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1.  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.
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.
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
2.  T Cells Stimulated by an Analog Peptide of Type II Collagen Require FcRγ to Secrete IL-4 and Suppress Autoimmune Arthritis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2011;63(9):2661-2670.
Using the collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) model, we explored the characteristics of the T cell population which responds to an analog peptide (A9) of type II collagen (CII) and regulates autoimmunity.
A9 is a 26 amino acid peptide analogous to the sequence of a segment of CII (CII 245-270) but with substitutions made at amino acid positions 260 (alanine for isoleucine), 261 (hydroxyproline for alanine), and 263 (asparagine for phenylalanine). We have previously shown that A9 profoundly suppresses immunity to CII and CIA. In order to determine the mechanism of suppression, we used a transgenic mouse whose T cells express a CII specific receptor (TCR) and performed passive cell transfer experiments.
The results demonstrate that suppression of CIA by the A9 is dependent upon T cells. Using multiparameter flow cytometry, we determined that the cells responsible for suppression were CD4+ and expressed high levels of FcεRIγ(FcRγ). To establish the significance of this finding, we obtained mice genetically deficient in FcRγ to perform passive transfer experiments. The resulting FcRγ-/- CD4+ T cells when primed by culture with A9 could not transfer the suppression of arthritis nor secrete cytokines in response to A9.
Taken together, these data suggest that the suppression of arthritis and the Th2 cytokine profile elicited by A9 is dependent upon the presence of FcRγ in the T cells. These findings are novel and may have therapeutic potential for patients with autoimmune arthritis.
PMCID: PMC3575180  PMID: 21590683
3.  T Cell Receptor-Signaling Induced by an Analog Peptide of type II Collagen Requires Activation of Syk 
Clinical immunology (Orlando, Fla.)  2009;133(1):145-153.
We have previously described an analog peptide of type II collagen (CII) that can suppress collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). This analog peptide represents CII245-270, the immunodominant epitope of CII, but with substitutions at 260, 261, and 263 - CII245-270 (A260, B261, and N263) (A9). To elucidate the mechanisms responsible for suppression, we used mice transgenic for a collagen-specific T cell receptor (TCR). When we found that APCs pulsed with A9 failed to induce T cell phosphorylation of TCR-? and ZAP-70, we explored alternative signaling pathways. We determined that A9 instead induced phosphorylation of spleen tyrosine kinase (Syk). The importance of Syk was confirmed by the use of chemical Syk inhibitors, which blocked both cytokine secretion and activation of GATA-3 mediated by peptide A9. In summary, T cells use an alternative pathway in response to A9 that involves Syk. This novel T cell pathway may represent an important means for altering T cell phenotypes.
PMCID: PMC2756788  PMID: 19596610
Collagen II; T cells; altered peptide ligands; T cell signaling; Syk (spleen tyrosine kinase); autoimmunity
4.  Visualization and phenotyping of proinflammatory antigen-specific T cells during collagen-induced arthritis in a mouse with a fixed collagen type II-specific transgenic T-cell receptor β-chain 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2010;12(4):R155.
The Vβ12-transgenic mouse was previously generated to investigate the role of antigen-specific T cells in collagen-induced arthritis (CIA), an animal model for rheumatoid arthritis. This mouse expresses a transgenic collagen type II (CII)-specific T-cell receptor (TCR) β-chain and consequently displays an increased immunity to CII and increased susceptibility to CIA. However, while the transgenic Vβ12 chain recombines with endogenous α-chains, the frequency and distribution of CII-specific T cells in the Vβ12-transgenic mouse has not been determined. The aim of the present report was to establish a system enabling identification of CII-specific T cells in the Vβ12-transgenic mouse in order to determine to what extent the transgenic expression of the CII-specific β-chain would skew the response towards the immunodominant galactosylated T-cell epitope and to use this system to monitor these cells throughout development of CIA.
We have generated and thoroughly characterized a clonotypic antibody, which recognizes a TCR specific for the galactosylated CII(260-270) peptide in the Vβ12-transgenic mouse. Hereby, CII-specific T cells could be quantified and followed throughout development of CIA, and their phenotype was determined by combinatorial analysis with the early activation marker CD154 (CD40L) and production of cytokines.
The Vβ12-transgenic mouse expresses several related but distinct T-cell clones specific for the galactosylated CII peptide. The clonotypic antibody could specifically recognize the majority (80%) of these. Clonotypic T cells occurred at low levels in the naïve mouse, but rapidly expanded to around 4% of the CD4+ T cells, whereupon the frequency declined with developing disease. Analysis of the cytokine profile revealed an early Th1-biased response in the draining lymph nodes that would shift to also include Th17 around the onset of arthritis. Data showed that Th1 and Th17 constitute a minority among the CII-specific population, however, indicating that additional subpopulations of antigen-specific T cells regulate the development of CIA.
The established system enables the detection and detailed phenotyping of T cells specific for the galactosylated CII peptide and constitutes a powerful tool for analysis of the importance of these cells and their effector functions throughout the different phases of arthritis.
PMCID: PMC2945055  PMID: 20682070
5.  Comparative analysis of collagen type II-specific immune responses during development of collagen-induced arthritis in two B10 mouse strains 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(6):R237.
Immune responses against collagen type II (CII) are crucial for the development of collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). The aim of the present study was to evaluate and compare the CII-directed T cell and antibody specificity at different time points in the course of CIA using two mouse strains on the B10 genetic background - B10.Q, expressing Aq MHC class II molecules, and B10.DR4.Ncf1*/*, expressing human rheumatoid arthritis-associated MHC II DR4 molecules (DRA*0101/DRB*0401).
B10.Q and B10.DR4.Ncf1*/* mice were immunized with CII emulsified in adjuvant and development of CIA was assessed. T cells from draining lymph nodes were restimulated in vitro with CII peptides and interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) levels in culture supernatants were evaluated by ELISA. CII-specific antibody levels in serum samples were measured by ELISA.
