and FGF-1 staining. Comparative immunoblot analysis showed markedly enhanced expression of a 45-kD P-Tyr protein in the inflamed synovia. Treatment with physiological concentrations of dexamethasone suppressed both arthritis and P-Tyr expression in AA. P-Tyr was only transiently expressed in athymic nude Lewis rats and was not detected in relatively arthritis-resistant F344/N rats. These data suggest that (a) FGF-1 and PDGF-B-like factors are upregulated and may induce tyrosine phosphorylation of proteins in vivo in inflammatory joint diseases, (b) persistent high level P-Tyr expression is T lymphocyte dependent, correlates with disease severity, and is strain dependent in rats, (c) corticosteroids, in physiological concentrations, downregulate P-Tyr expression in these lesions.
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PMCID: PMC287978  PMID: 7679410
3.  Gene expression profiles in the rat streptococcal cell wall-induced arthritis model identified using microarray analysis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2004;7(1):R101-R117.
Experimental arthritis models are considered valuable tools for delineating mechanisms of inflammation and autoimmune phenomena. Use of microarray-based methods represents a new and challenging approach that allows molecular dissection of complex autoimmune diseases such as arthritis. In order to characterize the temporal gene expression profile in joints from the reactivation model of streptococcal cell wall (SCW)-induced arthritis in Lewis (LEW/N) rats, total RNA was extracted from ankle joints from naïve, SCW injected, or phosphate buffered saline injected animals (time course study) and gene expression was analyzed using Affymetrix oligonucleotide microarray technology (RAE230A). After normalization and statistical analysis of data, 631 differentially expressed genes were sorted into clusters based on their levels and kinetics of expression using Spotfire® profile search and K-mean cluster analysis. Microarray-based data for a subset of genes were validated using real-time PCR TaqMan® analysis. Analysis of the microarray data identified 631 genes (441 upregulated and 190 downregulated) that were differentially expressed (Delta > 1.8, P < 0.01), showing specific levels and patterns of gene expression. The genes exhibiting the highest fold increase in expression on days -13.8, -13, or 3 were involved in chemotaxis, inflammatory response, cell adhesion and extracellular matrix remodelling. Transcriptome analysis identified 10 upregulated genes (Delta > 5), which have not previously been associated with arthritis pathology and are located in genomic regions associated with autoimmune disease. The majority of the downregulated genes were associated with metabolism, transport and regulation of muscle development. In conclusion, the present study describes the temporal expression of multiple disease-associated genes with potential pathophysiological roles in the reactivation model of SCW-induced arthritis in Lewis (LEW/N) rat. These findings improve our understanding of the molecular events that underlie the pathology in this animal model, which is potentially a valuable comparator to human rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
doi:10.1186/ar1458
PMCID: PMC1064886  PMID: 15642130
arthritis; differential gene expression; microarray; rat; SCW induced arthritis
4.  Detection of high levels of heparin binding growth factor-1 (acidic fibroblast growth factor) in inflammatory arthritic joints 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1990;110(4):1417-1426.
The synovium from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and LEW/N rats with streptococcal cell wall (SCW) arthritis, an experimental model resembling RA, is characterized by massive proliferation of synovial connective tissues and invasive destruction of periarticular bone and cartilage. Since heparin binding growth factor (HBGF)-1, the precursor of acidic fibroblast growth factor (FGF), is a potent angiogenic polypeptide and mitogen for mesenchymal cells, we sought evidence that it was involved in the synovial pathology of RA and SCW arthritis. HBGF-1 mRNA was detected in RA synovium using the polymerase chain reaction technique, and its product was immunolocalized intracellularly in both RA and osteoarthritis (OA) synovium. HBGF-1 staining was more extensive and intense in synovium of RA patients than OA and correlated with the extent and intensity of synovial mononuclear cell infiltration. HBGF-1 staining also correlated with c-Fos protein staining. In SCW arthritis, HBGF-1 immunostaining was noted in bone marrow, bone, cartilage, synovium, ligamentous and tendinous structures, as well as various dermal structures and developed early in both T-cell competent and incompetent rats. Persistent high level immunostaining of HBGF-1 was only noted in T-cell competent rats like the disease process in general. These observations implicate HBGF-1 in a multitude of biological functions in inflammatory joint diseases.
PMCID: PMC2116104  PMID: 1691192
5.  Variable severity and Ia antigen expression in streptococcal-cell-wall-induced hepatic granulomas in rats. 
Infection and Immunity  1987;55(3):674-679.
We have previously reported that a single intraperitoneal injection of an aqueous suspension of group A streptococcal cell wall (SCW) fragments induces extensive hepatic granulomas in LEW/N female rats, but not in F344/N female rats. To further understand the mechanisms underlying these differences, we compared granuloma development and class II major histocompatibility complex antigen (Ia) expression in histocompatible LEW/N, F344/N, and CAR/N female rats in response to SCW fragments of four different average molecular sizes. In LEW/N female rats, the smallest fragments (less than 5 megadaltons) induced the most severe hepatic inflammatory disease, with development of widespread granulomas composed of macrophages, lymphocytes, and a peripheral rim of fibroblasts. The largest fragments (greater than 500 megadaltons) induced equivocal disease. Fragments of intermediate size induced granulomas of intermediate severity. The extent of granuloma development, the intensity of Ia antigen expression, and the amount of SCW antigen deposited in the liver qualitatively paralleled each other. In contrast, injection of the most granulomagenic SCW fragments into F344/N and CAR/N rats did not induce granulomas. Although these rat strains are histocompatible with the LEW/N (i.e., RTL.1) strain, hepatic Ia antigen expression in these strains was not increased significantly above basal levels. The amount of SCW antigen in the livers of the resistant rat strains appeared similar to the amount in the susceptible LEW/N strain. These data indicate that granuloma development is dependent on the size of the SCW fragment and host genetic background and that Ia expression directly parallels the severity of the hepatic disease. In addition, the data suggest that non-major histocompatibility complex genetic loci play a major role in regulating the development of the hepatic disease.
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PMCID: PMC260392  PMID: 3546135
6.  Apoptotic cell-mediated suppression of streptococcal cell wall-induced arthritis is associated with alteration of macrophage function and local regulatory T-cell increase: a potential cell-based therapy? 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2009;11(4):R104.
Introduction
Experimental streptococcal cell wall (SCW)-induced arthritis is characterized by two successive phases of the disease. The acute phase occurs early and is associated with an inflammatory process and neutrophil infiltration into the synovium. The second chronic phase is related to effector T-cell activation and the dysregulation of macrophage function. Creation of an immunomodulatory environment has been attributed to apoptotic cells themselves, apoptotic cell uptake by phagocytes as well as a less sensibility of phagocytes capturing apoptotic bodies to activation. Therefore we evaluated the potential of apoptotic cell injection to influence the course of inflammation in SCW-induced arthritis in rats.
Methods
Rat apoptotic thymocytes were injected intraperitoneally (2 × 108) in addition to an arthritogenic dose of systemic SCW in LEW female rats. Control rats received SCW immunization and PBS. Rats were then followed for arthritis occurrence and circulating cytokine detection. At sacrifice, regulatory T cells (Tregs) and macrophages were analyzed.
Results
Apoptotic cell injection profoundly suppressed joint swelling and destruction typically observed during the acute and chronic phases of SCW-induced arthritis. Synovial inflammatory cell infiltration and bone destruction were also markedly suppressed. Ex vivo experiments revealed reduced levels of TNF in cultures of macrophages from rats challenged with SCW in the presence of apoptotic thymocytes as well as reduced macrophage response to lipopolysaccharide. Moreover, apoptotic cell injection induced higher Foxp3+ Tregs in the lymphoid organs, especially in the draining lymph nodes.
Conclusions
Our data indicate that apoptotic cells modulate macrophage function and result in Treg generation/increase. This may be involved in inhibition of inflammation and amelioration of arthritis. This highlights and confirms previous studies showing that in vivo generation of Tregs using apoptotic cell injection may be a useful tool to prevent and treat inflammatory autoimmune responses.
doi:10.1186/ar2750
PMCID: PMC2745779  PMID: 19570235
7.  Transin/stromelysin expression in the synovium of rats with experimental erosive arthritis. In situ localization and kinetics of expression of the transformation-associated metalloproteinase in euthymic and athymic Lewis rats. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1989;84(6):1731-1740.
Transin is a neutral metalloproteinase initially isolated from malignantly transformed rat fibroblasts and subsequently shown to be homologous to human stromelysin. We performed Northern blot analysis on synovial tissue specimens from Lewis rats with proliferative and invasive streptococcal cell wall (SCW) arthritis. Transin mRNA was present in abundance, as was the mRNA of the c-myc oncogene, which is associated with cellular proliferation. Immunohistochemical staining of synovia from rats with chronic SCW arthritis showed high-level transin expression in the cells of the lining layer and underlying stroma, as well as in chondrocytes and osteoclasts in subchondral bone. Intense nuclear staining for the Myc oncoprotein was also detected with a cross-reactive antibody to v-Myc. Transin stained similarly in the early, rapid-onset, thymus-independent, acute phase of SCW arthritis. In the T cell-dependent adjuvant arthritis, transin expression was noted by day 4, 6 d before the influx of mononuclear cells and the onset of clinical disease. Athymic rats did not express transin. We concluded that transin is a marker of proliferative, invasive arthritis in rats and appears early in the course of disease development, but requires a competent immune system to sustain its expression in these model arthropathies.
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PMCID: PMC304049  PMID: 2687329
8.  Expression of cyclooxygenase-1 and -2 in rheumatoid arthritis synovium. 
The aim of this study was to investigate the expression and localization of cyclooxygenase-1 and -2 (COX-1 and COX-2) in synovial tissues from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Synovial tissues from 9 patients with RA and 5 patients with osteoarthritis (OA) were examined for COX-1 and COX-2 expressions by immunohistochemical staining using 2 polydonal COX-1 and COX-2 antibodies. In RA synovia, synovial lining cells showed intense immunostaining for COX-1, whereas slight to moderate staining was observed in inflammatory cells, stromal fibroblast-like cells and vascular endothelial cells. There was no significant difference in COX-1 expression between RA and OA synovia. The localization of COX-2 expression dearly differed from that of COX-1 expression, being most intense in inflammatory cells. However, there was no difference in COX-1 and COX-2 expressions between RA and OA synovial tissues. Our observations support that inflammatory mechanisms modulated by COX-1 and COX-2 in chronic RA synovium might be similar to those in chronic OA synovium.
PMCID: PMC3054585  PMID: 10719816
9.  FcgammaR expression on macrophages is related to severity and chronicity of synovial inflammation and cartilage destruction during experimental immune-complex-mediated arthritis (ICA) 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(6):489-503.
