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1.  Aberrant IL-1 signaling does not increase susceptibility of mice to NOD2-dependent uveitis 
NOD2 is the genetic cause of Blau syndrome, an autoinflammatory disease that manifests as coincident uveitis and arthritis. Since dysregulation of IL-1 signaling is considered a pathogenic mechanism in a number of related autoinflammatory conditions, we examined the extent to which unimpeded IL-1 signaling influences NOD2-dependent inflammation of the eye versus the joint.
Mice deficient for IL-1R antagonist (IL-1Ra) were administered the NOD2 agonist muramyl dipeptide (MDP) by systemic (intraperitoneal) or local (intraocular and/or intra-articular) injections. NOD2-deficient mice received an intraocular injection of recombinant IL-1β. Uveitis was evaluated by intravital videomicroscopy and histopathology and arthritis was assessed by near-infrared imaging and histopathology. Ocular levels of IL-1α, IL-1β, and IL-1Ra were quantified by ELISA.
IL-1Ra deficiency did not render mice more responsive to systemic exposure of MDP. Despite the increased production of IL-1R agonists IL-1α and IL-1β in response to intraocular injection of MDP, deficiency in IL-1Ra did not predispose mice to MDP-triggered uveitis, albeit intravascular cell rolling and adherence were exacerbated. NOD2 expression was dispensable for the potential of IL-1 to elicit uveitis. However, we find that IL-1Ra does play an important protective role in arthritis induced locally by MDP injection in the joint.
Our findings highlight the complexity of NOD2 activation and IL-1 signaling effects that can be compounded by local environmental factors of the target organ. These observations may impact how we understand the molecular mechanisms by which NOD2 influences inflammation of the eye versus joint, and consequently, treatment options for uveitis versus arthritis.
PMCID: PMC4375092  PMID: 25255917
NOD2; IL-1β; IL-1Ra; anakinra; uveitis; arthritis
2.  Investigation of the peptidoglycan sensing molecule, PGLYRP-2, in murine inflammatory uveitis 
Peptidoglycan (PGN) recognition proteins (PGLYRPs) are innate immune molecules that recognise bacterial cell wall PGN, and participate in several inflammatory diseases such as arthritis. We sought to elucidate the contribution of PGLYRPs in murine uveitis (intraocular inflammatory disease) elicited by PGN, and the extent to which systemically administered PGN alters uveitis compared with arthritis versus locally triggered ocular responses.
Mice deficient for PGLYRP-2, PGLYRP-3 or PGLYRP-4 were administered PGN by an intraperitoneal or intraocular injection. Arthritis was assessed by near-infrared imaging and histopathology, while uveitis was measured by intravital videomicroscopy and histopathology.
Systemic PGN exposure predisposed to arthritis through a PGLYRP-2 dependent mechanism. By contrast, systemic PGN exposure did not predispose to uveitis, and PGLYRP-2 deficiency had no impact on the development the uveitis. When PGN was administered locally, a robust uveitis ensued, which occurred independently of PGLYRP-2. Regardless of whether PGN was administered systemically or locally, neither PGLYRP-3 nor PGLYRP-4 deficiency significantly altered ocular inflammation compared with wild-type control animals.
Our findings highlight the complexity of PGLYRPs and how PGLYRP-2 may use different molecular pathways in the joints versus eyes. Collectively, our results support a non-essential or redundant role for PGLYRPs-2, -3, -4 in uveitis.
PMCID: PMC4084548  PMID: 23361435
3.  Investigation of the relationship between the onset of arthritis and uveitis in genetically predisposed SKG mice 
Systemic rheumatic conditions are often accompanied by intraocular inflammatory disease (termed uveitis). Despite the frequent manifestation of uveitis with arthritis, very little is understood of the underlying mechanisms that mediate the eye’s susceptibility to disease. The genetically susceptible SKG mouse strain develops arthritis that arises from an inherent mutation that disrupts T-cell antigen receptor signal transduction and thymic selection. The ensuing T-cell–mediated disease is further modulated through exposure to microbial triggers. The purpose of this study was to elucidate how a genetically determined shift in the T-cell repertoire toward self-reactive T cells that drive arthritis influences uveitis in SKG mice.