At four different CIA time points we analyzed T cell specificity to the immunodominant CII epitope 259-273 (CII259-273) and several posttranslationally modified forms of CII259-273 as well as antibody responses to three B cell immunodominant epitopes on CII (C1, U1, J1). Our data show that CII-specific T and B cell responses increase dramatically after disease onset in both strains and are sustained during the disease course. Concerning anti-CII antibody fine specificity, during all investigated stages of CIA the B10.Q mice responded predominantly to the C1 epitope, whereas the B10.DR4.Ncf1*/* mice also recognized the U1 epitope. In the established disease phase, T cell reactivity toward the galactosylated CII259-273 peptide was similar between the DR4- and the Aq-expressing strains whereas the response to the non-modified CII peptide was dramatically enhanced in the DR4 mice compared with the B10.Q. In addition, we show that the difference in the transgenic DR4-restricted T cell specificity to CII259-273 is not dependent on the degree of glycosylation of the collagen used for immunization.
The present study provides important evaluation of CII-specific immune responses at different phases during CIA development as well as a comparative analysis between two CIA mouse models. We indicate significant differences in CII T cell and antibody specificities between the two strains and highlight a need for improved humanized B10.DR4 mouse model for rheumatoid arthritis.
PMCID: PMC3674594  PMID: 23116329
6.  Characterization of inhibitory T cells induced by an analog of type II collagen in an HLA-DR1 humanized mouse model of autoimmune arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(3):R107.
We used DR1 transgenic mice and covalently linked DR1 multimers to characterize analog-specific inhibitory T cells in collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). Because of the low numbers of antigen-specific T cells in wild-type mice, functional T-cell studies in autoimmune arthritis have been challenging. The use of T-cell receptor (TCR) transgenic mice has provided useful information, but such T cells may not represent the heterogeneous T-cell response that occurs in natural settings. Our focus was to develop tools to identify and characterize the population of immunoregulatory T cells induced in wild-type mice by an analog peptide of CII259-273, which contains amino acid substitutions at positions 263 (N) and 266 (D) (analog peptide A12).
DR1 multimers, developed by loading empty class II molecules with exogenous peptide, provide a method for visualizing antigen-specific T cells with flow cytometry. However, the low binding avidity of A12 for the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) made this strategy untenable. To overcome this problem, we generated DR1 multimers in which the analog peptide A12 was covalently linked, hoping that the low-avidity analog would occupy enough binding clefts to allow detection of the responsive T cells.
Staining with the tetramer revealed that A12-specific T cells were readily detectable at 10 days after immunization. These CD4(+) T cells are a highly selective subset of the TCR repertoire and have a limited clonality. Analysis of cytokine expression showed that cells detected by tetramer (A12) expressed primarily suppressive cytokines (interleukin-4 (IL-4) and IL-10) in response to collagen, compared with control cells. Although they did not express Fox-p3, they were extremely effective in preventing and suppressing inflammatory arthritis.
In summary, our studies showed that the use of covalently linked multimers allows characterization of analog-specific T cells that are otherwise difficult to detect. The suppressive character of the analog-specific T-cell response suggests that these cells attenuate autoimmunity and differ significantly in phenotype from the inflammatory T cells predominantly found in arthritic joints. Such reagents will become powerful tools to study T-cell responses in RA patients in upcoming clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC3446484  PMID: 22569209
7.  IFN-γ production in response to in vitro stimulation with collagen type II in rheumatoid arthritis is associated with HLA-DRB1*0401 and HLA-DQ8 
Arthritis Research  1999;2(1):75-84.
IFN-γ was measured in supernatants after in vitro stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells with collagen type II (CII), purified protein derivative or influenza virus. IFN-γ production in response to CII was similar in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients and healthy control individuals. The IFN-γ response to purified protein derivative and influenza virus was lower in RA patients, reflecting a general T-cell hyporesponsiveness in RA. After recalculating the response to CII taking this hyporesponsiveness into account the CII response was higher in RA patients, and was associated with human leucocyte antigen (HLA)-DRB1*0401 and HLA-DQA1*0301-DQB1*0302 (HLA-DQ8). Rheumatoid arthritis patients with elevated serum levels of immunoglobulin (Ig)G anti-CII antibodies had lower CII-induced IFN-γ production than patients with low anti-CII levels. The relative increase in CII-reactivity in RA patients as compared with healthy control individuals, and the association of a higher response with RA-associated HLA haplotypes, suggest the existence of a potentially pathogenic cellular reactivity against CII in RA.
Despite much work over past decades, whether antigen-specific immune reactions occur in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and to what extent such reactions are directed towards joint-specific autoantigens is still questionable. One strong indicator for antigenic involvement in RA is the fact that certain major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II genotypes [human leucocyte antigen (HLA)-DR4 and HLA-DR1] predispose for the development of the disease [1]. In the present report, collagen type II (CII) was studied as a putative autoantigen on the basis of both clinical and experimental data that show an increased frequency of antibodies to CII in RA patients [2,3,4] and that show that CII can induce experimental arthritis [5].
It is evident from the literature that RA peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) respond poorly to antigenic stimulation [6,7,8], and in particular evidence for a partial tolerization to CII has been presented [9]. The strategy of the present work has accordingly been to reinvestigate T-cell reactivity to CII in RA patients, to relate it to the response to commonly used recall antigens and to analyze IFN-γ responses as an alternative to proliferative responses.
To study cellular immune reactivity to CII in patients with RA and in healthy control individuals and to correlate this reactivity to HLA class II genotypes and to the presence of antibodies to CII in serum.
Forty-five patients who met the 1987 American College of Rheumatology classification criteria for RA [10] and 25 healthy control individuals of similar age and sex were included. Twenty-six of these patients who had low levels of anti-CII in serum were randomly chosen, whereas 19 patients with high anti-CII levels were identified by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)-screening of 400 RA sera.