We investigated the role of Fcγ receptors (FcγRs) on synovial macrophages in immune-complex-mediated arthritis (ICA). ICA elicited in knee joints of C57BL/6 mice caused a short-lasting, florid inflammation and reversible loss of proteoglycans (PGs), moderate chondrocyte death, and minor erosion of the cartilage. In contrast, when ICA was induced in knee joints of Fc receptor (FcR) γ-chain-/- C57BL/6 mice, which lack functional FcγRI and RIII, inflammation and cartilage destruction were prevented. When ICA was elicited in DBA/1 mice, a very severe, chronic inflammation was observed, and significantly more chondrocyte death and cartilage erosion than in arthritic C57BL/6 mice. The synovial lining and peritoneal macrophages of naïve DBA/1 mice expressed a significantly higher level of FcγRs than was seen in C57BL/6 mice. Moreover, elevated and prolonged expression of IL-1 was found after stimulation of these cells with immune complexes. Zymosan or streptococcal cell walls caused comparable inflammation and only mild cartilage destruction in all strains. We conclude that FcγR expression on synovial macrophages may be related to the severity of synovial inflammation and cartilage destruction during ICA.
Introduction:
Fcγ receptors (FcγRs) present on cells of the haematopoietic lineage communicate with IgG-containing immune complexes that are abundant in the synovial tissue of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In mice, three classes of FcγR (RI, RII, and RIII) have been described. Binding of these receptors leads to either activation (FcγRI and RIII) or deactivation (FcγRII) of intracellular transduction pathways. Together, the expression of activating and inhibitory receptors is thought to drive immune-complex-mediated diseases.
Earlier studies in our laboratory showed that macrophages of the synovial lining are of utmost importance in the onset and propagation of immune-complex-driven arthritic diseases. Selective depletion of macrophages in the joint downregulated both inflammation and cartilage destruction. As all three classes of FcγR are expressed on synovial macrophages, these cells are among the first that come in contact with immune complexes deposited in the joint. Recently, we observed that when immune complexes were injected into the knee joints of mice, strains susceptible to collagen-type-II arthritis (DBA/1, B10.RIII) developed more severe arthritis than nonsusceptible strains did, or even developed chronic arthritis. One reason why these strains are more susceptible might be their higher levels of FcγRs on macrophage membranes. To test this hypothesis, we investigated the role of FcγRs in inflammation and cartilage damage during immune-complex-mediated arthritis (ICA). First, we studied arthritis and subsequent cartilage damage in mice lacking functional FcγRI and RIII (FcR γ-chain-/- mice). Next, DBA/1 mice, which are prone to develop collagen-type-II arthritis (`collagen-induced arthritis'; CIA) and are hypersensitive to immune complexes, were compared with control C57BL/6 mice as regards cartilage damage and the expression and function of FcγRs on their macrophages.
Aims:
To examine whether FcγR expression on macrophages is related to severity of synovial inflammation and cartilage destruction during immune-complex-mediated joint inflammation.
Methods:
ICA was induced in three strains of mice (FcR γ-chain-/-, C57BL/6, and DBA/1, which have, respectively, no functional FcγRI and RIII, intermediate basal expression of FcγRs, and high basal expression of FcγRs) by passive immunisation using rabbit anti-lysozyme antibodies, followed by poly-L-lysine lysozyme injection into the right knee joint 1 day later. In other experiments, streptococcal-cell-wall (SCW)- or zymosan-induced arthritis was induced by injecting SCW (25 μg) or zymosan (180 μg) directly into the knee joint. At several time points after arthritis induction, knee joints were dissected and studied either histologically (using haematoxylin/eosin or safranin O staining) or immuno-histochemically. The arthritis severity and the cartilage damage were scored separately on an arbitrary scale of 0-3.
FcγRs were immunohistochemically detected using the monoclonal antibody 2.4G2, which detects both FcγRII and RIII. Deposition of IgG and C3c in the arthritic joint tissue was also detected immunohistochemically. Expression of FcγRs by murine peritoneal macrophages was measured using a fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS).
Peritoneal macrophages were stimulated using heat-aggregated gamma globulins (HAGGs), and production of IL-1 was measured using a bioassay. To assess the levels of IL-1 and its receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) during arthritis, tissue was dissected and washed in RPMI medium. Washouts were tested for levels of IL-1 and IL-1Ra using radioimmunoassay and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. mRNA was isolated from the tissue, and levels of macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-2, monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP)-1, IL-1, and IL-1Ra were determined using semiquantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).
Results:
ICA induced in knee joints of C57BL/6 mice caused a florid inflammation at day 3 after induction. To investigate whether this arthritis was FcγR-mediated, ICA was induced in FcR γ-chain-/- mice, which lack functional FcγRI and RIII. At day3, virtually no inflammatory cells were found in their knee joints. Levels of mRNA of IL-1, IL-1Ra, MCP-1, and MIP-2, which are involved in the onset of this arthritis, were significantly lower in FcR γ-chain-/- mice than in control C57BL/6 mice. Levels of IL-1 protein were also measured. At 6 h after ICA induction, FcR γ-chain-/- mice and control C57BL/6 mice showed similar IL-1 production as measured by protein level. By 24 h after induction, however, IL-1 production in the FcR γ-chain-/- mice was below the detection limit, whereas the controls were still producing a significant amount. To investigate whether the difference in reaction to immune complexes between the DBA/1 and C57BL/6 mice might be due to variable expression of FcγRs in the knee joint, expression in situ of FcγRs in naïve knee joints of these mice was determined. The monoclonal antibody 2.4G2, which detects both FcγRII and RIII, stained macrophages from the synovial lining of DBA/1 mice more intensely than those from C57BL/6 mice. This finding suggests a higher constitutive expression of FcγRs by macrophages of the autoimmune-prone DBA/1 mice. To quantify the difference in FcγR expression on macrophages of the two strains, we determined the occurrence of FcγRs on peritoneal macrophages by FACS analysis. The levels of FcγR expressed by macrophages were twice as high in the DBA/1 mice as in the C57BL/6 mice (mean fluorescence, respectively, 440 ± 50 and 240 ± 30 intensity per cell). When peritoneal macrophages of both strains were stimulated with immune complexes (HAGGs), we found that the difference in basal FcγR expression was functional. The stimulated macrophages from DBA/1 mice had significantly higher IL-1α levels (120 and 135 pg/ml at 24 and 48 h, respectively) than cells from C57BL/6 mice (45 and 50 pg/ml, respectively).
When arthritis was induced using other arthritogenic triggers than immune complexes (zymosan, SCW), all the mouse strains tested (DBA/1, FcR γ-chain-/-, and C57BL/6) showed similar inflammation, indicating that the differences described above are found only when immune complexes are used to elicit arthritis.
We next compared articular cartilage damage in arthritic joints of the three mouse strains FcR γ-chain-/-, C57BL/6 (intermediate basal expression of FcγRs), and DBA/1 (high basal expression of FcγRs). Three indicators of cartilage damage were investigated: depletion of PGs, chondrocyte death, and erosion of the cartilage matrix. At day 3 after induction of ICA, there was no PG depletion in FcR γ-chain-/- mice, whereas PG depletion in the matrix of the C57BL/6 mice was marked and that in the arthritic DBA/1 mice was even greater. PG depletion was still massive at days 7 and 14 in the DBA/1 mice, whereas by day 14 the PG content was almost completely restored in knee joints of the C57BL/6 mice. Chondrocyte death and erosion of cartilage matrix, two indicators of more severe cartilage destruction, were significantly higher in the DBA/1 than in the C57BL/6 mice, while both indicators were completely absent in the FcR γ-chain-/- mice. Again, when arthritis was induced using other triggers (SCW, zymosan), all strains showed similar PG depletion and no chondrocyte death or matrix erosion. These findings underline the important role of immune complexes and FcγRs in irreversible cartilage damage.
Discussion:
Our findings indicate that inflammation and subsequent cartilage damage caused by immune complexes may be related to the occurrence of FcγRs on macrophages. The absence of functional FcγRI and RIII prevented inflammation and cartilage destruction after induction of ICA, whereas high basal expression of FcγRs on resident joint macrophages of similarly treated mice susceptible to autoimmune arthritis was correlated with markedly more synovial inflammation and cartilage destruction. The difference in joint inflammation between the three strains was not due to different susceptibilities to inflammation per se, since intra-articular injection of zymosan or SCW caused comparable inflammation. Although extensive inflammatory cell mass was found in the synovium of all strains after intra-articular injection of zymosan, no irreversible cartilage damage (chondrocyte death or matrix erosion) was found. ICA induced in C57BL/6 and DBA/1 mice did cause irreversible cartilage damage at later time points, indicating that immune complexes and FcγRs play an important role in inducing irreversible cartilage damage. Macrophages communicate with immune complexes via Fcγ receptors. Absence of functional activating receptors completely abrogates the synovial inflammation, as was shown after ICA induction in FcR γ-chain-/- mice. However, the γ-chain is essential not only in FcγRI and RIII but also for FcεRI (found on mast cells) and the T cell receptor (TcR)-CD3 (Tcells) complex of γδT cells. However, T, B, or mast cells do not play a role in this arthritis that is induced by passive immunisation. Furthermore, this effect was not caused by a difference in clearance of IgG or complement deposition in the tissue. In this study, DBA/1 mice, which are susceptible to collagen-induced autoimmune arthritis and in a recent study have been shown to react hypersensitively to immune complexes, are shown to express higher levels of FcγRs on both synovial and peritoneal macrophages. Because antibodies directed against the different subclasses of FcγR are not available, no distinction could be made between FcγRII and RIII. Genetic differences in DBA/1 mice in genes coding for or regulating FcγRs may be responsible for altered FcγR expression. If so, these mouse strains would have a heightened risk for immune-complex-mediated diseases.
To provide conclusive evidence for the roles of the various classes of FcγR during ICA, experiments are needed in which FcγRs are blocked with specific antibodies, or in which knockout mice lacking one specific class of FcγR are used. The only available specific antibody to FcγR (2.4G2) has a stimulatory effect on cells once bound to the receptor, and therefore cannot be used in blocking experiments. Experiments using specific knockout mice are now being done in our laboratory.
Macrophages are the dominant type of cell present in chronic inflammation during RA and their number has been shown to correlate well with severe cartilage destruction. Apart from that, in humans, these synovial tissue macrophages express activating FcRs, mainly FcγIIIa, which may lead to activation of these macrophages by IgG-containing immune complexes. The expression of FcRs on the surface of these cells may have important implications for joint inflammation and severe cartilage destruction and therefore FCRs may constitute a new target for therapeutic intervention.
PMCID: PMC17821  PMID: 11056679
autoimmunity; cytokines; Fc receptors; inflammation; macrophages
10.  Role of Interleukin 17 in Arthritis Chronicity through Survival of Synoviocytes via Regulation of Synoviolin Expression 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(10):e13416.