SKG mice (BALB/c mice that harbor the W163C point mutation in zeta-chain-associated protein kinase 70 [i.e., ZAP-70]) were housed under arthritis-resistant, specific pathogen–free conditions. Arthritis was induced by intraperitoneal injection with fungal glucans (zymosan or curdlan). Arthritis onset and severity were evaluated by clinical scoring, histopathology and infrared imaging within the joints. Periocular traits involving blepharoconjunctivitis were evaluated by clinical scoring and histology. Eyes were evaluated for signs of anterior uveitis using intravital videomicroscopy to document cell-trafficking responses within the iris vasculature and stroma and by histology to detect inflammatory infiltrate and tissue damage within the anterior and posterior eye segments.
Exposure to zymosan resulted in the predicted arthritic, sexually dimorphic phenotype in SKG mice. The eyes of SKG mice exhibited episodic intravascular cellular responses to zymosan or curdlan as indicated by significant increases in leukocyte–endothelium interactions akin to ocular vasculitis. However, despite the significant increase in early cell-trafficking responses, cellular infiltration into the iris stroma was not observed and histopathological signs indicative of a sustained uveitis were absent. Instead, eyes of SKG mice developed blepharoconjunctivitis that coincided with arthritis and exhibited sexual dimorphism.
This study underscores the complexity surrounding the pathogenesis of uveitis and its relationship with arthritis. The findings suggest that distinct mechanisms exist by which pathogenic autoimmune T cells target the eyes versus joints, which likely involves the environmental context but nonetheless should be taken into account in the identification and development of effective therapies for each organ.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13075-015-0725-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4544812  PMID: 26286534
4.  IFNγ regulates discordant mechanisms of uveitis versus joint and axial disease in a murine model resembling spondyloarthritis 
Arthritis and Rheumatism  2012;64(3):762-771.
The spondyloarthropathies (such as ankylosing spondylitis) are multi-system inflammatory diseases that frequently result in uveitis, or intra-ocular eye inflammation. Despite the common co-occurrence of uveitis with arthritis, there has been no explanation for the eye’s susceptibility to inflammation. Using an innovative intravital videomicroscopic approach, we discovered the co-existence of uveitis with axial and peripheral joint inflammation in mice immunized with cartilage proteoglycan (PG). Here, we elucidate the characteristics of uveitis and test the impact of IFNγ deficiency on the eye versus the joint and spine.
Female, TCR-Tg or IFNγ knock-out crossed to TCR-Tg mice were immunized with PG. Uveitis was assessed by intravital videomicroscopy and histology. The clinical and histopathologic severity of arthritis and spondylitis were evaluated. Bone remodeling process within the spine was assessed by whole-body NIR imaging. Immunoblotting and immunofluorescence staining were used to examine expression of PG and ADAMTS-5 along with examination of the cellular composition of uveitic eyes.
PG neo-epitopes along with the aggrecanase, ADAMTS-5, are present in the eye as they are the joint. Anterior uveitis develops in response to PG immunization. The cellular infiltrate consists mainly of neutrophils and eosinophils. Unexpectedly, IFNγ deficiency markedly exacerbates uveitis while ameliorating joint and spine disease, indicating divergent mechanisms that drive diseases in the eye versus joints and spine.
This is the first detailed description of a murine disease model wherein uveitis coincides with arthritis and spondylitis. Our observations provide great opportunity to understand the pathogenesis of a relatively common but poorly understood disease.