Heparinized blood was density gradient separated and PBMCs were cultured at 1 × 106/ml in RPMI-10% fetal calf serum with or without antigenic stimulation: native or denatured CII (100 μ g/ml), killed influenza virus (Vaxigrip, Pasteur Mérieux, Lyon, France; diluted 1 : 1000) or purified protein derivative (PPD; 10 μ g/ml). CII was heat-denatured in 56°C for 30 min.
Cell supernatants were collected after 7days and IFN-γ contents were analyzed using ELISA. HLA-DR and HLA-DQ genotyping was performed utilizing a polymerase chain reaction-based technique with sequence-specific oligonucleotide probe hybridization. Nonparametric statistical analyses were utilized throughout the study.
PBMCs from both RA patients and healthy control individuals responded with inteferon-γ production to the same degree to stimulation with native and denatured CII (Fig. 1a), giving median stimulation indexes with native CII of 4.6 for RA patients and 5.4 for healthy control individuals, and with denatured CII of 2.9 for RA patients and 2.6 for healthy control individuals. RA patients with elevated levels of anti-CII had a weaker IFN-γ response to both native and denatured CII than did healthy control individuals (P = 0.02 and 0.04, respectively).
Stimulation with the standard recall antigens PPD and killed influenza virus yielded a median stimulation index with PPD of 10.0 for RA patients and 51.3 for healthy control individuals and with influenza of 12.3 for RA patients and 25.7 for healthy, control individuals. The RA patients displayed markedly lower responsiveness to both PPD and killed influenza virus than did healthy control individuals (Fig. 1b). IFN-γ responses to all antigens were abrogated when coincubating with antibodies blocking MHC class II.
The low response to PPD and killed influenza virus in RA patients relative to that of healthy control individuals reflects a general downregulation of antigen-induced responsiveness of T cells from RA patients [6,7,8]. That no difference between the RA group and the control group was recorded in CII-induced IFN-γ production therefore indicates that there may be an underlying increased responsiveness to CII in RA patients, which is obscured by the general downregulation of T-cell responsiveness in these patients. In order to address this possibility, we calculated the fraction between individual values for the CII-induced IFN-γ production and the PPD-induced and killed influenza virus-induced IFN-γ production, and compared these fractions. A highly significant difference between the RA and healthy control groups was apparent after stimulation with both native CII and denatured CII when expressing the response as a fraction of that with PPD (Fig. 2a). Similar data were obtained using killed influenza virus-stimulated IFN-γ values as the denominator (Fig. 2b).
When comparing the compensated IFN-γ response to denatured CII stimulation between RA patients with different HLA genotypes, highly significant differences were evident, with HLA-DRB1*0401 patients having greater CII responsiveness than patients who lacked this genotype (Fig. 3a). HLA-DQ8 positive patients also displayed a high responsiveness to CII as compared with HLA-DQ8 negative RA patients (Fig. 3b). These associations between the relative T-cell reactivity to denatured CII and HLA class II genotypes were not seen in healthy control individuals. Similar results were achieved using influenza as denominator (P = 0.02 for HLA-DRB1*0401 and P = 0.01 for HLA-DQ8).
No reports have previously systematically taken the general T-cell hyporesponsiveness in RA into account when investigating specific T-cell responses in this disease. In order to address this issue we used the T-cell responses to PPD and killed influenza virus as reference antigens. This was made on the assumption that exposure to these antigens is similar in age-matched and sex-matched groups of RA patients and healthy control individuals. The concept of a general hyporesponsiveness in RA T cells has been documented in several previous reports, in which both nominal antigens [6,7,8] and mitogens [11,12,13] have been used. The fact that a similar functional downregulation in RA PBMCs was obtained with both PPD and killed influenza virus as reference antigens strengthens the validity of our approach.
We identified an association between the IFN-γ response to CII and HLA-DRB1*0401 and HLA-DQ8 in the RA patient group, which is of obvious interest because both these MHC class II alleles have been associated with high responsiveness to CII in transgenic mice that express these human MHC class II molecules [14,15]. There was no association between high anti-CII levels and shared epitope (HLA-DRB1*0401 or HLA-DRB1*0404).
CII, a major autoantigen candidate in RA, can elicit an IFN-γ response in vitro that is associated with HLA-DRB1*0401 and HLA-DQ8 in RA patients. This study, with a partly new methodological approach to a classical problem in RA, has provided some additional support to the notion that CII may be a target autoantigen of importance for a substantial group of RA patients. Continued efforts to identify mechanisms behind the general hyporesponsiveness to antigens in RA, as well as the mechanisms behind the potential partial anergy to CII, may provide us with better opportunities to study the specificity and pathophysiological relevance of anti-CII reactivity in RA.
PMCID: PMC17806  PMID: 11219392
collagen type II; human leucocyte antigen-DR; IFN-γ; rheumatoid arthritis; T cell
8.  Characterization of T cell phenotype and function in a double transgenic (collagen-specific TCR/HLA-DR1) humanized model of arthritis 
T cells orchestrate joint inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), yet they are difficult to study due to the small numbers of antigen-specific cells. The goal of this study was to characterize a new humanized model of autoimmune arthritis and to describe the phenotypic and functional changes that occur in autoimmune T cells following the induction of pathological events.
We developed a double transgenic mouse containing both the HLA-DR1 transgene and an HLA-DR1-restricted collagen-specific TCR in order to obtain large numbers of antigen-specific T cells that can be used for immunologic studies.