Background
The use of TNF inhibitors has been a major progress in the treatment of chronic inflammation. However, not all patients respond. In addition, response will be often lost when treatment is stopped. These clinical aspects indicate that other cytokines might be involved and we focus here on the role of IL-17. In addition, the chronic nature of joint inflammation may contribute to reduced response and enhanced chronicity. Therefore we studied the capacity of IL-17 to regulate synoviolin, an E3 ubiquitin ligase implicated in synovial hyperplasia in human rheumatoid arthritis (RA) FLS and in chronic reactivated streptococcal cell wall (SCW)-induced arthritis.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Chronic reactivated SCW-induced arthritis was examined in IL-17R deficient and wild-type mice. Synoviolin expression was analysed by real-time RT-PCR, Western Blot or immunostaining in RA FLS and tissue, and p53 assessed by Western Blot. Apoptosis was detected by annexin V/propidium iodide staining, SS DNA apoptosis ELISA kit or TUNEL staining and proliferation by PCNA staining. IL-17 receptor A (IL-17RA), IL-17 receptor C (IL-17-RC) or synoviolin inhibition were achieved by small interfering RNA (siRNA) or neutralizing antibodies. IL-17 induced sustained synoviolin expression in RA FLS. Sodium nitroprusside (SNP)-induced RA FLS apoptosis was associated with reduced synoviolin expression and was rescued by IL-17 treatment with a corresponding increase in synoviolin expression. IL-17RC or IL-17RA RNA interference increased SNP-induced apoptosis, and decreased IL-17-induced synoviolin. IL-17 rescued RA FLS from apoptosis induced by synoviolin knockdown. IL-17 and TNF had additive effects on synoviolin expression and protection against apoptosis induced by synoviolin knowndown. In IL-17R deficient mice, a decrease in arthritis severity was characterized by increased synovial apoptosis, reduced proliferation and a marked reduction in synoviolin expression. A distinct absence of synoviolin expressing germinal centres in IL-17R deficient mice contrasted with synoviolin positive B cells and Th17 cells in synovial germinal centre-like structures.
Conclusion/Significance
IL-17 induction of synoviolin may contribute at least in part to RA chronicity by prolonging the survival of RA FLS and immune cells in germinal centre reactions. These results extend the role of IL-17 to synovial hyperplasia.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013416
PMCID: PMC2955522  PMID: 20976214
11.  Loss of laminin and of the laminin receptor integrin subunit α6 in situ correlates with cytokine induced down regulation of α6 on fibroblast-like synoviocytes from rheumatoid arthritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1998;57(9):559-565.
OBJECTIVE—To investigate in situ the expression of the integrin receptor subunits α6 and β1 and the distribution of the ligand laminin in the synovia from osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients and to study the effect of cytokines and antirheumatic drugs on the expression of the α6 and β1 integrin subunits on long term cultures of fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FBS) derived from OA and RA.
METHODS—The expression of the α6 and β1 integrin subunits and the distribution of laminin were examined immunohistochemically in normal synovia and in synovia from patients with OA and RA. The effect of proinflammatory cytokines (IL1β and TNFα), and of antirheumatic drugs (salicylic acid, dexamethasone, and methotrexate) on the α6 and β1 expression of cultured normal FBS and FBS from patients with OA and RA was determined by flow cytometry.
RESULTS—In normal synovia and in OA synovia samples with a low grade of inflammation, synovial lining cells (SLC) showed a parallel expression and distribution of α6 and laminin. In synovia samples of OA with a higher grade of inflammation and in the majority of RA synovia samples laminin was pericellularly distributed in a low number of SLC, whereas α6 was expressed on the surface of a high number of SLC. In RA synovia samples with severe inflammatory changes the gradual loss of laminin generally corresponded to a decrease of the α6 integrin subunit. β1 was always strongly expressed in all synovia samples detected. Proinflammatory cytokines up regulated the expression of α6 and β1 on OA-FBS, whereas these effectors decreased α6 and β1 on RA-FBS. In contrast, antirheumatic drugs, in particular methotrexate and dexamethasone, reduced the expression of α6 and β1 on OA-FBS, whereas the same treatment on RA-FBS stimulated the expression of these integrin subunits.
CONCLUSION—The gradual loss of laminin in chronic synovitis may contribute to the altered expression of α6 in SLC. IL1β and TNFα down regulated the expression of the α6 and β1 integrin subunits on long term cultures of FBS derived from RA. Therefore, these cytokines may be among the effectors regulating the expression of the α6 integrin subunit in SLC in vivo. As antirheumatic drugs increase the expression of α6 on RA-FBS, the presence of the laminin receptor may confer a protective effect on the synovia in vivo.

 Keywords: laminin; alpha 6; integrins; rheumatoid arthritis; osteoarthritis
PMCID: PMC1752734  PMID: 9849316
12.  Cyclooxygenase-1 and -2 expression in rheumatoid synovial tissues. Effects of interleukin-1 beta, phorbol ester, and corticosteroids. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1994;93(3):1095-1101.
High levels of immunoreactive cyclooxygenase (Cox; prostaglandin H synthase) are present in synovia from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We now show that the recently identified inducible isoform of Cox, Cox-2, is expressed in synovia from patients with RA. To further explore modulation of the Cox isoforms in RA synovial tissues, we examined the expression and modulation of Cox-1 and -2 in rheumatoid synovial explant cultures and cultured rheumatoid synovial fibroblast-like cells (synoviocytes). Immunoprecipitation of in vitro labeled proteins and Western blot analysis demonstrated the presence of both Cox-1 and -2 under basal conditions in freshly explanted rheumatoid synovial tissues. De novo synthesis of Cox-2 polypeptide was enhanced by IL-1 beta or PMA, and dramatically suppressed by dexamethasone (dex). Cox-1 expression, under the same conditions, showed only minor variation. Since mRNA for Cox-2 is highly unstable, we examined the regulation of Cox-2 transcripts in cultured rheumatoid synoviocytes. Under basal conditions both Cox-1 and -2 mRNAs were present at low levels, but Cox-2 mRNA was markedly increased by treatment with IL-1 beta or PMA. dex markedly suppressed the induction of Cox-2 mRNA. In sharp contrast, Cox-1 transcripts were not modulated by IL-1 beta or dex. These data suggest that modulation of Cox-2 expression by IL-1 beta and corticosteroids may be an important component of the inflammatory process in synovial tissues from patients with RA.
Images
PMCID: PMC294048  PMID: 8132748
13.  Anchorage-independent growth of synoviocytes from arthritic and normal joints. Stimulation by exogenous platelet-derived growth factor and inhibition by transforming growth factor-beta and retinoids. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1989;83(4):1267-1276.
Exuberant tumor-like synovial cell proliferation with invasion of periarticular bone is a feature of rheumatoid arthritis in humans and of streptococcal cell wall (SCW)-induced arthritis in rats. These histologic observations prompted us to examine synoviocytes from arthritic joints for phenotypic characteristics of transformed cells. The capacity to grow in vitro under anchorage-independent conditions is a characteristic that correlates closely with potential in vivo tumorigenicity. In medium supplemented with 20% serum or in basal media supplemented with platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), early passage synoviocytes from both SCW-induced and rheumatoid arthritic joints formed colonies in soft agarose. Epidermal growth factor (EGF), interleukin 1 (IL-1), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma), and transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) did not support growth, although EGF enhanced PDGF-dependent growth. On the other hand, TGF-beta, as well as all-trans-retinoic acid, inhibited colony growth. Early passage normal rat and human synoviocytes also grew under the same conditions, but lung, skin, and late-gestation embryonic fibroblast-like cells did not. Considered in the context of other published data our findings provide cogent evidence that synoviocytes, but not other types of fibroblast-like cells, readily acquire phenotypic characteristics commonly associated with transformed cells. Expression of the transformed phenotype in the inflammatory site is likely regulated by paracrine growth factors, such as PDGF and TGF-beta.
Images
PMCID: PMC303817  PMID: 2784799
14.  Blockade of endogenous interleukin 12 results in suppression of murine streptococcal cell wall arthritis by enhancement of interleukin 10 and interleukin 1Ra 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2000;59(3):196-205.
OBJECTIVE—The goal of this study was to investigate the role of endogenous interleukin 12 (IL12) in acute murine streptococcal cell wall (SCW) arthritis.
METHODS—C57black/6 mice were injected intraperitoneally with rat anti-murine IL12 (C17.8), shortly before induction of arthritis by intra-articular injection of 25 µg SCW fragments into the right knee joint. Joint swelling and chondrocyte synthetic function was analysed several days after induction of SCW arthritis. Local cytokine profile was determined, protein by using ELISA and mRNA by RT-PCR technology. To confirm the findings at later time points, tissue chamber model of inflammation was used. Histology was performed to examine cell influx and cartilage damage.
RESULTS—Suppression of joint swelling was noted at days 2 and 4, whereas no suppressive effect of anti-IL12 was found at day 1. Severe inhibition of chondrocyte proteoglycan synthesis was seen at day 1 in both arthritic control and anti-IL12 treated mice. However, chondrocyte function was restored at day 4 of arthritis in the anti-IL12 injected animals, but not in the arthritic controls. Moreover, cell influx in synovial tissue and joint cavity was reduced by anti-IL12 treatment. Neutralisation of IL12 reduced the local levels of IL1β, IL12 and interferon γ, when examined shortly after induction of SCW arthritis, whereas tumour necrosis factor α levels were not affected. In contrast, IL10 and IL1Ra protein and mRNA levels were strongly up regulated in synovial tissues after IL12 blockade. Enhancement of IL10 and IL1Ra by anti-IL12 was confirmed in a tissue chamber model with SCW induced inflammation.
CONCLUSIONS—This study indicates that IL12 is a pro-inflammatory cytokine during onset of acute SCW arthritis. Balances of proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines were strongly improved by anti-IL12 treatment.


doi:10.1136/ard.59.3.196
PMCID: PMC1753084  PMID: 10700428
15.  Enhanced expression of genes involved in coagulation and fibrinolysis in murine arthritis 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(6):504-512.
We have analyzed the pattern of procoagulant and fibrinolytic gene expression in affected joints during the course of arthritis in two murine models. In both models, we found an increased expression of tissue factor, tissue factor pathway inhibitor, urokinase plasminogen activator, and plasminogen activator inhibitor 1, as well as thrombin receptor. The observed pattern of gene expression tended to favor procoagulant activity, and this pattern was confirmed by functional assays. These alterations would account for persistence of fibrin within the inflamed joint, as is seen in rheumatoid arthritis.
Introduction:
Accumulation of fibrin in the joints remains one of the most striking histopathological features of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Recently, we have provided evidence of the deleterious role of synovial fibrin deposition in arthritic joints in antigen-induced arthritis (AIA), a well-established murine model of RA.
A local imbalance between fibrin formation and fibrin dissolution may result in fibrin deposition in the joints.
