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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.  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
3.  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
4.  Analog peptides of type II collagen can suppress arthritis in HLA-DR4 (DRB1*0401) transgenic mice 
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease associated with the recognition of self proteins secluded in diarthrodial joints. We have previously established that mice transgenic for the human DR genes associated with RA are susceptible to collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) and we have identified a determinant of type II collagen (CII263–270) that triggers T-cell immune responses in these mice. We have also determined that an analog of CII263–270 would suppress disease in DR1 transgenic mice. Because the immunodominant determinant is the same for both DR1 transgenic and DR4 transgenic mice, we attempted to determine whether the analog peptide that was suppressive in DR1 transgenic mice would also be effective in suppressing CIA in DR4 transgenic mice. We treated DR4 transgenic mice with two analog peptides of CII that contained substitutions in the core of the immunodominant determinant: CII256–276 (F263N, E266D) and CII256–270 (F263N, E266A). Mice were observed for CIA, and T-cell proliferative responses were determined. Either peptide administered at the time of immunization with CII significantly downregulated arthritis. Binding studies demonstrated that replacement of the phenylalanine residue in position 263 of the CII peptide with asparagine significantly decreased the affinity of the peptide for the DR4 molecule. In contrast, replacement of the glutamic acid residue in position 266 with aspartic acid or with alanine had differing results. Aspartic acid reduced the affinity (35-fold) whereas alanine did not. Both peptides were capable of suppressing CIA. With the use of either peptide, CII256–276 (F263N, E266D) or CII256–270 (F263N, E266A), the modulation of CIA was associated with an increase in T-cell secretion of IL-4 together with a decrease in IFN-γ. We have identified two analog peptides that are potent suppressors of CIA in DR4 transgenic mice. These experiments represent the first description of an analog peptide of CII recognized by T cells in the context of HLA-DR4 that can suppress autoimmune arthritis.
PMCID: PMC1779432  PMID: 16982003
5.  T cell responses to a non‐glycosylated epitope predominate in type II collagen‐immunised HLA‐DRB1*0101 transgenic mice 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2006;66(5):599-604.
To study collagen‐induced arthritis in human leucocyte antigen (HLA)‐DR1 transgenic mice lacking endogenous major histocompatibility complex class II molecules (MHC‐II) and to determine T cell specificity against the arthritogenic CII259–273 epitope of type II collagen either unmodified or post‐translationally glycosylated at Lys264.
Arthritis was induced by immunisation with human type II collagen in complete Freund's adjuvant and measured by footpad swelling, clinical score and histology. T cell responses were assessed by proliferation of spleen and lymph node cells and in antigen presentation assays, using T cell hybridomas specific for the glycosylated and non‐glycosylated CII259–273 epitope.
The incidence of arthritis was 50% in DR1‐transgenic mice lacking endogenous MHC‐II molecules. Recall T cell responses in draining lymph nodes and spleen were consistently greater against the non‐glycosylated epitope than to the glycosylated CII259–273. Most of the T cell hybridomas generated from CII‐immunised mice recognised the non‐glycosylated CII epitope and this form of the epitope was also presented with 100‐fold higher efficiency and 1 h faster kinetics by both macrophages and dendritic cells.
This study shows that T cell responses to the non‐glycosylated epitope of heterologous (human) CII are dominant in HLA‐DR1 transgenic mice lacking MHC‐II, which could contribute to the pathogenicity of autoimmune arthritis.
PMCID: PMC1954639  PMID: 17114189
6.  Arthrogenicity of type II collagen monoclonal antibodies associated with complement activation and antigen affinity 
The collagen antibody-induced arthritis (CAIA) model, which employs a cocktail of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to type II collagen (CII), has been widely used for studying the pathogenesis of autoimmune arthritis. In this model, not all mAbs to CII are capable of inducing arthritis because one of the initial events is the formation of collagen-antibody immune complexes on the cartilage surface or in the synovium, and subsequent activation of the complement by the complexes induces arthritis, suggesting that a combination of mAbs showing strong ability to bind mouse CII and activate the complement may effectively induce arthritis in mice. In the present study, we examined the relationship between the induction of arthritis by the combination of IgG2a (CII-6 and C2A-12), IgG2b (CII-3, C2B-14 and C2B-16) and IgM (CM-5) subclones of monoclonal antibodies (mAb) of anti-bovine or chicken CII and the ability of mAbs to activate complement and bind mouse CII.