PMCID: PMC3271189  PMID: 21987263
5.  Neutralization of IL-17 ameliorates uveitis but damages photoreceptors in a murine model of spondyloarthritis 
Uveitis, or intraocular inflammatory disease, is a frequent extra-articular manifestation of several forms of arthritis. Despite the frequent co-occurrence of uveitis and arthritis, little is understood of the eye's predisposition to this disease. We recently described a previously unreported uveitis in a murine model of spondyloarthropathy triggered by autoimmunity to aggrecan, a prominent proteoglycan (PG) macromolecule in cartilage. In contrast to the joint and spine, wherein interferon-gamma (IFNγ) deficiency reduced disease, IFNγ deficiency worsened uveitis. Given the regulatory role of IFNγ on the Th17 response and the current focus of anti-interleukin-17 therapeutics in patients with uveitis and spondyloarthritis, we sought to determine the extent to which interleukin (IL)-17 mediates uveitis in the absence of IFNγ.
Antigen specific T cell cytokine production was measured in splenocyte cultures using multiplex-ELISA. Transgenic (Tg) mice expressing the T cell receptor (TCR) recognizing the dominant arthritogenic epitope in the G1 domain of PG (TCR-Tg), also lacking IFNγ, were immunized with PG. Mice were then systemically administered an anti-IL-17 neutralizing antibody. The onset and severity of peripheral arthritis was evaluated by clinical scoring criteria and histology. Uveitis was assessed using intravital videomicroscopy, which visualizes leukocyte trafficking within the vasculature and tissue of the iris, and by histology.
TCR-Tg splenocytes stimulated in vitro with recombinant G1 peptide demonstrated exacerbated production of cytokines, such as macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-1α, MIP-1β, IL-1β, and most notably IL-17A as a consequence of IFNγ deficiency. In vivo, IL-17 inhibition prevented the component of PG-induced arthritis that occurs independently of IFNγ. Blockade of IL-17 ameliorated the ongoing leukocyte trafficking responses within the iris vasculature and tissue, which coincided with reduced infiltration of leukocytes within the anterior and posterior eye segments. However, the anti-IL-17 treatment resulted in unanticipated photoreceptor toxicity.
These data support a protective, regulatory role for IFNγ in suppression of IL-17-mediated intraocular disease and to a lesser extent, joint disease. The unanticipated photoreceptor toxicity raises some caution regarding the use of anti-IL-17 therapeutics until the mechanism of this potential effect is determined.
PMCID: PMC3392808  PMID: 22269151
6.  NOD2 and TLR2 function independently in a murine model of arthritis triggered by intra-articular peptidoglycan 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2010;62(4):1051-1059.
Blau syndrome is an autoinflammatory disease resulting from mutations in NOD2 (nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain 2), wherein granulomatous arthritis, uveitis and dermatitis develop. The mechanisms by which aberrant NOD2 causes joint inflammation are poorly understood. Indeed very few studies have addressed NOD2 function in the joint. Here, we investigate NOD2 function in an experimental model of arthritis and explore the potential interplay between TLR2 and NOD2 in joint inflammation.
Mice deficient for TLR2, MyD88, or NOD2 and their wildtype controls were administered an intra-articular injection of muramyl dipeptide (MDP), peptidoglycan (PGN) (a metabolite of which is MDP), or Pam3CSK4, a synthetic TLR2 agonist. Joint inflammation was assessed using near-infrared fluorescence imaging and histology.
Locally administered PGN results in joint inflammation, which was markedly reduced in mice deficient for either TLR2 or the TLR signaling mediator, MyD88. In addition to TLR2 signaling events, NOD2 mediated joint inflammation since mice deficient for NOD2 showed significantly reduced PGN-induced arthritis. TLR2 or MyD88 deficiency did not influence arthritis induced by the specific NOD2 agonist, MDP. In addition, NOD2 deficiency did not alter TLR2-dependent joint inflammation elicited by the synthetic TLR2 agonist, Pam3CSK4.
Whereas NOD2 and TLR2 are both critical for the development of PGN-arthritis, they appear to elicit inflammation independently of each other. Our studies support an inflammatory role for NOD2 in arthritis.