In vitro, CII-specific T cells from this mouse proliferated vigorously in response to the CII immunodominant peptide A2 and the cells altered their phenotype to become predominately CD62Llow and CD44high “activated” T cells. The response was accompanied by the production of Th1, Th2, and Th17-type cytokines. Following immunization with bovine CII/CFA, these mice develop an accelerated arthritis compared to single transgenic HLA-DR1 mice. On the other hand, when the mice were treated orally with the analog peptide A12, (a suppressive analog of collagen we have previously described), arthritis was significantly suppressed, despite the fact that >90% of the CD4+ T cells express the TCR Tg. In GALT tissues taken from the A12-treated mice, IL-2, IFN-γ, and IL-17 production to the autoimmune collagen determinant dropped while high levels of IL-10 and IL-4 were produced.
We have developed a humanized model of autoimmune arthritis that will be useful for the study of T cell directed therapies as well as T cell mediated mechanisms of autoimmune diseases.
PMCID: PMC3978884  PMID: 24405551
9.  MHC Class II Derived Recombinant T Cell Receptor Ligands Protect DBA/1LacJ Mice from Collagen-Induced Arthritis1 
We previously demonstrated the therapeutic effects of MHC class II derived recombinant T cell receptor ligands (RTL), single-chain two domain complexes of the α1 and β1 domains of MHC class II molecules genetically linked with an immunodominant peptide, in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. In the current study, we produced a monomeric murine I-Aq-derived RTL construct covalently linked with bovine collagen type II peptide (bCII257–270) suitable for use in DBA/1LacJ mice that develop collagen-induced arthritis (CIA), an animal model of human rheumatoid arthritis, after immunization with bCII protein in CFA. In this study, we demonstrate that the I-Aq-derived RTLs reduced the incidence of the disease, suppressed the clinical and histological signs of CIA and induced long-term modulation of T cells specific for arthritogenic Ags. Our results showed that the I-Aq/bCII257–270 molecule could systemically reduce proinflammatory IL-17 and IFN-γ production and significantly increase anti-inflammatory IL-10, IL-13, and FoxP3 gene expression in splenocytes. Moreover, I-Aq/bCII257–270 molecule could also selectively inhibit IL-1β, IL-6, and IL-23 expression in local joint tissue. This is the first report demonstrating effective prevention of joint inflammation and clinical signs of CIA with an I-Aq-derived RTL, thus supporting the possible clinical use of this approach for treating rheumatoid arthritis in humans.
PMCID: PMC3457790  PMID: 18178865
10.  An HLA-DR1 Transgene Confers Susceptibility to Collagen-induced Arthritis Elicited with Human Type II Collagen 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  1997;185(6):1113-1122.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that is strongly associated with the expression of several HLA-DR haplotypes, including DR1 (DRB1*0101). Although the antigen that initiates RA remains elusive, it has been shown that many patients have autoimmunity directed to type II collagen (CII). To test the hypothesis that HLA-DR1 is capable of mediating an immune response to CII, we have generated transgenic mice expressing chimeric (human/ mouse) HLA-DR1. When the DR1 transgenic mice were immunized with human CII (hCII), they developed a severe autoimmune arthritis, evidenced by severe swelling and erythema of the limbs and marked inflammation and erosion of articular joints. The development of the autoimmune arthritis was accompanied by strong DR1-restricted T and B cell responses to hCII. The T cell response was focused on a dominant determinant contained within CII(259–273) from which an eight amino acid core was defined. The B cell response was characterized by high titers of antibody specific for hCII, and a high degree of cross-reactivity with murine type II collagen. These data demonstrate that HLA-DR1 is capable of presenting peptides derived from hCII, and suggest that this DR1 transgenic model will be useful in the development of DR1-specific therapies for RA.
PMCID: PMC2196244  PMID: 9091584
11.  Deletion of Fcγ Receptor IIB Renders H-2b Mice Susceptible to Collagen-induced Arthritis  
Autoimmune diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis, result from a dysregulation of the immune response culminating in hyperactivation of effector cells leading to immune-mediated injury. To maintain an appropriate immune response and prevent the emergence of autoimmune disease, activation signals must be regulated by inhibitory pathways. Biochemical and genetic studies indicate that the type IIB low-affinity receptor for immunoglobulin (Ig)G (FcγRIIB) inhibits cellular activation triggered through antibody or immune complexes and may be an important component in preventing the emergence of autoimmunity. To investigate the role of FcγRIIB in the development of type II collagen (CII)-induced arthritis (CIA), a model for rheumatoid arthritis in humans, we have examined its contribution in determining the susceptibility to CIA in the nonpermissive H-2b haplotype. H-2b mice immunized with bovine CII do not develop appreciable disease. In contrast, immunization of the FcγRIIB-deficient, H-2b mice with bovine CII induced CIA at an incidence of 42.2%. The maximal arthritis index of the FcγRIIB-deficient mice developing CIA (6.9 ± 3.6) was comparable to that of DBA/1 mice (8.6 ± 1.9), an H-2q strain susceptible for CIA induction. IgG1, IgG2a, and IgG2b antibody responses against CII were elevated in the FcγRIIB-deficient animals, especially in those mice showing arthritis, but less pronounced than DBA/1 mice. Histological examinations of the arthritic paws from FcγRIIB-deficient mice revealed that cartilage was destroyed and bone was focally eroded in association with marked lymphocyte and monocyte/macrophage infiltration, very similar to the pathologic findings observed in DBA/1 mice. These results indicate that a nonpermissive H-2b haplotype can be rendered permissive to CIA induction through deletion of FcγRIIB, suggesting that FcγRIIB plays a critical role in suppressing the induction of CIA.
PMCID: PMC1887699  PMID: 9874575
collagen-induced arthritis; autoimmunity; Fc receptor; gene targeting; macrophage
12.  Tumour necrosis factor receptor gene therapy affects cellular immune responses in collagen induced arthritis in mice 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2005;64(11):1550-1556.
Background: Collagen induced arthritis (CIA) is an animal model of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) amenable to immunotherapy directed against tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα).