On the one hand, fibrin formation is mainly initiated by tissue factor (TF), a transmembrane protein serving as a receptor for factor VII. Under normal conditions, TF expression and activity are tightly regulated. Constitutive TF expression is restricted to perivascular and epithelial cells, and the catalytic activity of the TF/VIIa complex can be inhibited by tissue factor pathway inhibitor (TFPI). Pathological conditions can perturb the cell-type-restricted pattern of TF expression. In particular, recent reports have shown that transcriptional activation of TF can be mediated by molecular mechanisms involving induction of the early growth response gene 1 (EGR1) or of the protease-activated receptor (PAR1) or vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) genes.
On the other hand, fibrin degradation is mediated primarily by plasmin, which is the active form of the zymogen plasminogen. Conversion of plasminogen to plasmin is under the control of serine protease plasminogen activators, such as the urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA), and their inhibitors, such as the plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI-1).
Aims:
We hypothesized that the deposition of fibrin in the joints may result from an imbalance in the local expression of key genes involved in coagulation and fibrinolytic pathways. To test this hypothesis, we investigated mRNA levels in arthritic versus nonarthritic joint tissues from two murine models of RA: AIA and collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). Genes that are directly implicated in coagulation (TF, TFPI) and fibrinolysis (UPA, PAI1), and other genes that may influence the expression of TF (EGR1, PAR1, VEGF), were investigated using a novel multiprobe RNase protection assay (RPA). Furthermore, we evaluated coagulation activity in arthritic and nonarthritic mice.
Methods:
Mice with AIA or CIA were sacrificed at different time points: 2, 4, and 16 h and 3, 7, and 14 d after intra-articular antigen injection for AIA; 42 d after the first immunization for CIA. Total RNA was prepared from arthritic and nonarthritic knees for AIA, or arthritic and nonarthritic hind paws for CIA. Messenger RNA (mRNA) levels of the genes described above were determined by RPA and normalized to glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) mRNA levels. Coagulation assays were performed on joint tissue extracts and concentrations of thrombin-antithrombin III (TAT) complex were measured in plasma.
Results:
In AIA, all the genes studied except VEGF were upmodulated as early as 2 h. PAR1, TFPI, EGR1, and UPA expression decreased to control levels by 16 h, whereas the expression of TF and PAI1 remained elevated. At later times, only TF, PAI1, and UPA showed sustained overexpression. In CIA, gene expression was assayed at only one time point (42 d after immunization) and all genes showed higher mRNA levels in the affected paws than in control paws. In AIA mice, procoagulant activity and TF activity were significantly increased in arthritic joints, and in CIA mice, plasma TAT levels were significantly enhanced.
Discussion:
Fibrin deposition in synovia is prominent in both RA and experimental arthritis, suggesting that this protein may play a role in the pathogenesis of chronic inflammation. In this study, we have tried to shed some light on the molecular mechanisms leading to extravascular fibrin deposition, using two well-established mouse models of RA: AIA and CIA. The kinetics of gene expression was first analyzed in mice with AIA, because this model allows for an accurate, temporally controlled sampling of synovial inflammation. We then extended our observations by analyzing one time point in CIA, 42 d after immunization, when chronic inflammation is present. We found that in both models, coagulation and fibrinolysis in arthritic joints were significantly increased, and that the most significant increases were in TF and PAI-1.
Although the molecular mechanism or mechanisms responsible for the transcriptional changes observed are not completely understood, the increases in TF, PAI-1, and uPA are probably due to the production of proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-1 and TGF-α. These cytokines, whose presence in the inflamed synovium is well documented, are known to induce these genes through the activation of nuclear factor κB (NF-κB), a transcription factor. TF induction is also under the control of a proximal enhancer containing a binding site for the inducible transcription factor EGR1. Indeed, the early rise of EGR1 expression in AIA is consistent with its classification as immediate-early gene and may be responsible for the induction of early expression of TF. Early TF stimulation in AIA can also be accounted for by the transient overexpression of PAR1. Contrary to what has been shown in RA, VEGF expression remained essentially unchanged throughout the progression of AIA, probably reflecting a peculiarity of this murine model.
The alteration of the patterns of gene expression was accompanied by increased functional coagulation activity, which was more marked in AIA than in CIA.
Conclusion:
Prominent fibrin deposition in two different animal models of RA – AIA and CIA – can be attributed to modulations in key regulatory genes for coagulation and fibrinolysis.
PMCID: PMC17822  PMID: 11056680
arthritis; coagulation; fibrinolysis; mice; RNase protection
16.  A crucial role for tumor necrosis factor receptor 1 in synovial lining cells and the reticuloendothelial system in mediating experimental arthritis 
Introduction
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune inflammatory disease that mainly affects synovial joints. Biologics directed against tumor-necrosis-factor (TNF)-α are efficacious in the treatment of RA. However, the role of TNF receptor-1 (TNFR1) in mediating the TNFα effects in RA has not been elucidated and conflicting data exist in experimental arthritis models. The objective is to investigate the role of TNFR1 in the synovial lining cells (SLC) and the reticuloendothelial system (RES) during experimental arthritis.
Methods
Third generation of adenovirus serotype 5 were either injected locally in the knee joint cavity or systemically by intravenous injection into the retro-orbital venous sinus to specifically target SLC and RES, respectively. Transduction of organs was detected by immunohistochemistry of the eGFP transgene. An adenoviral vector containing a short hairpin (sh) RNA directed against TNFR1 (HpTNFR1) was constructed and functionally evaluated in vitro using a nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-κB) reporter assay and in vivo in streptococcal cell wall-induced arthritis (SCW) and collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). Adenoviruses were administered before onset of CIA, and the effect of TNFR1 targeting on the clinical development of arthritis, histology, quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), cytokine analyses and T-cell assays was evaluated.
Results
Systemic delivery of Ad5.CMV-eGFP predominantly transduced the RES in liver and spleen. Local delivery transduced the synovium and not the RES in liver, spleen and draining lymph nodes. In vitro, HpTNFR1 reduced the TNFR1 mRNA expression by three-fold resulting in a 70% reduction of TNFα-induced NF-κB activation. Local treatment with HpTNFR1 markedly reduced mRNA and protein levels of interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-6 in SLC during SCW arthritis and ameliorated CIA. Systemic targeting of TNFR1 in RES of liver and spleen by systemic delivery of Ad5 virus encoding for a small hairpin RNA against TNFR1 markedly ameliorated CIA and simultaneously reduced the mRNA expression of IL-1β, IL-6 and Saa1 (75%), in the liver and that of Th1/2/17-specific transcription factors T-bet, GATA-3 and RORγT in the spleen. Flow cytometry confirmed that HpTNFR1 reduced the numbers of interferon (IFN)γ (Th1)-, IL-4 (Th2)- and IL-17 (Th17)-producing cells in spleen.
Conclusions
TNFR1-mediated signaling in both synovial lining cells and the reticuloendothelial system independently played a major pro-inflammatory and immunoregulatory role in the development of experimental arthritis.
doi:10.1186/ar2974
PMCID: PMC2888212  PMID: 20370892
17.  Inhibition of HDAC Activity by ITF2357 Ameliorates Joint Inflammation and Prevents Cartilage and Bone Destruction in Experimental Arthritis 
Molecular Medicine  2011;17(5-6):391-396.
Inhibition of histone deacetylases (HDAC) has been shown to modulate gene expression and cytokine production after stimulation with several stimuli. In the present study, the antiinflammatory effect of a potent HDACi, ITF2357, was explored in different experimental models of arthritis. In addition, the bone protective effect of ITF2357 was investigated in vitro. Treatment of acute arthritis (Streptococcus pyogenes cell wall [SCW] arthritis) with ITF2357 showed that joint swelling and cell influx into the joint cavity were reduced. Furthermore, the chondrocyte metabolic function was improved by treatment of ITF2357. The production of proinflammatory cytokines by synovial tissue was reduced after ITF2357 treatment. To examine the effect of HDAC inhibition on joint destruction, ITF2357 was applied to both rat adjuvant arthritis and mouse collagen type II arthritis. ITF2357 treatment both ameliorates the severity scores in arthritis models and prevents bone destruction. In an in vitro bone destruction assay, ITF2357 was highly effective at a dose of 100 nmol/L. In conclusion, inhibition of HDAC prevents joint inflammation and cartilage and bone destruction in experimental arthritis.
doi:10.2119/molmed.2011.00058
PMCID: PMC3105133  PMID: 21327299
18.  Selective inhibition of cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 reverses inflammation and expression of COX-2 and interleukin 6 in rat adjuvant arthritis. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1996;97(11):2672-2679.
Prostaglandins formed by the cyclooxygenase (COX) enzymes are important mediators of inflammation in arthritis. The contribution of the inducible COX-2 enzyme to inflammation in rat adjuvant arthritis was evaluated by characterization of COX-2 expression in normal and arthritic paws and by pharmacological inhibition of COX-2 activity. The injection of adjuvant induced a marked edema of the hind footpads with coincident local production of PGE2. PG production was associated with upregulation of COX-2 mRNA and protein in the affected paws. In contrast, the level of COX-1 mRNA was unaffected by adjuvant injection. TNF-alpha and IL-6 mRNAs were also increased in the inflamed paws as was IL-6 protein in the serum. Therapeutic administration of a selective COX-2 inhibitor, SC-58125, rapidly reversed paw edema and reduced the level of PGE2 in paw tissue to baseline. Interestingly, treatment with the COX-2 inhibitor also reduced the expression of COX-2 mRNA and protein in the paw. Serum IL-6 and paw IL-6 mRNA levels were also reduced to near normal levels by SC-58125. Furthermore, inhibition of COX-2 resulted in a reduction of the inflammatory cell infiltrate and decreased inflammation of the synovium. Notably, the antiinflammatory effects of SC-58125 were indistinguishable from the effects observed for indomethacin. These results suggest that COX-2 plays a prominent role in the inflammation associated with adjuvant arthritis and that COX-2 derived PGs upregulate COX-2 and IL-6 expression at inflammatory sites.