DBA/1J mice were injected with several combinations of mAbs followed by lipopolysaccharide. Furthermore, the ability of mAbs to activate the complement and bind mouse CII was examined by ELISA.
First, DBA/1J mice were injected with the combined 4 mAbs (CII-3, CII-6, C2B-14, and CM-5) followed by lipopolysaccharide, resulting in moderate arthritis. Excluding one of the mAbs, i.e., using only CII-3, CII-6, and C2B-14, induced greater inflammation of the joints. Next, adding C2A-12 but not C2B-16 to these 3 mAbs produced more severe arthritis. A combination of five clones, consisting of all 5 mAbs, was less effective. Histologically, mice given the newly developed 4-clone cocktail had marked proliferation of synovial tissues, massive infiltration by inflammatory cells, and severe destruction of cartilage and bone. Furthermore, 4 of the 6 clones (CII-3, CII-6, C2B-14, and C2A-12) showed not only a strong cross-reaction with mouse CII but also marked activation of the complement in vitro.
The combination of 4 mAbs showing strong abilities to activate the complement and bind mouse CII effectively induced arthritis in DBA/1J mice. This in vitro system may be useful for the selection of mAbs associated with the development of arthritis.
PMCID: PMC3217917  PMID: 22054174
7.  Multifunctional T cell reactivity to native and glycosylated type-II collagen in rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(8):2482-2488.
Type II collagen (CII) is a cartilage-specific protein to which a loss of immune tolerance may trigger autoimmune reactions and cause arthritis. The major T cell epitope on CII, aa259-273, can be presented by several HLA-DRB1*04 alleles in its native or posttranslational-glycosylated form. Here, we aimed to functionally explore and compare CII-autoreactive T cells from blood and synovial fluid of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Peripheral blood were obtained from HLA-DRB1*04 RA and control subjects (n=10 each), then stimulated in vitro with several variants of the CII259-273 epitope: (a) unmodified, or glycosylated on (b) lysine-264, (c) lysine-270, or (d) both lysine-264 and 270. Upregulation of CD154 was used to identify responding T cells. These cells were further characterized by intracellular staining for IL-17, IFNγ and IL-2 by flow cytometry. For RA patients, synovial T cells were investigated in parallel.
Multifunctional T cell responses towards all examined variants of the CII259-273 peptide could be detected in RA patients and to a lesser extent also in healthy HLA-matched individuals (p<0.001). In RA, a comparison between blood and joint-derived T cell function revealed a significant increase of the proinflammatory cytokine IFNγ (p=0.027) in synovial T cells. Studies of longitudinal samples show that T cell responses were sustained over the course of disease, and even included epitope spreading.
The identification of inflammatory T cell responses to both glycosylated and non-glycosylated variants of the major CII epitope in RA patients suggests that CII autoreactivity may be more common than previously appreciated.
PMCID: PMC3387353  PMID: 22392632
8.  Mice expressing HLA-DQ6α8β transgenes develop polychondritis spontaneously 
Relapsing polychondritis (RP) is a human autoimmune disease of unknown etiology in which cartilaginous sites are destroyed by cyclic inflammatory episodes beginning, most commonly, during the fourth or fifth decade of life. We have previously described collagen-induced polychondritis that closely mirrors RP occurring in young (6–8 weeks old) HLA-DQ6αβ8αβ transgenic Aβ0 mice, following immunization with heterologous type II collagen (CII).