Objective: To evaluate whether local TNF receptor (TNF-R) gene therapy in DBA/1 mice exerts an influence beyond anti-inflammatory effects. Two measures of CIA pathogenesis were investigated—namely, immunity to collagen II (CII) 245–270 peptide (the major immunodominant epitope within bovine CII) and the preferential activation of T cell Vß8.2 variable region receptors in arthritic DBA/1 mice.
Methods: DBA/1 mice received single periarticular injections of media or retroviral vectors containing LacZ or human TNF-R into affected arthritic paws at disease onset. Disease severity was monitored, immune responses towards the immunodominant bovine CII 245–270 and subdominant CII 334–360 peptide epitopes were assessed by ELISA, and T cell Vß usage was analysed by real time polymerase chain reaction for the LacZ transduced, TNF-R, and viral-free media treated control animals. The therapeutic influence of TNF-R gene transduction was compared with other groups at different times after treatment.
Results: Reduced disease severity was seen 15–35 days after treatment, with a concomitant increase in immunity towards the subdominant CII 334–360 peptide epitope rather than the immunodominant CII 245–270 peptide in TNF-R treated animals. Early in the disease, TNF-R treated animals demonstrated a reduction of bias towards the otherwise predominant Vß8.2 T cell subset.
Conclusions: TNF-R gene therapy influences cellular immunity in CIA, leading to overall disease amelioration, thus suggesting that TNF inhibition may have therapeutic potential beyond the control of inflammation in RA.
PMCID: PMC1755256  PMID: 15860512
13.  Regulatory T Cells Specific for the Same Framework 3 Region of the Vβ8.2 Chain Are Involved in the Control of Collagen II–induced Arthritis and Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  1997;185(10):1725-1733.
Recent evidence indicates that chronic autoimmune disease can result from breakdown of regulation and subsequent activation of self-reactive T cells. In many murine autoimmune disease systems and in the Lewis rat, antigen-specific T cells utilizing the T cell receptor (TCR) Vβ8.2 gene segment play a major role. In the myelin basic protein–induced experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) model in H-2u mice, we had shown that T cells recognizing a peptide determinant within the framework 3 region of the Vβ8.2 chain have a critical role in influencing the course of the disease. Here, we report experiments in another disease system, collagen II (CII)–induced arthritis (CIA) in DBA/1LacJ (H-2q) mice, indicating a remarkably parallel control circuit to that found for EAE. A critical role is played by CII-specific Vβ8.2bearing T cells in the CIA system, which we have confirmed. Animals treated with the superantigen SEB before CII administration are significantly protected from CIA. Next, we tested the ability of peptides encompassing the entire Vβ8.2 chain to induce proliferative responses. Only TCR peptide B5 (amino acids 76–101), a regulatory peptide in EAE, induced proliferation. B5 was then used to vaccinate DBA/1LacJ mice and was shown to reduce greatly the severity and incidence of CIA as measured by joint inflammation or histology. Furthermore, similar protection was found when B5 was administered after CII immunization. It was shown that there is physiological induction of a proliferative response to B5 during CIA and that the determinant within B5 is produced from a single chain TCR construct containing the entire Vβ8.2 chain. Finally, the regulation of CIA is discussed in the context of other experimental autoimmune diseases, especially EAE, with emphasis on what appear to be strikingly common mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC2196316  PMID: 9151697
14.  Exacerbation of collagen induced arthritis by Fcγ receptor targeted collagen peptide due to enhanced inflammatory chemokine and cytokine production 
Antibodies specific for bovine type II collagen (CII) and Fcγ receptors play a major role in collagen-induced arthritis (CIA), a mouse model of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Our aim was to clarify the mechanism of immune complex-mediated inflammation and modulation of the disease. CII pre-immunized DBA/1 mice were intravenously boosted with extravidin coupled biotinylated monomeric CII-peptide epitope (ARGLTGRPGDA) and its complexes with biotinylated FcγRII/III specific single chain Fv (scFv) fragment. Disease scores were monitored, antibody titers and cytokines were determined by ELISA, and binding of complexes was detected by flow cytometry and immune histochemistry. Cytokine and chemokine secretion was monitored by protein profiler microarray. When intravenously administered into collagen-primed DBA/1 mice, both CII-peptide and its complex with 2.4G2 scFv significantly accelerated CIA and increased the severity of the disease, whereas the monomeric peptide and monomeric 2.4G2 scFv had no effect. FcγRII/III targeted CII-peptide complexes bound to marginal zone macrophages and dendritic cells, and significantly elevated the synthesis of peptide-specific IgG2a. Furthermore, CII-peptide containing complexes augmented the in vivo secretion of cytokines, including IL-10, IL-12, IL-17, IL-23, and chemokines (CXCL13, MIP-1, MIP-2). These data indicate that complexes formed by the CII-peptide epitope aggravate CIA by inducing the secretion of chemokines and the IL-12/23 family of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Taken together, these results suggest that the in vivo emerging immune complexes formed with autoantigen(s) may trigger the IL-12/23 dependent pathways, escalating the inflammation in RA. Thus blockade of these cytokines may be beneficial to downregulate immune complex-induced inflammation in autoimmune arthritis.
PMCID: PMC3333823  PMID: 22532778
collagen-induced arthritis; Fc gamma receptor; immune complex; inflammation; targeting
15.  Identification of an immunosuppressive epitope of type II collagen that confers protection against collagen-induced arthritis 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  1989;170(6):1999-2010.