PMCID: PMC507355  PMID: 8647962
19.  High synovial expression of the inhibitory FcγRIIb in rheumatoid arthritis 
Activating Fc gamma receptors (FcγRs) have been identified as having important roles in the inflammatory joint reaction in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and murine models of arthritis. However, the role of the inhibitory FcγRIIb in the regulation of the synovial inflammation in RA is less known. Here we have investigated synovial tissue from RA patients using a novel monoclonal antibody (GB3) specific for the FcγRIIb isoform. FcγRIIb was abundantly expressed in synovia of RA patients, in sharp contrast to the absence or weak staining of FcγRIIb in synovial biopsies from healthy volunteers. In addition, the expression of FcγRI, FcγRII and FcγRIII was analyzed in synovia obtained from early and late stages of RA. Compared with healthy synovia, which expressed FcγRII, FcγRIII but not FcγRI, all activating FcγRs were expressed and significantly up-regulated in RA, regardless of disease duration. Macrophages were one of the major cell types in the RA synovium expressing FcγRIIb and the activating FcγRs. Anti-inflammatory treatment with glucocorticoids reduced FcγR expression in arthritic joints, particularly that of FcγRI. This study demonstrates for the first time that RA patients do not fail to up-regulate FcγRIIb upon synovial inflammation, but suggests that the balance between expression of the inhibitory FcγRIIb and activating FcγRs may be in favour of the latter throughout the disease course. Anti-inflammatory drugs that target activating FcγRs may represent valuable therapeutics in this disease.
doi:10.1186/ar2206
PMCID: PMC2206344  PMID: 17521421
20.  Comparative antigen-induced gene expression profiles unveil novel aspects of susceptibility/resistance to adjuvant arthritis in rats 
Molecular immunology  2013;56(4):531-539.
Lewis (LEW) and Wistar Kyoto (WKY) rats of the same major histocompatibility complex (MHC) haplotype (RT.1l) display differential susceptibility to adjuvant-induced arthritis (AIA). LEW are susceptible while WKY are resistant to AIA. To gain insights into the mechanistic basis of these disparate outcomes, we compared the gene expression profiles of the draining lymph node cells (LNC) of these two rat strains early (day 7) following a potentially arthritogenic challenge. LNC were tested both ex vivo and after restimulation with the disease-related antigen, mycobacterial heat-shock protein 65. Biotin-labeled fragment cRNA was generated from RNA of LNC and then hybridized with an oligonucleotide-based DNA microarray chip. The differentially expressed genes (DEG) were compared by limiting the false discovery rate to <5% and fold change ≥2.0, and their association with quantitative trait loci (QTL) was analyzed. This analysis revealed a more active immune response overall in WKY than LEW rats. Important differences were observed in the association of DEG with QTL in LEW vs. WKY rats. Both the number of upregulated DEG associated with rat arthritis-QTL and their level of expression were relatively higher in LEW when compared to WKY rat; however, the number of downregulated DEG-associated with rat arthritis-QTL as well as AIA-QTL were found to be higher in WKY than in LEW rats. In conclusion, distinct gene expression profiles define arthritis-susceptible versus resistant phenotype of MHC-compatible inbred rats. These results would advance our understanding of the pathogenesis of autoimmune arthritis and might also offer potential novel targets for therapeutic purposes.
doi:10.1016/j.molimm.2013.05.230
PMCID: PMC3783567  PMID: 23911410
21.  Ectopic Lymphoid Structures Support Ongoing Production of Class-Switched Autoantibodies in Rheumatoid Synovium 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(1):e1.
Background
Follicular structures resembling germinal centres (GCs) that are characterized by follicular dendritic cell (FDC) networks have long been recognized in chronically inflamed tissues in autoimmune diseases, including the synovium of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, it is debated whether these ectopic structures promote autoimmunity and chronic inflammation driving the production of pathogenic autoantibodies. Anti-citrullinated protein/peptide antibodies (ACPA) are highly specific markers of RA, predict a poor prognosis, and have been suggested to be pathogenic. Therefore, the main study objectives were to determine whether ectopic lymphoid structures in RA synovium: (i) express activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID), the enzyme required for somatic hypermutation and class-switch recombination (CSR) of Ig genes; (ii) support ongoing CSR and ACPA production; and (iii) remain functional in a RA/severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) chimera model devoid of new immune cell influx into the synovium.
Methods and Findings
Using immunohistochemistry (IHC) and quantitative Taqman real-time PCR (QT-PCR) in synovial tissue from 55 patients with RA, we demonstrated that FDC+ structures invariably expressed AID with a distribution resembling secondary lymphoid organs. Further, AID+/CD21+ follicular structures were surrounded by ACPA+/CD138+ plasma cells, as demonstrated by immune reactivity to citrullinated fibrinogen. Moreover, we identified a novel subset of synovial AID+/CD20+ B cells outside GCs resembling interfollicular large B cells. In order to gain direct functional evidence that AID+ structures support CSR and in situ manufacturing of class-switched ACPA, 34 SCID mice were transplanted with RA synovium and humanely killed at 4 wk for harvesting of transplants and sera. Persistent expression of AID and Iγ-Cμ circular transcripts (identifying ongoing IgM-IgG class-switching) was observed in synovial grafts expressing FDCs/CD21L. Furthermore, synovial mRNA levels of AID were closely associated with circulating human IgG ACPA in mouse sera. Finally, the survival and proliferation of functional B cell niches was associated with persistent overexpression of genes regulating ectopic lymphoneogenesis.
Conclusions
Our demonstration that FDC+ follicular units invariably express AID and are surrounded by ACPA-producing plasma cells provides strong evidence that ectopic lymphoid structures in the RA synovium are functional and support autoantibody production. This concept is further confirmed by evidence of sustained AID expression, B cell proliferation, ongoing CSR, and production of human IgG ACPA from GC+ synovial tissue transplanted into SCID mice, independently of new B cell influx from the systemic circulation. These data identify AID as a potential therapeutic target in RA and suggest that survival of functional synovial B cell niches may profoundly influence chronic inflammation, autoimmunity, and response to B cell–depleting therapies.
Costantino Pitzalis and colleagues show that lymphoid structures in synovial tissue of patients with rheumatoid arthritis support production of anti-citrullinated peptide antibodies, which continues following transplantation into SCID mice.
Editors' Summary
Background.
More than 1 million people in the United States have rheumatoid arthritis, an “autoimmune” condition that affects the joints. Normally, the immune system provides protection against infection by responding to foreign antigens (molecules that are unique to invading organisms) while ignoring self-antigens present in the body's own tissues. In autoimmune diseases, this ability to discriminate between self and non-self fails for unknown reasons and the immune system begins to attack human tissues. In rheumatoid arthritis, the lining of the joints (the synovium) is attacked, it becomes inflamed and thickened, and chemicals are released that damage all the tissues in the joint. Eventually, the joint may become so scarred that movement is no longer possible. Rheumatoid arthritis usually starts in the small joints in the hands and feet, but larger joints and other tissues (including the heart and blood vessels) can be affected. Its symptoms, which tend to fluctuate, include early morning joint pain, swelling, and stiffness, and feeling generally unwell. Although the disease is not always easy to diagnose, the immune systems of many people with rheumatoid arthritis make “anti-citrullinated protein/peptide antibodies” (ACPA). These “autoantibodies” (which some experts believe can contribute to the joint damage in rheumatoid arthritis) recognize self-proteins that contain the unusual amino acid citrulline, and their detection on blood tests can help make the diagnosis. Although there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, the recently developed biologic drugs, often used together with the more traditional disease-modifying therapies, are able to halt its progression by specifically blocking the chemicals that cause joint damage. Painkillers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can reduce its symptoms, and badly damaged joints can sometimes be surgically replaced.
Why Was This Study Done?
Before scientists can develop a cure for rheumatoid arthritis, they need to know how and why autoantibodies are made that attack the joints in this common and disabling disease. B cells, the immune system cells that make antibodies, mature in structures known as “germinal centers” in the spleen and lymph nodes. In the germinal centers, immature B cells are exposed to antigens and undergo two genetic processes called “somatic hypermutation” and “class-switch recombination” that ensure that each B cell makes an antibody that sticks as tightly as possible to just one antigen. The B cells then multiply and enter the bloodstream where they help to deal with infections. Interestingly, the inflamed synovium of many patients with rheumatoid arthritis contains structures that resemble germinal centers. Could these ectopic (misplaced) lymphoid structures, which are characterized by networks of immune system cells called follicular dendritic cells (FDCs), promote autoimmunity and long-term inflammation by driving the production of autoantibodies within the joint itself? In this study, the researchers investigate this possibility.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers collected synovial tissue from 55 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and used two approaches, called immunohistochemistry and real-time PCR, to investigate whether FDC-containing structures in synovium expressed an enzyme called activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID), which is needed for both somatic hypermutation and class-switch recombination. All the FDC-containing structures that the researchers found in their samples expressed AID. Furthermore, these AID-containing structures were surrounded by mature B cells making ACPAs. To test whether these B cells were derived from AID-expressing cells resident in the synovium rather than ACPA-expressing immune system cells coming into the synovium from elsewhere in the body, the researchers transplanted synovium from patients with rheumatoid arthritis under the skin of a special sort of mouse that largely lacks its own immune system. Four weeks later, the researchers found that the transplanted human lymphoid tissue was still making AID, that the level of AID expression correlated with the amount of human ACPA in the blood of the mice, and that the B cells in the transplant were proliferating.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that the ectopic lymphoid structures present in the synovium of some patients with rheumatoid arthritis are functional and are able to make ACPA. Because ACPA may be responsible for joint damage, the survival of these structures could, therefore, be involved in the development and progression of rheumatoid arthritis. More experiments are needed to confirm this idea, but these findings may explain why drugs that effectively clear B cells from the bloodstream do not always produce a marked clinical improvement in rheumatoid arthritis. Finally, they suggest that AID might provide a new target for the development of drugs to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0060001.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Rene Toes and Tom Huizinga
The MedlinePlus Encyclopedia has a page on rheumatoid arthritis (in English and Spanish). MedlinePlus provides links to other information on rheumatoid arthritis (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices information service has detailed information on rheumatoid arthritis
The US National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases provides Fast Facts, an easy to read publication for the public, and a more detailed Handbook on rheumatoid arthritis
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an overview on rheumatoid arthritis that includes statistics about this disease and its impact on daily life
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0060001
PMCID: PMC2621263  PMID: 19143467
22.  Regulation of Peripheral Inflammation by Spinal p38 MAP Kinase in Rats 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(9):e338.
Background
Somatic afferent input to the spinal cord from a peripheral inflammatory site can modulate the peripheral response. However, the intracellular signaling mechanisms in the spinal cord that regulate this linkage have not been defined. Previous studies suggest spinal cord p38 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase and cytokines participate in nociceptive behavior. We therefore determined whether these pathways also regulate peripheral inflammation in rat adjuvant arthritis, which is a model of rheumatoid arthritis.
Methods and Findings
Selective blockade of spinal cord p38 MAP kinase by administering the p38 inhibitor SB203580 via intrathecal (IT) catheters in rats with adjuvant arthritis markedly suppressed paw swelling, inhibited synovial inflammation, and decreased radiographic evidence of joint destruction. The same dose of SB203580 delivered systemically had no effect, indicating that the effect was mediated by local concentrations in the neural compartment. Evaluation of articular gene expression by quantitative real-time PCR showed that spinal p38 inhibition markedly decreased synovial interleukin-1 and −6 and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP3) gene expression. Activation of p38 required tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) in the nervous system because IT etanercept (a TNF inhibitor) given during adjuvant arthritis blocked spinal p38 phosphorylation and reduced clinical signs of adjuvant arthritis.