PMCID: PMC2945367  PMID: 20131263
7.  FcgammaR expression on macrophages is related to severity and chronicity of synovial inflammation and cartilage destruction during experimental immune-complex-mediated arthritis (ICA) 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(6):489-503.
We investigated the role of Fcγ receptors (FcγRs) on synovial macrophages in immune-complex-mediated arthritis (ICA). ICA elicited in knee joints of C57BL/6 mice caused a short-lasting, florid inflammation and reversible loss of proteoglycans (PGs), moderate chondrocyte death, and minor erosion of the cartilage. In contrast, when ICA was induced in knee joints of Fc receptor (FcR) γ-chain-/- C57BL/6 mice, which lack functional FcγRI and RIII, inflammation and cartilage destruction were prevented. When ICA was elicited in DBA/1 mice, a very severe, chronic inflammation was observed, and significantly more chondrocyte death and cartilage erosion than in arthritic C57BL/6 mice. The synovial lining and peritoneal macrophages of naïve DBA/1 mice expressed a significantly higher level of FcγRs than was seen in C57BL/6 mice. Moreover, elevated and prolonged expression of IL-1 was found after stimulation of these cells with immune complexes. Zymosan or streptococcal cell walls caused comparable inflammation and only mild cartilage destruction in all strains. We conclude that FcγR expression on synovial macrophages may be related to the severity of synovial inflammation and cartilage destruction during ICA.
Fcγ receptors (FcγRs) present on cells of the haematopoietic lineage communicate with IgG-containing immune complexes that are abundant in the synovial tissue of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In mice, three classes of FcγR (RI, RII, and RIII) have been described. Binding of these receptors leads to either activation (FcγRI and RIII) or deactivation (FcγRII) of intracellular transduction pathways. Together, the expression of activating and inhibitory receptors is thought to drive immune-complex-mediated diseases.
Earlier studies in our laboratory showed that macrophages of the synovial lining are of utmost importance in the onset and propagation of immune-complex-driven arthritic diseases. Selective depletion of macrophages in the joint downregulated both inflammation and cartilage destruction. As all three classes of FcγR are expressed on synovial macrophages, these cells are among the first that come in contact with immune complexes deposited in the joint. Recently, we observed that when immune complexes were injected into the knee joints of mice, strains susceptible to collagen-type-II arthritis (DBA/1, B10.RIII) developed more severe arthritis than nonsusceptible strains did, or even developed chronic arthritis. One reason why these strains are more susceptible might be their higher levels of FcγRs on macrophage membranes. To test this hypothesis, we investigated the role of FcγRs in inflammation and cartilage damage during immune-complex-mediated arthritis (ICA). First, we studied arthritis and subsequent cartilage damage in mice lacking functional FcγRI and RIII (FcR γ-chain-/- mice). Next, DBA/1 mice, which are prone to develop collagen-type-II arthritis (`collagen-induced arthritis'; CIA) and are hypersensitive to immune complexes, were compared with control C57BL/6 mice as regards cartilage damage and the expression and function of FcγRs on their macrophages.
To examine whether FcγR expression on macrophages is related to severity of synovial inflammation and cartilage destruction during immune-complex-mediated joint inflammation.
ICA was induced in three strains of mice (FcR γ-chain-/-, C57BL/6, and DBA/1, which have, respectively, no functional FcγRI and RIII, intermediate basal expression of FcγRs, and high basal expression of FcγRs) by passive immunisation using rabbit anti-lysozyme antibodies, followed by poly-L-lysine lysozyme injection into the right knee joint 1 day later. In other experiments, streptococcal-cell-wall (SCW)- or zymosan-induced arthritis was induced by injecting SCW (25 μg) or zymosan (180 μg) directly into the knee joint. At several time points after arthritis induction, knee joints were dissected and studied either histologically (using haematoxylin/eosin or safranin O staining) or immuno-histochemically. The arthritis severity and the cartilage damage were scored separately on an arbitrary scale of 0-3.