We present evidence here that transgenic strains expressing the DQ6α8β transgene develop spontaneous polychondritis (SP) at the mouse equivalent of human middle age (4.5–6 months and 40–50 years old, respectively) and display polyarthritis, auricular chondritis and nasal chondritis – three of the most common sites affected in RP. Auricular chondritis in SP, like RP but unlike CII-induced polychondritis, exhibited a relapsing/remitting phenotype, requiring several inflammatory cycles before the cartilage is destroyed. Elevated serum levels of total IgG corresponded with the onset of disease in SP, as in RP and CII-induced polychondritis. No CII-specific immune response was detected in SP, however – more closely mirroring RP, in which as few as 30% of RP patients have been reported to have CII-specific IgG. CII-induced polychondritis displays a strong CII-specific immune response. SP also demonstrated a strong female preponderance, as some workers have reported in RP but has not observed in CII-induced polychondritis. These characteristics of SP allow for the examination of the immunopathogenesis of polychondritis in the absence of an overwhelming CII-specific immune response and the strong adjuvant-induced immunostimulatory influence in CII-induced polychondritis.
This spontaneous model of polychondritis provides a new and unique tool to investigate both the initiatory events as well as the immunopathogenic mechanisms occurring at cartilaginous sites during the cyclic inflammatory assaults of polychondritis.
PMCID: PMC1779388  PMID: 16872515
9.  HLA-DQ8 transgenic mice are highly susceptible to collagen-induced arthritis: a novel model for human polyarthritis 
Genetic studies have indicated that susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) maps to the HLA-DR locus of the major histocompatibility complex. Strong linkage disequilibrium between certain HLA-DQ genes and HLA-DR genes associated with RA, however, suggests that HLA-DQ molecules may also play a role in RA susceptibility. To examine the role of HLA-DQ molecules in arthritis, we generated transgenic mice expressing the DQA1*0301 and DQB1*0302 genes from an RA predisposing haplotype (DQ8/DR4Dw4). The transgenes were introduced into mouse class II-deficient H-2Ab0 mice, and their susceptibility to experimental collagen-induced arthritis was evaluated. The HLA-DQ8+,H-2Ab0 mice displayed good expression of the DQ8 molecule, while no surface expression of endogenous murine class II molecules could be detected. The DQ8 molecule also induced the selection of CD4+ T cells expressing a normal repertoire of V beta T cell receptors. Immunization of HLA- DQ8+,H-2Ab0 mice with bovine type II collagen (CII) induced a strong antibody response that was cross-reactive to homologous mouse CII. Also, in vitro proliferative responses against bovine CII, which were blocked in the presence of an antibody specific for HLA-DQ and mouse CD4, were detected. Finally, a severe polyarthritis developed in a majority of HLA-DQ8+,H-2Ab0 mice, which was indistinguishable from the disease observed in arthritis susceptible B10.T(6R) (H-2Aq) controls. In contrast, HLA-DQ8-,H-2Ab0 fullsibs did not generate CII antibody and were completely resistant to arthritis. Therefore, these results strongly suggest that HLA-DQ8 molecules contribute to genetic susceptibility to arthritis and also establish a novel animal model for the study of human arthritis.
PMCID: PMC2192409  PMID: 8551230
10.  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
11.  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
12.  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
13.  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
14.  Auricular chondritis in NOD.DQ8.Aβo (Ag7–/–) transgenic mice resembles human relapsing polychondritis 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2003;112(12):1843-1850.
Relapsing polychondritis is a multisystem autoimmune disease involving cartilage destruction but no known causative antigen. HLA-DQ8 has been associated with various autoimmune diseases in humans. To study the role of DQ8 in autoimmune diseases, we have generated transgenic mice expressing DQ8 (DQA1*0301, DQB1*0302) in a NOD background lacking endogenous class II molecules (Aβo). Upon immunization with type II collagen (CII), 85% of NOD.DQ8 mice develop severe experimental polychondritis, auricular chondritis, and polyarthritis, with clinical and histological similarities to relapsing polychondritis (RP) in humans. CII-immunized mice mount a T cell response and produce Ab’s to type IX collagen (CIX) and self-CII. Transgene-negative littermates do not develop any serological and clinical manifestations following immunization. B10.DQ8 transgenic mice develop polyarthritis and Ab’s to CII only. The susceptibility to auricular chondritis in NOD.DQ8 mice can be attributed to response to CIX. A higher number of activated cells, CD4+CD44hiCD62Llo, and lower regulatory cells CD4+CD152+CD25+ were observed in NOD.DQ8 mice compared with B10.DQ8 mice. The NOD.DQ8 mice provide a model of RP with a high disease incidence and multiple organ involvement to investigate putative autoantigen and regulatory cells involved in disease pathogenesis. An experimental model restricted by the human class II molecule will be valuable when studying the role of various collagens in immunologic and pathologic responses in human RP.