We have previously reported that collagen-induced arthritis can be suppressed by intravenous injection of native type II (CII) but not type I collagen. We have now identified denatured fragments of CII capable of suppressing collagen-induced arthritis and inducing tolerance. Purified CII was cleaved with cyanogen bromide (CB), and the major resulting peptides were isolated. Female DBA/1 mice were administered OVA, native CII, or one of the CB peptides, intravenously, before immunization with native CII, 6 wk after immunization, mice tolerized with CII and CB11 had a markedly lower incidence of arthritis compared with controls. There was a correlation between the overall antibody response and the incidence of arthritis. In addition, animals tolerized with either CII or CB11 had a decreased antibody response not only to CII, but also to each of the other CB peptides tested. To identify the epitope involved in suppression of arthritis, five synthetic peptides, 21-26 amino acids in length, corresponding to selected regions of CB11, were generated. Each of the peptides was injected intravenously into mice before immunization. Only one of these, CB11 122-147, was capable of suppressing arthritis. In addition, mice given the synthetic peptide CB11 122-147 neonatally were suppressed for arthritis and antibody responsiveness when immunized with CII at 8 wk of age. Thus, we have identified CB11 122-147 as an epitope of CII important in induction of tolerance and suppression of disease. Further experiments narrowing down the pivotal amino acids for the immunogenicity of this epitope and the role this epitope plays in induction and regulation of disease will enhance our understanding of how the immune response to collagen affects autoimmune arthritis.
PMCID: PMC2189520  PMID: 2479704
16.  Collagen type II (CII)-specific antibodies induce arthritis in the absence of T or B cells but the arthritis progression is enhanced by CII-reactive T cells 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2004;6(6):R544-R550.
Antibodies against type II collagen (anti-CII) are arthritogenic and have a crucial role in the initiation of collagen-induced arthritis. Here, we have determined the dependence of T and B cells in collagen-antibody-induced arthritis (CAIA) during different phases of arthritis. Mice deficient for B and/or T cells were susceptible to the CAIA, showing that the antibodies induce arthritis even in the absence of an adaptive immune system. To determine whether CII-reactive T cells could have a role in enhancing arthritis development at the effector level of arthritis pathogenesis, we established a T cell line reactive with CII. This T cell line was oligoclonal and responded to different post-translational forms of the major CII epitope at position 260–270 bound to the Aq class II molecule. Importantly, it cross-reacted with the mouse peptide although it is bound with lower affinity to the Aq molecule than the corresponding rat peptide. The T cell line could not induce clinical arthritis per se in Aq-expressing mice even if these mice expressed the major heterologous CII epitope in cartilage, as in the transgenic MMC (mutated mouse collagen) mouse. However, a combined treatment with anti-CII monoclonal antibodies and CII-reactive T cells enhanced the progression of severe arthritis.
PMCID: PMC1064861  PMID: 15535832
arthritis; B cells; collagen type II; monoclonal antibodies; T cells
17.  Modulation of collagen-induced arthritis by adenovirus-mediated intra-articular expression of modified collagen type II 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2010;12(4):R136.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic disease manifested by chronic inflammation in multiple articular joints, including the knees and small joints of the hands and feet. We have developed a unique modification to a clinically accepted method for delivering therapies directly to the synovium. Our therapy is based on our previous discovery of an analog peptide (A9) with amino acid substitutions made at positions 260 (I to A), 261 (A to B), and 263 (F to N) that could profoundly suppress immunity to type II collagen (CII) and arthritis in the collagen-induced arthritis model (CIA).
We engineered an adenoviral vector to contain the CB11 portion of recombinant type II collagen and used PCR to introduce point mutations at three sites within (CII124-402, 260A, 261B, 263D), (rCB11-A9) so that the resulting molecule contained the A9 sequence at the exact site of the wild-type sequence.
We used this construct to target intra-articular tissues of mice and utilized the collagen-induced arthritis model to show that this treatment strategy provided a sustained, local therapy for individual arthritic joints, effective whether given to prevent arthritis or as a treatment. We also developed a novel system for in vivo bioimaging, using the firefly luciferase reporter gene to allow serial bioluminescence imaging to show that luciferase can be detected as late as 18 days post injection into the joint.
Our therapy is unique in that we target synovial cells to ultimately shut down T cell-mediated inflammation. Its effectiveness is based on its ability to transform potential inflammatory T cells and/or bystander T cells into therapeutic (regulatory-like) T cells which secrete interleukin (IL)-4. We believe this approach has potential to effectively suppress RA with minimal side effects.
PMCID: PMC2945026  PMID: 20615221
18.  Induction of IL-10-producing CD4+CD25+ T cells in animal model of collagen-induced arthritis by oral administration of type II collagen 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2004;6(3):R213-R219.
Induction of oral tolerance has long been considered a promising approach to the treatment of chronic autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Oral administration of type II collagen (CII) has been proven to improve signs and symptoms in RA patients without troublesome toxicity. To investigate the mechanism of immune suppression mediated by orally administered antigen, we examined changes in serum IgG subtypes and T-cell proliferative responses to CII, and generation of IL-10-producing CD4+CD25+ T-cell subsets in an animal model of collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). We found that joint inflammation in CIA mice peaked at 5 weeks after primary immunization with CII, which was significantly less in mice tolerized by repeated oral feeding of CII before CIA induction. Mice that had been fed with CII also exhibited increased serum IgG1 and decreased serum IgG2a as compared with nontolerized CIA animals. The T-cell proliferative response to CII was suppressed in lymph nodes of tolerized mice also. Production of IL-10 and of transforming growth factor-β from mononuclear lymphocytes was increased in the tolerized animals, and CD4+ T cells isolated from tolerized mice did not respond with induction of IFN-γ when stimulated in vitro with CII. We also observed greater induction of IL-10-producing CD4+CD25+ subsets among CII-stimulated splenic T cells from tolerized mice. These data suggest that when these IL-10-producing CD4+CD25+ T cells encounter CII antigen in affected joints they become activated to exert an anti-inflammatory effect.