FcγRs were immunohistochemically detected using the monoclonal antibody 2.4G2, which detects both FcγRII and RIII. Deposition of IgG and C3c in the arthritic joint tissue was also detected immunohistochemically. Expression of FcγRs by murine peritoneal macrophages was measured using a fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS).
Peritoneal macrophages were stimulated using heat-aggregated gamma globulins (HAGGs), and production of IL-1 was measured using a bioassay. To assess the levels of IL-1 and its receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) during arthritis, tissue was dissected and washed in RPMI medium. Washouts were tested for levels of IL-1 and IL-1Ra using radioimmunoassay and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. mRNA was isolated from the tissue, and levels of macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-2, monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP)-1, IL-1, and IL-1Ra were determined using semiquantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).
ICA induced in knee joints of C57BL/6 mice caused a florid inflammation at day 3 after induction. To investigate whether this arthritis was FcγR-mediated, ICA was induced in FcR γ-chain-/- mice, which lack functional FcγRI and RIII. At day3, virtually no inflammatory cells were found in their knee joints. Levels of mRNA of IL-1, IL-1Ra, MCP-1, and MIP-2, which are involved in the onset of this arthritis, were significantly lower in FcR γ-chain-/- mice than in control C57BL/6 mice. Levels of IL-1 protein were also measured. At 6 h after ICA induction, FcR γ-chain-/- mice and control C57BL/6 mice showed similar IL-1 production as measured by protein level. By 24 h after induction, however, IL-1 production in the FcR γ-chain-/- mice was below the detection limit, whereas the controls were still producing a significant amount. To investigate whether the difference in reaction to immune complexes between the DBA/1 and C57BL/6 mice might be due to variable expression of FcγRs in the knee joint, expression in situ of FcγRs in naïve knee joints of these mice was determined. The monoclonal antibody 2.4G2, which detects both FcγRII and RIII, stained macrophages from the synovial lining of DBA/1 mice more intensely than those from C57BL/6 mice. This finding suggests a higher constitutive expression of FcγRs by macrophages of the autoimmune-prone DBA/1 mice. To quantify the difference in FcγR expression on macrophages of the two strains, we determined the occurrence of FcγRs on peritoneal macrophages by FACS analysis. The levels of FcγR expressed by macrophages were twice as high in the DBA/1 mice as in the C57BL/6 mice (mean fluorescence, respectively, 440 ± 50 and 240 ± 30 intensity per cell). When peritoneal macrophages of both strains were stimulated with immune complexes (HAGGs), we found that the difference in basal FcγR expression was functional. The stimulated macrophages from DBA/1 mice had significantly higher IL-1α levels (120 and 135 pg/ml at 24 and 48 h, respectively) than cells from C57BL/6 mice (45 and 50 pg/ml, respectively).
When arthritis was induced using other arthritogenic triggers than immune complexes (zymosan, SCW), all the mouse strains tested (DBA/1, FcR γ-chain-/-, and C57BL/6) showed similar inflammation, indicating that the differences described above are found only when immune complexes are used to elicit arthritis.
We next compared articular cartilage damage in arthritic joints of the three mouse strains FcR γ-chain-/-, C57BL/6 (intermediate basal expression of FcγRs), and DBA/1 (high basal expression of FcγRs). Three indicators of cartilage damage were investigated: depletion of PGs, chondrocyte death, and erosion of the cartilage matrix. At day 3 after induction of ICA, there was no PG depletion in FcR γ-chain-/- mice, whereas PG depletion in the matrix of the C57BL/6 mice was marked and that in the arthritic DBA/1 mice was even greater. PG depletion was still massive at days 7 and 14 in the DBA/1 mice, whereas by day 14 the PG content was almost completely restored in knee joints of the C57BL/6 mice. Chondrocyte death and erosion of cartilage matrix, two indicators of more severe cartilage destruction, were significantly higher in the DBA/1 than in the C57BL/6 mice, while both indicators were completely absent in the FcR γ-chain-/- mice. Again, when arthritis was induced using other triggers (SCW, zymosan), all strains showed similar PG depletion and no chondrocyte death or matrix erosion. These findings underline the important role of immune complexes and FcγRs in irreversible cartilage damage.