PMCID: PMC296991  PMID: 14679179
15.  Epicutaneous Immunization with Type II Collagen Inhibits both Onset and Progression of Chronic Collagen-Induced Arthritis 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(4):e387.
Epicutaneous immunization is a potential non-invasive technique for antigen-specific immune-modulation. Topical application of protein antigens to barrier-disrupted skin induces potent antigen-specific immunity with a strong Th2-bias. In this study, we investigate whether the autoimmune inflammatory response of chronic collagen-induced arthritis (CCIA) in DBA/1-TCR-β Tg mice can be modified by epicutaneous immunization. We show that epicutaneous immunization with type II collagen (CII) inhibited development and progression of CCIA and, importantly, also ameliorated ongoing disease as indicated by clinical scores of disease severity, paw swelling and joints histology. Treated mice show reduced CII-driven T cell proliferation and IFN-γ production, as well as significantly lower levels of CII-specific IgG2a serum antibodies. In contrast, CII-driven IL-4 production and IgE antibody levels were increased consistent with skewing of the CII response from Th1 to Th2 in treated mice. IL-4 production in treated mice was inversely correlated with disease severity. Moreover, T cells from treated mice inhibited proliferation and IFN-γ production by T cells from CCIA mice, suggesting induction of regulatory T cells that actively inhibit effector responses in arthritic mice. The levels of CD4+CD25+ T cells were however not increased following epicutaneous CII treatment. Together, these results suggest that epicutaneous immunization may be used as an immune-modulating procedure to actively re-programme pathogenic Th1 responses, and could have potential as a novel specific and simple treatment for chronic autoimmune inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
PMCID: PMC1849892  PMID: 17440622
16.  Adjuvant properties of a biocompatible thermo-responsive polymer of N-isopropylacrylamide in autoimmunity and arthritis 
To evaluate the thermo-responsive poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNiPAAm) polymer as an adjuvant, we synthesized PNiPAAm through free radical polymerization and characterized it both in vitro and in vivo. The polymer when mixed with collagen type II (CII) induced antigen-specific autoimmunity and arthritis. Mice immunized with PNiPAAm–CII developed significant levels of CII-specific IgG response comprising major IgG subclasses. Antigen-specific cellular recall response was also enhanced in these mice, while negligible level of IFN-γ was detected in splenocyte cultures, in vitro. PNiPAAm–CII-immunized arthritic mouse paws showed massive infiltration of immune cells and extensive damage to cartilage and bone. As determined by immunostaining, most of the CII protein retained its native configuration after injecting it with PNiPAAm in naive mice. Physical adsorption of CII and the high-molecular-weight form of moderately hydrophobic PNiPAAm induced a significant anti-CII antibody response. Similar to CII, mice immunized with PNiPAAm and ovalbumin (PNiPAAm–Ova) induced significant anti-ovalbumin antibody response. Comparable levels of serum IFN-γ, IL-1β and IL-17 were observed in ovalbumin-immunized mice with complete Freund, incomplete Freund (CFA and IFA) or PNiPAAm adjuvants. However, serum IL-4 levels were significantly higher in PNiPAAm–Ova and CFA–Ova groups compared with the IFA–Ova group. Thus, we show for the first time, biocompatible and biodegradable thermo-responsive PNiPAAm can be used as an adjuvant in several immunological applications as well as in better understanding of the autoimmune responses against self-proteins.