PMCID: PMC416445  PMID: 15142267
collagen-induced arthritis; IL-10; oral tolerance; type II collagen
19.  T cell recognition of carbohydrates on type II collagen 
A critical event in an immune response is the T cell recognition of peptides bound to major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules on the surface of an antigen presenting cell (APC). Although the majority of eukaryotic proteins are glycosylated, it has not yet been shown that T cell recognition of such proteins involves recognition of the bound carbohydrates. Type II collagen (CII), the major protein constituent of joint cartilage, is posttranslationally modified by hydroxylation and glycosylation of lysines. In this report we show that posttranslational modifications of the immunodominant peptide CII(256-270) generate a structural determinant that is distinct from the determinant represented by the corresponding synthetic peptide. Elimination of carbohydrates, present on CII, by two different biochemical methods revealed that the carbohydrates, O-linked to the hydroxylysines within the CII(256-270) determinant, were crucial for the reactivity towards the posttranslationally modified peptide. Furthermore, a T cell hybridoma specific for the glycosylated determinant was stimulated by tryptic CII-peptides presented by fixed APCs, thus showing that the carbohydrates are involved in the trimolecular complex T cell receptor/peptide/MHC. Finally, the importance of the bound carbohydrates for the arthritogenicity of CII was investigated by comparing the development of arthritis after immunization with carbohydrate-depleted and glycosylated CII, respectively. Incidence, time of onset, and severity of the disease were significantly affected by the elimination of carbohydrates, whereas no significant difference in anti-CII antibody titers was seen.
PMCID: PMC2191590  PMID: 8046350
20.  Type II collagen antibody response is enriched in the synovial fluid of rheumatoid joints and directed to the same major epitopes as in collagen induced arthritis in primates and mice 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2014;16(4):R143.
Antibodies towards type II collagen (CII) are detected in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and in non-human primates and rodents with collagen induced arthritis (CIA). We have previously shown that antibodies specific for several CII-epitopes are pathogenic using monoclonal antibodies from arthritic mice, although the role of different anti-CII epitopes has not been investigated in detail in other species. We therefore performed an inter-species comparative study of the autoantibody response to CII in patients with RA versus monkeys and mice with CIA.
Analysis of the full epitope repertoire along the disease course of CIA was performed using a library of CII triple-helical peptides. The antibody responses to the major CII epitopes were analyzed in sera and synovial fluid from RA patients, and in sera from rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta), common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) and mice.
Many CII epitopes including the major C1, U1, and J1 were associated with established CIA and arginine residues played an important role in the anti-CII antibody interactions. The major epitopes were also recognized in RA patients, both in sera and even more pronounced in synovial fluid: 77% of the patients had antibodies to the U1 epitope. The anti-CII immune response was not restricted to the anti-citrulline protein antibodies (ACPA) positive RA group.
CII conformational dependent antibody responses are common in RA and are likely to originate from rheumatoid joints but did not show a correlation with ACPA response. Importantly, the fine specificity of the anti-CII response is similar with CIA in monkeys and rodents where the recognized epitopes are conserved and have a major pathogenic role. Thus, anti-CII antibodies may both contribute to, as well as be the consequence of, local joint inflammation.
PMCID: PMC4226996  PMID: 25005029
21.  IFNγ deficient C57BL/6 (H-2b) mice develop collagen induced arthritis with predominant usage of T cell receptor Vß6 and Vß8 in arthritic joints 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2003;62(10):983-990.
Background: Transgenic deficiency in interferon γ (IFNγ) or IFNγ receptor makes resistant strains of mice bearing H-2b or H-2d susceptible to collagen induced arthritis (CIA).
Objective: To determine whether the escape from regulation of disease susceptibility at the major histocompatibility complex level involves a new use of autoimmune T cells expressing T cell receptor (TCR) Vß that vary from the cell populations previously identified within arthritic joints.
Methods: Arthritis was induced by a standard protocol with type II bovine collagen (CII) in complete Freund's adjuvant. Clinical features, histopathology, immunological responses, and TCR profile in arthritic joints in IFNγ knockout C57BL/6 (B6.IFNγ KO) mice (H-2b) were compared directly with those in DBA/1 mice (H-2q).
Results: 60–80% of B6.IFNγ KO mice developed a progressive arthritis with a similar clinical course to classical CIA in DBA/1 mice. The affected joints in B6.IFNγ KO mice had an erosive form of arthritis with similar features to joint disease in DBA/1 mice. B6.IFNγ KO mice produced significantly higher levels of IgG2b and IgG1 autoantibodies to murine CII and showed increased proliferative response to CII compared with B6 mice. Comparable levels of interleukin 1ß and tumour necrosis factor α expression were detected in arthritic joints from ß6.IFNγ KO and DBA/1 mice. B6.IFNγKO mice used predominantly TCR Vß6 and Vß8 in arthritic joints. This TCR Vß profile is similar to that found in DBA/1 mice with CIA.
Conclusions: C57BL/6 mice deficient in IFNγ production can develop arthritis that resembles classical CIA. These data suggest that IFNγ is a key factor mediating susceptibility to CIA.
PMCID: PMC1754310  PMID: 12972478
22.  Inhibition of macropinocytosis blocks antigen presentation of type II collagen in vitro and in vivo in HLA-DR1 transgenic mice 
Professional antigen-presenting cells, such as dendritic cells, macrophages and B cells have been implicated in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis, constituting a possible target for antigen-specific immunotherapy. We addressed the possibility of blocking antigen presentation of the type II collagen (CII)-derived immunodominant arthritogenic epitope CII259–273 to specific CD4 T cells by inhibition of antigen uptake in HLA-DR1-transgenic mice in vitro and in vivo. Electron microscopy, confocal microscopy, subcellular fractionation and antigen presentation assays were used to establish the mechanisms of uptake, intracellular localization and antigen presentation of CII by dendritic cells and macrophages. We show that CII accumulated in membrane fractions of intermediate density corresponding to late endosomes. Treatment of dendritic cells and macrophages with cytochalasin D or amiloride prevented the intracellular appearance of CII and blocked antigen presentation of CII259–273 to HLA-DR1-restricted T cell hybridomas. The data suggest that CII was taken up by dendritic cells and macrophages predominantly via macropinocytosis. Administration of amiloride in vivo prevented activation of CII-specific polyclonal T cells in the draining popliteal lymph nodes. This study suggests that selective targeting of CII internalization in professional antigen-presenting cells prevents activation of autoimmune T cells, constituting a novel therapeutic strategy for the immunotherapy of rheumatoid arthritis.