Our findings indicate that inflammation and subsequent cartilage damage caused by immune complexes may be related to the occurrence of FcγRs on macrophages. The absence of functional FcγRI and RIII prevented inflammation and cartilage destruction after induction of ICA, whereas high basal expression of FcγRs on resident joint macrophages of similarly treated mice susceptible to autoimmune arthritis was correlated with markedly more synovial inflammation and cartilage destruction. The difference in joint inflammation between the three strains was not due to different susceptibilities to inflammation per se, since intra-articular injection of zymosan or SCW caused comparable inflammation. Although extensive inflammatory cell mass was found in the synovium of all strains after intra-articular injection of zymosan, no irreversible cartilage damage (chondrocyte death or matrix erosion) was found. ICA induced in C57BL/6 and DBA/1 mice did cause irreversible cartilage damage at later time points, indicating that immune complexes and FcγRs play an important role in inducing irreversible cartilage damage. Macrophages communicate with immune complexes via Fcγ receptors. Absence of functional activating receptors completely abrogates the synovial inflammation, as was shown after ICA induction in FcR γ-chain-/- mice. However, the γ-chain is essential not only in FcγRI and RIII but also for FcεRI (found on mast cells) and the T cell receptor (TcR)-CD3 (Tcells) complex of γδT cells. However, T, B, or mast cells do not play a role in this arthritis that is induced by passive immunisation. Furthermore, this effect was not caused by a difference in clearance of IgG or complement deposition in the tissue. In this study, DBA/1 mice, which are susceptible to collagen-induced autoimmune arthritis and in a recent study have been shown to react hypersensitively to immune complexes, are shown to express higher levels of FcγRs on both synovial and peritoneal macrophages. Because antibodies directed against the different subclasses of FcγR are not available, no distinction could be made between FcγRII and RIII. Genetic differences in DBA/1 mice in genes coding for or regulating FcγRs may be responsible for altered FcγR expression. If so, these mouse strains would have a heightened risk for immune-complex-mediated diseases.
To provide conclusive evidence for the roles of the various classes of FcγR during ICA, experiments are needed in which FcγRs are blocked with specific antibodies, or in which knockout mice lacking one specific class of FcγR are used. The only available specific antibody to FcγR (2.4G2) has a stimulatory effect on cells once bound to the receptor, and therefore cannot be used in blocking experiments. Experiments using specific knockout mice are now being done in our laboratory.
Macrophages are the dominant type of cell present in chronic inflammation during RA and their number has been shown to correlate well with severe cartilage destruction. Apart from that, in humans, these synovial tissue macrophages express activating FcRs, mainly FcγIIIa, which may lead to activation of these macrophages by IgG-containing immune complexes. The expression of FcRs on the surface of these cells may have important implications for joint inflammation and severe cartilage destruction and therefore FCRs may constitute a new target for therapeutic intervention.
PMCID: PMC17821  PMID: 11056679
autoimmunity; cytokines; Fc receptors; inflammation; macrophages
8.  NOD2 Deficiency Results in Increased Susceptibility to Peptidoglycan-Induced Uveitis in Mice 
The regulatory roles for NOD2 versus TLR signaling were explored in murine uveitis triggered by peptidoglycan.
The innate immune receptor NOD2 is a genetic cause of uveitis (Blau syndrome). Intriguingly, in the intestine where polymorphisms of NOD2 predispose to Crohn's disease, NOD2 reportedly suppresses inflammation triggered by the bacterial cell wall component, peptidoglycan (PGN). Whether NOD2 exerts a similar capacity in the regulation of ocular inflammation to PGN has not been explored.