PMCID: PMC3203480  PMID: 21543351
thermo-responsive polymer; biocompatibility; collagen; arthritis; autoimmunity
17.  Engineered Tregulatory cells co-expressing MHC class II:peptide complexes are efficient inhibitors of autoimmune T cell function and prevent the development of autoimmune arthritis 
Treg cells are critical homeostatic components in preventing the development of autoimmunity, and are a major focus for their therapeutic potential for autoimmune diseases. In order to enhance the efficacy of Treg cells in adoptive therapy, we developed a strategy for generating engineered Tregs that have the capacity to target autoimmune T cells in an antigen specific manner. Using a retroviral expression system encoding Foxp3 and HLA-DR1 covalently linked to the immunodominant peptide of the autoantigen type II collagen (DR1-CII), naïve T cells were engineered to become Treg cells that express DR1-CII complexes on their surface. When these cells were tested for their ability to prevent the development of collagen induced arthritis, both the engineered DR1-CII-Foxp3 and Foxp3 only Treg cells significantly reduced the severity and incidence of disease. However, the mechanism buy which these two populations of Treg cells inhibited disease differed significantly. Disease inhibition by the DR1-CII-Foxp3 Treg cells was accompanied by significantly lower numbers of autoimmune CII-specific T cells in vivo and lower levels of autoantibodies in comparison to engineered Tregs expressing Foxp3 alone. Additionally, the numbers of IFN-γ and IL-17 expressing T cells in mice treated with DR1-CII-Foxp3 Tregs were also significantly reduced in comparison to mice treated with Foxp3 engineered Treg cells or vector control cells. These data indicate that the co-expression of class II autoantigen-peptide complexes on Treg cells provides these cells with a distinct capacity to regulate autoimmune T cell responses that differs from that used by conventional Treg cells.
PMCID: PMC3673549  PMID: 23630354
18.  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
19.  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
20.  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
21.  Staphylococcal enterotoxin B increases the severity of type II collagen induced arthritis in mice. 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1995;54(4):298-304.
OBJECTIVE--To observe the influence of T cell subset changes on the development of experimental arthritis, by using the bacterial superantigen staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB) to modulate the T cell repertoire during the arthritogenic response to type II collagen (CII) in vivo. METHODS--DBA/1 mice were injected with SEB before immunisation with CII, and assessed for the development of collagen induced arthritis (CIA) and an immune response to CII. Mice with established arthritis were also treated therapeutically with SEB. Flow cytometry was used to evaluate the effect of the therapy on T cell subsets and T cell receptor (TCR) V beta expression. RESULTS--Mice injected with SEB developed arthritis significantly faster than saline treated control animals, and developed more severe clinical features. Mice treated with SEB after the onset of CIA were also observed to progress more rapidly to a severe arthritis than mice treated with saline alone. The level of anti-CII antibody was not affected by SEB injection. Flow cytometric analysis of TCR expression in mice 21 days after injection of CII showed decreased expression of V beta 6 and V beta 8 cells in SEB treated mice, compared with collagen immunised control mice. Injection of SEB alone caused a decrease in V beta 8, but not V beta 6 T cells compared with the values in normal DBA/1 mice. No significant variations in the T cell repertoire were detected 70 days after CII immunisation. CONCLUSIONS--Treatment with the bacterial enterotoxin SEB before the induction of arthritis did not suppress the immunological or arthritogenic response to CII in DBA/1 mice, despite the modulation of the V beta 8 T cell subset. Treatment of mice with established arthritis using SEB provoked a more severe disease course.
PMCID: PMC1005577  PMID: 7763108
22.  Type II Collagen Induces Peripheral Tolerance in BALB/c Mice via the Generation of CD8+ T Regulatory Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e48635.