Conclusions
These data suggest that peripheral inflammation is sensed by the central nervous system (CNS), which subsequently activates stress-induced kinases in the spinal cord via a TNFα-dependent mechanism. Intracellular p38 MAP kinase signaling processes this information and profoundly modulates somatic inflammatory responses. Characterization of this mechanism could have clinical and basic research implications by supporting development of new treatments for arthritis and clarifying how the CNS regulates peripheral immune responses.
Inhibition of p38 MAP kinase in the CNS reduces peripheral inflammation and joint destruction in arthritic rats.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease marked by chronic inflammation, leading to joint pain and destruction. Pain and inflammation in the joints as well as other locations in the body (i.e., the “periphery”) are constantly monitored by the central nervous system (i.e., the brain and spinal cord). Scientists have long suspected that the central nervous system (CNS) can regulate inflammation and immune responses, but little is known about how the CNS does this. One potential player is a protein called p38 that is involved in a number of cellular processes critical to the development of rheumatoid arthritis. Several substances that block the action of p38 are effective in animal models of arthritis and are currently being tested in clinical trials in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Originally, p38 was considered as a drug target that should mainly be blocked in the joints. But recent work has shown that pain in the periphery can lead to activation of p38 in the spinal cord, and that blocking p38 in the spinal cord might reduce peripheral pain.
Why Was This Study Done?
Based on the observation that p38 is activated in the CNS in response to peripheral pain, the researchers who did this study wondered whether it might be involved in the interaction between inflammation in the joints and the CNS.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
They induced inflammation in the joints of rats and then looked for responses in the spinal cord. They found that p38 was indeed activated in the spinal cord of these rats. This activation depended on another protein, called TNFα, which is another major regulator of inflammation. The scientists then blocked either p38 or the TNFα with drugs directly delivered to the spinal cord of the arthritic rats, they could substantially reduce inflammation, arthritis, and destruction of the joints, compared with rats that had undergone the same treatment but received no active drug. Treatment of arthritic rats with the same amount of drugs given directly under the skin (this is called “systemic treatment”) did not have any effect on the joints.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Blocking p38 and TNFα by giving drugs systemically is known to have beneficial effects in animal models and human patients with rheumatoid arthritis. However, the drugs tested in patients to date also have side effects. Given that much lower doses were needed to achieve beneficial effects in the rats when the drugs were administered directly into the spinal cord, it is possible that spinal cord administration might reduce the side effects (and possibly the costs) of the drugs without compromising the benefits to the patients. If future studies confirm that the action of these drugs on the CNS is essential to achieve a response even when administered as a systemic treatment, designing drugs that get into the CNS easier might improve the effectiveness and/or make it possible to use lower doses systemically.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030338.
MedlinePlus entry on rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis pages from the US National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Rheumatoid Arthritis fact sheet from the American College of Rheumatology Description
Wikipedia entry on rheumatoid arthritis (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030338
PMCID: PMC1560929  PMID: 16953659
23.  Monoarticular antigen-induced arthritis leads to pronounced bilateral upregulation of the expression of neurokinin 1 and bradykinin 2 receptors in dorsal root ganglion neurons of rats 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(5):424-427.
This study describes the upregulation of neurokinin 1 and bradykinin 2 receptors in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons in the course of antigen-induced arthritis (AIA) in the rat knee. In the acute phase of AIA, which was characterized by pronounced hyperalgesia, there was a substantial bilateral increase in the proportion of lumbar DRG neurons that express neurokinin 1 receptors (activated by substance P) and bradykinin 2 receptors. In the chronic phase the upregulation of bradykinin 2 receptors persisted on the side of inflammation. The increase in the receptor expression is relevant for the generation of acute and chronic inflammatory pain.
Introduction:
Ongoing pain and hyperalgesia (enhanced pain response to stimulation of the tissue) are major symptoms of arthritis. Arthritic pain results from the activation and sensitization of primary afferent nociceptive nerve fibres ('pain fibres') supplying the tissue (peripheral sensitization) and from the activation and sensitization of nociceptive neurons in the central nervous system (central sensitization). After sensitization, nociceptive neurons respond more strongly to mechanical and thermal stimulation of the tissue, and their activation threshold is lowered. The activation and sensitization of primary afferent fibres results from the action of inflammatory mediators such as bradykinin (BK), prostaglandins and others on membrane receptors located on these neurons. BK is a potent pain-producing substance that is contained in inflammatory exudates. Up to 50% of the primary afferent nerve fibres have receptors for BK. When primary afferent nerve fibres are activated they can release neuropeptides such as substance P (SP) and calcitonin gene-related peptide from their sensory endings in the tissue. SP contributes to the inflammatory changes in the innervated tissue (neurogenic inflammation), and it might also support the sensitization of nociceptive nerve fibres by binding to neurokinin 1 (NK1) receptors. NK1 receptors are normally expressed on a small proportion of the primary afferent nerve fibres.
Aims:
Because the expression of receptors on the primary afferent neurons is essential for the pain-producing action of inflammatory mediators and neuropeptides, we investigated in the present study whether the expression of BK and NK1 receptors on primary afferent neurons is altered during the acute and chronic phases of an antigen-induced arthritis (AIA). AIA resembles in many aspects the inflammatory process of human rheumatoid arthritis. Because peptide receptors are expressed not only in the terminals of the primary afferent units but also in the cell bodies, we removed dorsal root ganglia (DRGs) of both sides from control rats and from rats with the acute or chronic phase of AIA and determined, after short-term culture of the neurons, the proportion of DRG neurons that expressed the receptors in the different phases of AIA. We also characterized the inflammatory process and the nociceptive behaviour of the rats in the course of AIA.
Materials and methods:
In 33 female Lewis rats 10 weeks old, AIA was induced in the right knee joint. First the rats were immunized in two steps with methylated bovine serum albumin (m-BSA) emulsified with Freund's complete adjuvant, and heat-inactivated Bordetella pertussis. After immunization, m-BSA was injected into the right knee joint cavity to induce arthritis. The joint swelling was measured at regular intervals. Nociceptive (pain) responses to mechanical stimulation of the injected and the contralateral knee were monitored in the course of AIA. Groups of rats were killed at different time points after the induction of AIA, and inflammation and destruction in the knee joint were graded by histological examination. The DRGs of both sides were dissected from segments L1–L5 and C1–C7 from arthritic rats, from eight immunized rats without arthritis and from ten normal control rats. Excised DRGs were dissociated into single cells which were cultured for 18 h.
The expression of the receptors was determined by assessment of the binding of SP-gold or BK-gold to the cultured neurons. For this purpose the cells were slightly fixed. Binding of SP-gold or BK-gold was detected by using enhancement with silver and subsequent densitometric analysis of the relative grey values of the neurons. Displacement controls were performed with SP, the specific NK1 receptor agonist [Sar9, Met(O2)11]-SP, BK, the specific BK 1 (B1) receptor agonist D-Arg (Hyp3-Thi5,8-D-Phe7)-BK and the specific BK 2 (B2) receptor agonist (Des-Arg10)-Lys-BK.
Results:
The inflammatory process in the injected right knee joint started on the first day after induction of AIA and persisted throughout the observation period of 84 days (Fig. 1). The initial phase of AIA was characterized by strong joint swelling and a predominantly granulocytic infiltration of the synovial membrane and the joint cavity (acute inflammatory changes). In the later phases of AIA (10–84 days after induction of AIA) the joint showed persistent swelling, and signs of chronic arthritic alterations such as infiltration of mononuclear leucocytes, hyperplasia of synovial lining layer (pannus formation) and erosions of cartilage and bone were predominant. The contralateral knee joints appeared normal at all time points. Destruction was observed only in the injected knee but some proteoglycan loss was also noted in the non-injected, contralateral knee. In the acute and initial chronic phases of AIA (1–29 days) the rats showed mechanical hyperalgesia in the inflamed knee (limping, withdrawal response to gentle pressure onto the knee). In the acute phase (up to 9 days) a pain response was also seen when gentle pressure was applied to the contralateral knee.
Figure 2 displays the changes in the receptor expression in the DRG neurons during AIA. The expression of SP–gold-binding sites in lumbar DRG neurons (Fig. 2a) was substantially increased in the acute phase of arthritis. In untreated control rats (n = 5), 7.7 ± 3.8% of the DRG neurons from the right side and 10.0 ± 1.7% of the DRG neurons from the left side showed labelling with SP–gold. The proportion of SP–gold-labelled neurons in immunized animals without knee injection (n = 3) was similar. By contrast, at days 1 (n = 2 rats) and 3 (n = 5 rats) of AIA in the right knee, approximately 50% of the DRG neurons exhibited labelling with SP–gold, and this was seen both on the side of the injected knee and on the opposite side. At day 10 of AIA (n = 3 rats), 26.3 ± 6.1% of the ipsilateral DRG neurons but only 15.7 ± 0.6% of the contralateral neurons exhibited binding of SP–gold. At days 21 (n = 5 rats), 42 (n = 3 rats) and 84 (n = 5 rats) of AIA, the proportion of SP–gold-positive neurons had returned to the control values, although the arthritis, now with signs of chronic inflammation, was still present. Compared with the DRG neurons of the untreated control rats, the increase in the proportion of labelled neurons was significant on both sides in the acute phase (days 1 and 3) and the intermediate phase (day 10) of AIA (Mann–Whitney U-test). The size distribution of the neurons was similar in the DRG neurons of all experimental groups. Under all conditions and at all time points, SP–gold binding was found mainly in small and medium-sized (less than 700 μm2) neurons. In the cervical DRGs the expression of NK1 receptors did not change in the course of AIA. The binding of SP–gold to the neurons was suppressed by the coadministration of the specific NK1 receptor agonist [Sar9, Met(O2)11]–SP in three experiments, showing that SP–gold was bound to NK1 receptors.