PMCID: PMC1779380  PMID: 16704744
23.  Insights into spatial configuration of a galactosylated epitope required to trigger arthritogenic T-cell receptors specific for the sugar moiety 
The immunodominant epitope of bovine type II collagen (CII256–270) in Aq mice carries a hydroxylysine-264 linked galactose (Gal-Hyl264), the recognition of which is central to the development of collagen-induced arthritis. This study explores the molecular interactions involved in the engagement of T-cell receptors (TCRs) with such epitopes. Responses of three anti-CII T-cell hybridomas and clone A9.2 (all sharing close TCR sequences) to a panel of CII256–270 analogues incorporating Gal-Hyl264 with a modified side chain were determined. Recognition of naturally occurring CII256–270 peptides by either group of T cells depended strictly upon the presence of the carbohydrate and, more precisely, its intact HO-4 group. Modifications of primary amino group on the hydroxylysine side chain eliminated T-cell reactivity, notwithstanding the presence of the galactosyl moiety. Moderate stereochemical changes, such as altered sugar orientation and methylation at the galactose anchor position, were still permissive. Conversely, robust transformations affecting the relative positions of the key elements were detrimental to TCR recognition. To conclude, these data provide strong new experimental evidence that integrity of both galactose HO-4 and hydroxylysine side chain primary amino groups are mandatory for activation of anti-Gal-Hyl264 TCRs. They also indicate that there is a certain degree of TCR plasticity in peptide-TCR interactions.
PMCID: PMC2212564  PMID: 17848196
24.  Helminth Antigens Enable CpG-Activated Dendritic Cells to Inhibit the Symptoms of Collagen-induced Arthritis through Foxp3+ Regulatory T Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40356.
Dendritic cells (DC) have the potential to control the outcome of autoimmunity by modulating the immune response. In this study, we tested the ability of Fasciola hepatica total extract (TE) to induce tolerogenic properties in CpG-ODN (CpG) maturated DC, to then evaluate the therapeutic potential of these cells to diminish the inflammatory response in collagen induced arthritis (CIA). DBA/1J mice were injected with TE plus CpG treated DC (T/C-DC) pulsed with bovine collagen II (CII) between two immunizations with CII and clinical scores CIA were determined. The levels of CII-specific IgG2 and IgG1 in sera, the histological analyses in the joints, the cytokine profile in the draining lymph node (DLN) cells and in the joints, and the number, and functionality of CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ T cells (Treg) were evaluated. Vaccination of mice with CII pulsed T/C-DC diminished the severity and incidence of CIA symptoms and the production of the inflammatory cytokine, while induced the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines. The therapeutic effect was mediated by Treg cells, since the adoptive transfer of CD4+CD25+ T cells, inhibited the inflammatory symptoms in CIA. The in vitro blockage of TGF-β in cultures of DLN cells plus CII pulsed T/C-DC inhibited the expansion of Treg cells. Vaccination with CII pulsed T/C-DC seems to be a very efficient approach to diminish exacerbated immune response in CIA, by inducing the development of Treg cells, and it is therefore an interesting candidate for a cell-based therapy for rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
PMCID: PMC3405066  PMID: 22848374
25.  Porphyromonas gingivalis oral infection exacerbates the development and severity of collagen-induced arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2013;15(6):R186.
Clinical studies suggest a direct influence of periodontal disease (PD) on serum inflammatory markers and disease assessment of patients with established rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, the influence of PD on arthritis development remains unclear. This investigation was undertaken to determine the contribution of chronic PD to immune activation and development of joint inflammation using the collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) model.
DBA1/J mice orally infected with Porphyromonas gingivalis were administered with collagen II (CII) emulsified in complete Freund’s adjuvant (CFA) or incomplete Freund’s adjuvant (IFA) to induce arthritis. Arthritis development was assessed by visual scoring of paw swelling, caliper measurement of the paws, mRNA expression, paw micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) analysis, histology, and tartrate resistant acid phosphatase for osteoclast detection (TRAP)-positive immunohistochemistry. Serum and reactivated splenocytes were evaluated for cytokine expression.
Mice induced for PD and/or arthritis developed periodontal disease, shown by decreased alveolar bone and alteration of mRNA expression in gingival tissues and submandibular lymph nodes compared to vehicle. P. gingivalis oral infection increased paw swelling and osteoclast numbers in mice immunized with CFA/CII. Arthritis incidence and severity were increased by P. gingivalis in mice that received IFA/CII immunizations. Increased synovitis, bone erosions, and osteoclast numbers in the paws were observed following IFA/CII immunizations in mice infected with P gingivalis. Furthermore, cytokine analysis showed a trend toward increased serum Th17/Th1 ratios when P. gingivalis infection was present in mice receiving either CFA/CII or IFA/CII immunizations. Significant cytokine increases induced by P. gingivalis oral infection were mostly associated to Th17-related cytokines of reactivated splenic cells, including IL-1β, IL-6, and IL-22 in the CFA/CII group and IL-1β, tumor necrosis factor-α, transforming growth factor-β, IL-6 and IL-23 in the IFA/CII group.
Chronic P. gingivalis oral infection prior to arthritis induction increases the immune system activation favoring Th17 cell responses, and ultimately accelerating arthritis development. These results suggest that chronic oral infection may influence RA development mainly through activation of Th17-related pathways.
PMCID: PMC3979094  PMID: 24456966

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