Antigens introduced into the anterior chamber (AC) of the eye induce a potent form of antigen-specific peripheral immune tolerance termed AC-associated immune deviation (ACAID), which prevents inflammatory immune responses and is characterized by impaired delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) responses. Type-II collagen (CII) is a fibrillar protein expressed exclusively in cartilage tissues. Although of its clinical relevance to Rheumatoid arthritis, aging, and osteoarthritis, there have been no studies to date to test if CII has the ability to induce ACAID. We hypothesized that ACAID could be generated via AC injection of CII in BALB/c mice. Using a DTH assay, the hypothesis was supported and led to another hypothesis that CII is capable of inducing specific immune tolerance via CD8+ T regulatory cells (Tregs). Thus, we performed functional local adoptive transfer (LAT) assays to examine the regulatory roles of spleen cells, T cells, and CD8+ T cells in the specific immune regulation induced by CII injection into the AC. Results indicated that CII induced ACAID when injected into the AC. Spleen cells of mice injected with CII in the AC significantly suppressed DTH responses. The T cell compartment of the spleen was capable of expressing this suppression. CD8+ Tregs could solely express this CII-driven suppression and even exerted more noticeable suppression than spleen cells or splenic T cells. This study suggests a crucial role for CD8+ Tregs in mediating CII-driven ACAID-mediated immune tolerance. This could have therapeutic implications in Rheumatoid arthritis, aging, osteoarthritis, and other diseases in which CII is involved.
PMCID: PMC3487721  PMID: 23133648
23.  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
24.  Alpha-1 antitrypsin protein and gene therapies decrease autoimmunity and delay arthritis development in mouse model 
Alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) is a multi-functional protein that has anti-inflammatory and tissue protective properties. We previously reported that human AAT (hAAT) gene therapy prevented autoimmune diabetes in non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice and suppressed arthritis development in combination with doxycycline in mice. In the present study we investigated the feasibility of hAAT monotherapy for the treatment of chronic arthritis in collagen-induced arthritis (CIA), a mouse model of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
DBA/1 mice were immunized with bovine type II collagen (bCII) to induce arthritis. These mice were pretreated either with hAAT protein or with recombinant adeno-associated virus vector expressing hAAT (rAAV-hAAT). Control groups received saline injections. Arthritis development was evaluated by prevalence of arthritis and arthritic index. Serum levels of B-cell activating factor of the TNF-α family (BAFF), antibodies against both bovine (bCII) and mouse collagen II (mCII) were tested by ELISA.
Human AAT protein therapy as well as recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV8)-mediated hAAT gene therapy significantly delayed onset and ameliorated disease development of arthritis in CIA mouse model. Importantly, hAAT therapies significantly reduced serum levels of BAFF and autoantibodies against bCII and mCII, suggesting that the effects are mediated via B-cells, at least partially.
These results present a new drug for arthritis therapy. Human AAT protein and gene therapies are able to ameliorate and delay arthritis development and reduce autoimmunity, indicating promising potential of these therapies as a new treatment strategy for RA.
PMCID: PMC3050720  PMID: 21345239
25.  Marginal zone B cells are naturally reactive to collagen type II and are involved in the initiation of the immune response in collagen-induced arthritis 
Antibodies against type II collagen (CII) are essential for development of collagen-induced arthritis (CIA), but how and where the B-cell response to CII is initiated is not fully known. We show here that naive DBA/1 mice display naturally reactive IgM and IgG anti-CII producing B cells prior to immunization. The CII-reactive B cells were observed in the spleen and recognized as marginal zone (MZ) B cells. After CII immunization, CII-specific B cells expanded rapidly in the spleen, in contrast to the lymph nodes, with the initial response derived from MZ B cells and later by follicular (FO) B cells. This was evident despite that the MZ B cells were subject to stringent tolerance mechanisms by having a greater Fc gamma receptor IIb expression than the FO B cells. Further, the MZ B cells migrated to the FO areas upon immunization, possibly providing antigen and activating FO T cells and subsequently FO B cells. Thus, around CIA onset increased numbers of IgG anti-CII producing FO B cells was seen in the spleen, which was dominated by IgG2a- and IgG2b-positive cells. These data demonstrate that CII-reactive MZ B cells are present before and expand after CII immunization, suggesting an initiating role of MZ B cells in the development of CIA.
PMCID: PMC4002445  PMID: 21358667
arthritis; B cells; collagen type II; ELISpot; marginal zone; mice

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