The expression of BK–gold-binding sites in the lumbar DRG neurons showed also changes in the course of AIA, but the pattern was different (Fig. 2b). In untreated control rats (n = 5), 42.3 ± 3.1% of the DRG neurons of the right side and 39.6 ± 2.6% of the DRG neurons of the left side showed binding of BK–gold. At days 1 (n = 2 rats) and 3 (n = 5 rats) of AIA, approximately 80% of the DRG neurons on the side of the knee injection (ipsilateral) and approximately 70% on the opposite side were labelled. In comparison with the untreated control group, the increase in the proportion of labelled neurons was significant on both sides. The proportion of labelled neurons in the ipsilateral DRGs remained significantly increased in both the intermediate phase (day 10, n = 3 rats) and chronic phase (days 21, n = 5 rats, and 42, n = 3 rats) of inflammation. At 84 days after the induction of AIA (n = 5 rats), 51.0 ± 12.7% of the neurons showed an expression of BK–gold-binding sites and this was close to the prearthritic values. However, in the contralateral DRG of the same animals the proportion of BK–gold-labelled neurons declined in the intermediate phase (day 10) and chronic phase (days 21–84) of AIA and was not significantly different from the control value. Thus the increase in BK–gold-labelled neurons was persistent on the side where the inflammation had been induced, and transient on the opposite side. The size distribution of the DRG neurons of the different experimental groups was similar. In the cervical DRGs the expression of BK receptors did not change in the course of AIA. In another series of experiments, we determined the subtype(s) of BK receptor(s) that were expressed in DRGs L1–L5 in different experimental groups. In neither untreated control animals (n = 5) nor immunized rats without knee injection (n = 5) nor in rats at 3 days (n = 5) and 42 days (n = 5) of AIA was the binding of BK–gold decreased by the coadministration of BK–gold and the B1 agonist. By contrast, in these experimental groups the binding of BK–gold was suppressed by the coadministration of the B2 agonist. These results show that B2 receptors, but not B1 receptors, were expressed in both normal animals and in animals with AIA.
Discussion:
These results show that in AIA in the rat the expression of SP-binding and BK-binding sites in the perikarya of DRGs L1–L5 is markedly upregulated in the course of knee inflammation. Although the inflammation was induced on one side only, the initial changes in the binding sites were found in the lumbar DRGs of both sides. No upregulation of SP-binding or BK-binding sites was observed in the cervical DRGs. The expression of SP-binding sites was upregulated only in the first days of AIA, that is, in the acute phase, in which the pain responses to mechanical stimulation were most pronounced. By contrast, the upregulation of BK-binding sites on the side of AIA persisted for up to 42 days, that is, in the acute and chronic phase of AIA. Only the B2 receptor, not the B1 receptor, was upregulated. The coincidence of the enhanced expression of NK1 and BK receptors on sensory neurons and the pain behaviour suggests that the upregulation of these receptors is relevant for the generation and maintenance of arthritic pain.
In the acute phase of AIA, approximately 50% of the lumbar DRG neurons showed an expression of SP-binding sites. Because peptide receptors are transported to the periphery, the marked upregulation of SP-binding receptors probably leads to an enhanced density of receptors in the sensory endings of the primary afferent units. This will permit SP to sensitize more neurons under inflammatory conditions than under normal conditions. However, the expression of NK1 receptors was upregulated only in the acute phase of inflammation, suggesting that SP and NK1 receptors are less important for the generation of hyperalgesia in the chronic phase of AIA.
Because BK is one of the most potent algesic compounds, the functional consequence of the upregulation of BK receptors is likely to be of immediate importance for the generation and maintenance of inflammatory pain. The persistence of the upregulation of BK receptors on the side of inflammation suggests that BK receptors should be an interesting target for pain treatment in the acute and chronic phases. Only B2 receptors were identified in normal animals and in rats with AIA. This is surprising because previous pharmacological studies have provided evidence that, during inflammation, B1 receptors can be newly expressed.
Receptor upregulation in the acute phase of AIA was bilateral and almost symmetrical. However, hyperalgesia was much more pronounced on the inflamed side. It is most likely that receptors on the contralateral side were not readily activated because in the absence of gross inflammation the local concentration of the ligands BK and SP was probably quite low. We hypothesize that the bilateral changes in receptor expression are generated at least in part by mechanisms involving the nervous system. Symmetrical segmental changes can be produced only by the symmetrical innervation, involving either the sympathetic nervous system or the primary afferent fibres. Under inflammatory conditions, primary afferent fibres can be antidromically activated bilaterally in the entry zone of afferent fibres in the spinal cord, and it was proposed that this antidromic activation might release neuropeptides and thus contribute to neurogenic inflammation. Because both sympathetic efferent fibres and primary afferent nerve fibres can aggravate inflammatory symptoms, it is also conceivable that they are involved in the regulation of receptor expression in primary afferent neurons. A neurogenic mechanism might also have been responsible for the bilateral degradation of articular cartilage in the present study.
PMCID: PMC17819  PMID: 11056677
antigen-induced arthritis; bradykinin receptor; dorsal root ganglion neurons; neurokinin 1 receptor; pain
24.  T cells that are naturally tolerant to cartilage-derived type II collagen are involved in the development of collagen-induced arthritis 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(4):315-326.
The immunodominant T-cell epitope that is involved in collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) is the glycosylated type II collagen (CII) peptide 256-270. In CII transgenic mice, which express the immunodominant CII 256-270 epitope in cartilage, the CII-specific T cells are characterized by a partially tolerant state with low proliferative activity in vitro, but with maintained effector functions, such as IFN-γ secretion and ability to provide B cell help. These mice were still susceptible to CIA. The response was mainly directed to the glycosylated form of the CII 256-270 peptide, rather than to the nonglycosylated peptide. Tolerance induction was rapid; transferred T cells encountered CII within a few days. CII immunization several weeks after thymectomy of the mice did not change their susceptibility to arthritis or the induction of partial T-cell tolerance, excluding a role for recent thymic emigrants. Thus, partially tolerant CII autoreactive T cells are maintained and are crucial for the development of CIA.
Introduction:
A discussion is ongoing regarding the possible role of cartilage-directed autoimmunity as a part of the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). One possibility is that the association of RA with shared epitope-expressing DR molecules reflects a role for major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II molecules as peptide receptors, and that the predilection of the inflammatory attack for the joint indicates a role for cartilage as a source of the antigenic peptides. A direct role for CII in the development of arthritis is apparent in the CIA model, in which a definite role for MHC class II molecules and a role for CII-derived peptides have been demonstrated [1,2,3]. Remarkably, it was found that the identified MHC class II molecule in the CIA model Aq has a structurally similar peptide binding pocket to that of the shared epitope, expressing DR4 molecules [4]. In fact, DR4 (DRB1*0401) and DR1 (DRB1*0101) transgenic mice are susceptible to CIA because of an immune response to a peptide that is almost identical to that which is involved in Aq-expressing mice [5,6]. They are both derived from position 260-273 of the CII molecule; the peptide binds to the Aqmolecule with isoleucine 260 in the P1 pocket, but with phenylalanine 263 in the P1 pocket of the DR4 and DR1 molecules.
Although these findings do not prove a role for CII in RA, they show that such recognition is possible and that there are structural similarities when comparing mouse with human. However, there are also strong arguments against such a possibility. First, arthritis can evolve without evidence for a cartilage-specific autoimmunity, as seen with various adjuvant-induced arthritis models [7,8] and in several observations using transgenic animals with aberrant immunity to ubiquitously expressed proteins [9,10,11]. Moreover, the MHC association in the adjuvant arthritis models correlates with severity of the disease rather than susceptibility [7,8], as has also been observed in RA [12]. Second, it has not been possible to identify the CII-reactive T cells from RA joints, or to achieve a strong and significant CII proliferative response from T cells derived from RA joints. Most recently these negative observations were corroborated using DR4+CII peptide tetramer reagents [13]. On the other hand, it has also been difficult to isolate autoreactive CII-specific T cells from CIA, and it can be anticipated that, even in the CIA model, T cells that are specific for CII will be hard to find in the joints [4].
We believe that the explanations for these observations in both experimental animals and humans are related to tolerance. The CIA model in the mouse is usually induced with heterologous CII, and is critically dependent on an immune response to the glycosylated CII peptide 256-270, which is bound to the MHC class II Aq molecule. In CII transgenic mice, expressing the heterologous (rat) form of the immunodominant CII 256-270 epitope in cartilage, we observed partial T-cell tolerance. This tolerance is characterized by a low proliferative activity, but with maintained effector functions such as production of IFN-γ and the ability to give help to B cells to produce anti-CII IgG antibodies [14]. Interestingly, these mice were susceptible to arthritis. However, a possibility was that T cells that had newly emerged from the thymus and that were not yet tolerized when the mice were immunized with CII led to the induction of arthritis. We have now addressed this possibility and found that induction of tolerance occurs within a few days, and that mice lacking recent thymic emigrants (ie thymectomized mice) display partially tolerant T cells and susceptibility to arthritis to the same extent as nonthymectomized mice. In addition we found that T cells that are reactive with the nonmodified peptides are relatively more affected by tolerance than T cells that are reactive with the more immunodominant glycosylated variants.
Objectives:
To investigate the possibility that T cells that are naturally tolerant to the cartilage protein CII are involved in the development of arthritis, and to exclude a role for nontolerized recent thymic T-cell emigrants in the development of arthritis.
Materials and methods:
A mutated mouse CII, expressing glutamic acid instead of aspartic acid at position 266, was expressed in a transgenic mouse called MMC (mutated mouse collagen) that has been described earlier [14]. The mice were thymectomized, or sham-operated, at 7 weeks of age and allowed to recover for 4 weeks before being immunized with rat CII in complete Freund's adjuvant. Arthritis development was recorded and sera analyzed for anti-CII IgG, IgG1 and IgG2a levels. To assay T-cell effector functions, other MMC and control mice were immunized in the hind footpads with rat CII in complete Freund's adjuvant, and the draining popliteal lymph nodes were taken 10 days later. The lymph node cells (LNCs) were used for proliferation assay, IFN-γ enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and B-cell enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT). For the proliferation assay, 106 cells were put in triplicate cultures in microtitre wells together with antigen and incubated for 72h before thymidine-labelling and harvesting 15-18h later. For IFN-γ ELISA analysis, supernatant from the proliferation plates was removed before harvesting and used in an ELISA to quantify the amount of IFN-γ produced [15]. B-cell ELISPOT was performed to enumerate the number of cells producing anti-CII IgG [16].
T-cell lines that were reactive towards rat CII were established by immunization with rat CII. An established T-cell line that was reactive with CII and specific for the CII 256-270 peptide was restimulated with freshly collected, irradiated, syngenic spleen cells and rat CII for 3 days followed by 2 weeks of IL-2 containing medium. Immediately before transfer, the cells were labelled with the cytoplasmic dye 5 (and 6)-carboxyfluorescein diacetate succinimidyl ester (CFSE) [17]. Labelled cells (107) were injected intravenously into transgenic MMC mice and nontransgenic littermates. The mice were killed 4 days after cell transfer, and the concentration of CFSE-labelled cells was determined by flow cytometry.
Results and discussion:
To investigate whether and how quickly CII-reactive T cells will encounter CII in vivo, an established T-cell line that is reactive towards rat CII was labelled with the cytoplasmic dye CFSE and transferred into MMC-QD and control mice. Four days later the mice were killed, and it was found that MMC-transgenic mice had dramatically fewer CFSE-labelled cells in the spleen than did nontransgenic littermates (0.11% compared with 0.57%). Similarly, reduced numbers of CFSE-positive cells were observed in blood. This indicates that the T cells encountered the mutated CII that was present in the cartilage of MMC mice, but not in the nontransgenic littermates. Presumably, CII from cartilage is spread by antigen-presenting cells (APCs) to peripheral lymphoid organs. This observation also suggests that newly exported T cells from the thymus will be tolerized to CII in the periphery within less than 4 days.
To further investigate whether the MMC mice harbours naïve or tolerized T cells, the mice were immunized with CII at different time points after thymectomy that were well in excess of the times required for their encounter with CII. After 10 days, the response was analyzed in vitro towards both the nonglycosylated and the glycosylated CII 256-270 peptides as well as towards purified protein derivative. The galactosylated form of the peptide (Fig. 1) was used because this is the most immunodominant modification [18]. In contrast to control mice, LNCs from transgenic mice did not proliferate significantly towards the nonglycosylated peptide, indicating that these cells have been specifically tolerized, which is in accordance with earlier observations [14]. A reduced, but still significant proliferation was also observed toward the immunodominant glycosylated CII peptide. Most important, however, was that the proliferative response in the MMC mice did not decrease after thymectomy. Similarly, a significant IFN-γ production towards the glycosylated CII peptide was observed in the MMC mice. The response was somewhat reduced compared with that observed in nontransgenic littermates, and this was especially true for the response toward the nonglycosylated peptide. Again, no decrease in the MMC response by thymectomy was observed. Taken together, the T-cell response in transgenic mice was reduced in comparison with that in the nontransgenic littermates. Furthermore, the response in transgenic animals did not decrease by thymectomy (4 or 8 weeks before immunization), showing that autoreactive T cells are still maintained (and partially tolerized) with significant effector functions at least up to 8 weeks after thymectomy, excluding a exclusive role for recent thymic emigrants in the autoimmune response towards CII. To investigate whether thymectomized mice, lacking recent CII-specific thymic emigrants, were susceptible to CIA, mice were immunized with CII 4 weeks after thymectomy and were observed for arthritis development during the following 10 weeks. Clearly, the thymectomized MMC mice were susceptible to arthritis (five out of 18 developed arthritis; Fig. 2), and no significant differences in susceptibility between thymectomized and sham-operated mice, or between males and females, were seen. In accordance with earlier results [14], MMC transgenic mice had a significantly reduced susceptibility to arthritis as compared with the nontransgenic littermates (P < 0.0001 for arthritic scores, disease onset and incidence). All mice were bled at 35 days after immunization, and the total levels of anti-CII IgG were determined. Transgenic mice developed levels of anti-CII IgG significantly above background, but the antibody titres were lower than in nontransgenic littermates (P < 0.0001). No effect on the antibody levels by thymectomy was observed, nor did thethymectomy affect the distribution of IgG1 versus IgG2a titres,indicating that the observed tolerance is not associated with a shift from a T-helper-1- to a T-helper-2-like immune response. These findings show that T cells that are specific for a tissue-specific matrix protein, CII, are partially tolerized within a few days after thymus export and that these tolerized cells are maintained after thymectomy. Most important, mice that lack newly exported CII reactive T cells are still susceptible to CIA, suggesting that the partially tolerant T cells are involved in development of arthritis.
In the light of these data it is possible to explain some of the findings in RA. T-cell reactivity to CII has been shown in RA patients, but with a very weak proliferative activity [19,20]. This is fully compatible with observations in mouse and rat CIA when autologous CII, and not heterologous CII, are used for immunization. This is particularly true if the responses are recorded during the chronic phase of disease, in which the antigen-specific T-cell responses seem to be suppressed in both humans and experimental animals. These observations were confirmed in a recent report [21] in which it was shown that CII-reactive T-cell activity could be detected in RA patients if IFN-γ production but not proliferation was measured. In the present studies in mice the strongest response is seen towards post-translational modifications of the peptide. Because the T-cell contact points are the same whether the peptide is bound to DR4 or to Aq, it is fully possible that post-translational modifications of the peptide also plays a significant role in humans [22]. The fact that IgG antibodies specific for CII are found in many RA patients could be explained by maintained B-cell helper functions of CII-reactive T cells. In fact, it has been reported [23,24] that the occurrence of IgG antibodies to CII is associated with shared epitope DR4 molecules. These observations are thus compatible with a role for CII reactivity in RA. To avoid any confusion, it needs to be stressed that RA is a heterogeneous syndrome in which not only CII, but also other cartilage proteins and other mechanisms are of importance. Such a pathogenic heterogeneity is reflected by the multitude of experimental animal models that have demonstrated how many different pathways may lead to arthritis [25].
PMCID: PMC17814  PMID: 11056672
autoimmunity; rheumatoid arthritis; T lymphocytes; tolerance; transgenic
25.  Apoptosis and p53 expression in rat adjuvant arthritis 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(3):229-235.
The kinetics of apoptosis and the apoptosis-regulating gene p53 in adjuvant arthritis (AA) were investigated to assess the value of the AA rat model for testing apoptosis-inducing therapies. Very few terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate (dUTP) nick end-labeling (TUNEL)-positive cells were detected during the early phases of AA, but on day 23 (chronic arthritis) the percentage of TUNEL-positive cells was significantly increased. Expression of p53 in synovial tissue gradually increased from days 5-23, which was markedly higher than p53 levels in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) synovium. Significant apoptosis only occurs late in rat AA and is concordant with marked p53 overexpression, making it useful model for testing proapoptotic therapies, but rat AA is not the best model for p53 gene therapy because dramatic p53 overexpression occurs in the latter stages of the disease.
Introduction:
RA is a chronic inflammatory disorder that is characterized by inflammation and proliferation of synovial tissue. The amount of DNA fragmentation is significantly increased in rheumatoid synovium. Only low numbers of apoptotic cells are present in rheumatoid synovial tissue, however. The proportion of cells with DNA strand breaks is so great that this disparity suggests impaired apoptosis. Therefore, the development of novel therapeutic strategies that are aimed at inducing apoptosis in rheumatoid synovial tissue is an attractive goal.
Although animal models for arthritis only approximate RA, they provide a useful test system for the evaluation of apoptosis-inducing therapies. AA in rats is among the most commonly used animal models for RA. For the interpretation of such studies, it is essential to characterize the extent to which apoptosis occurs during the natural course of the disease. Therefore, we evaluated the number of apoptotic cells and the expression of p53 in various phases of AA.
Materials and methods:
In order to generate the AA rat model, Lewis rats were immunized with Mycobacterium tuberculosis in mineral oil on day 0. Paw swelling usually started around day 10. For the temporal analysis rats were sacrificed on days 0, 5 (prearthritis), 11 (onset of arthritis), 17 (accelerating arthritis), or 23 (chronic arthritis).
For the detection of apoptotic cells, the hind paws were harvested on days 0(n=6),5 (n=6), 11 (n=6), 17 (n=6), or 23 (n=4). The right ankle joints were fixed in formalin, decalcified in ethylenediaminetetra-acetic acid, embedded in paraffin, and sectioned. The TUNEL method was applied. The percentage of TUNEL-positive cells of the total inflammatory cell infiltrate was noted.
For Western blot analysis, hind paws were harvested on days 0 (n=2), 5 (n=3), 11 (n=4), 17 (n=4), or 23 (n=4). In addition, hind paws of normal rats (n=2) were studied. The right ankle joints were snap frozen and pulverized. Synovial tissue was also obtained by arthroscopy of three patients with longstanding (>5 years) RA. After protein extraction in lysis buffer, equal amounts of protein samples from lysates were pooled and examined by Western bolt analysis using anti-p53 monoclonal antibody D07, which recognizes wild-type and mutant p53 from rodents and humans.
For immunohistochemical analysis, six rats were sacrificed on day 23 after immunization and synovial tissue of the right ankle joints was snap frozen and evaluated by immunohistochemistry using anti-p53-pan. The sections were evaluated semi-quantitatively using a 0-4 scale.
The kruskal-Wallis test for several group means was used to compare the percentage of TUNEL-positive cells at different time points.
Results:
The percentages of TUNEL-positive cells were strongly dependent on the stage of the disease. Very few TUNEL-positive cells were detected in normal rats or in the early phases of AA; the number of TUNEL-positive cells was 1% or less of the total cell infiltrate, including neutrophils, from days 0-17 (Table 1). On day 23, however, the percentage of TUNEL-positive cells was significantly increased [15.8±5.1% (mean ± standard error of the mean); P=0.01]. TUNEL-positive cells were observed in the intimal lining layer and synovial sublining of the invasive front, as well as in the articular cartilage (Fig. 1).
Subsequently, we examined expression of the tumor suppressor gene p53, because this is a key regulator of apoptosis. Expression of p53 in pooled rat AA joint extracts gradually increased from day 0 (6 arbitrary units) to day 23 (173 arbitrary units), which was markedly higher than p53 levels in RA synovium (32 arbitrary units; Table 1). Overexpression of p53 protein on day 23 was confirmed by immunohistochemistry in a separate experiment in six rats with AA. Overexpression of p53 was observed in the intimal lining layer and synovial sublining in all rats on day 23. In all cases a semiquantitative score of 4 was assigned, indicating that 51% or more of the cells were positive, whereas control sections were negative.
Discussion:
The results presented here reveal that the number of TUNEL-positive cells remained very low until chronic arthritis developed. This indicates that, although there was sufficient DNA damage to cause an increment in p53 expression in the early phases, DNA strand breaks that can be detected by TUNEL assays only occurred in chronic AA. The observation that TUNEL-positive cells were nearly absent in early AA clearly indicates that only very few cells were undergoing programmed cell death. This is an important observation, which makes it possible to study the effects of apoptosis-inducing therapies in situ in early and accelerating AA. An effective therapy would obviously increase the number of TUNEL-positive cells.
There is already some overexpression of p53 in the preclinical phase and during the onset of the arthritis, with an additional increment in p53 expression during accelerating and chronic arthritis. Presumably, this is wild-type p53, because the disease duration is likely too short to allow for the development of p53 mutations. Transcription of p53 is probably increased in response to the toxic environment of the inflamed joint. The increased expression of p53 in the joints of rats with chronic AA was even greater than that observed in synovial tissue of RA patients with long-standing disease.
Overexpression of p53 and increased numbers of apoptotic cells did not occur simultaneously in this model; rather p53 overexpression preceded increased apoptosis. Activation of p53 leads to induction of cell growth arrest, allowing time for DNA repair. It appears that DNA damage is only extensive enough to induce apoptosis in the latter stages of AA. Factors other than p53 may also play an important role in the actual induction of apoptosis
Taken together, significant apoptosis only occurs late in AA and it follows marked p53 overexpression, making it a useful model for testing proapoptotic therapies. AA is not the best model for p53 gene therapy, however, because dramatic p53 overexpression occurs in the latter stages of the disease.
PMCID: PMC17810  PMID: 11056668
adjuvant arthritis; apoptosis; p53; rheumatoid arthritis

Results 1-25 (845159)