NOD2, NOD1, or MyD88 knockout (KO) mice and their wild-type (WT) controls were administered an intravitreal injection of PGN (a metabolite of which is the NOD2 agonist, muramyl dipeptide), or synthetic TLR2/1 and TLR2/6 agonists, Pam3CSK4 and FSL-1. Ocular inflammation was assessed by intravital microscopy and histopathology. Cytokine production in eye tissue homogenates was measured by ELISA.
PGN triggered uveitis in mice. This inflammation was abolished in the absence of the TLR signaling mediator MyD88. NOD2 exerted a negative regulatory role because PGN-triggered eye inflammation was exacerbated in NOD2 KO mice. Increased intravascular response coincided with enhanced leukocytes within the aqueous and vitreous humors. The enhanced susceptibility of NOD2 KO mice to PGN uveitis coincided with increased cytokine production of IL-12p40, IL-17, and IL-23 but not IL-12p70, TNFα, or IFNγ. NOD1 deficiency did not result in the same sensitivity to PGN. Ocular inflammation induced by synthetic TLR2 agonists required MyD88 but not NOD2 or NOD1.
NOD2 may serve differential roles in the eye to promote inflammation while also tempering cell responses to PGN akin to what has been reported in colitis.
PMCID: PMC3175939  PMID: 21296813
9.  NOD1 Expression in the Eye and Functional Contribution to IL-1β–Dependent Ocular Inflammation in Mice 
NOD1 plays an important role in host defense and recognizes the minimal component of bacterial cell walls, meso-diaminopimelic acid (iE-DAP). Polymorphisms in NOD1 are associated with autoinflammatory diseases characterized by uveitis such as Crohn’s disease and sarcoidosis. NOD1 is homologous to NOD2, which is responsible for an autosomal dominant form of uveitis. Nonetheless, the role of NOD1 in intraocular inflammation has not been explored. The induction of uveitis by iE-DAP in mice and the potential contribution of interleukin (IL)-1β were investigated.
BALB/c mice or mice deficient in caspase-1 or IL-1R1 and their congenic controls were injected intravitreally with iE-DAP or saline. The time course, dose response, and contribution of IL-1β to ocular inflammation were quantified by intravital video microscopy, histology, and immunohistochemistry. NOD1 and IL-1β were measured in eye tissue by immunoblotting and ELISA.
NOD1 protein is expressed in the eye and promotes ocular inflammation in a dose- and time-dependent fashion. The authors previously defined the role of IL-1β in NOD2 uveitis and tested whether NOD1 and NOD2 used similar mechanisms. Treatment with iE-DAP significantly increased IL-1β, which was caspase-1 dependent. However, in contrast to NOD2, caspase-1 and IL-1R1 were essential mediators of iEDAP– induced uveitis, suggesting that NOD1 and NOD2 induce ocular inflammation by distinct mechanisms involving IL-1β.
These findings demonstrate that NOD1 is expressed within the eye and that its activation results in uveitis in an IL-1β–dependent mechanism. Characterizing the differences between NOD1 and NOD2 responses may provide insight into the pathogenesis of uveitis.
PMCID: PMC3086269  PMID: 19074813
10.  NOD2, the Gene Responsible for Familial Granulomatous Uveitis, in a Mouse Model of Uveitis 
NOD2 plays an important role in the recognition of intracellular bacteria through its ability to sense the components of bacterial peptidoglycan (PGN), namely muramyl dipeptide (MDP) and muramyl tripeptide (MTP). Specific mutations in the human NOD2 gene cause Blau syndrome, an autosomal dominant form of uveitis, arthritis, and dermatitis. As a first step toward understanding the role of NOD2 in the pathogenesis of uveitis, the authors developed a mouse model of MDP-dependent uveitis.
BALB/c mice and mice deficient in L-selectin or NOD2 received intravitreal injection of MDP, MTP, or PGN. The intravascular response within the iris and cellular infiltration was quantified by intravital microscopy and histologic assessment.
MDP induced an acute, ocular inflammatory response, wherein rolling and adhering leukocytes within the vasculature were significantly increased within 6 hours after MDP treatment. A minor increase in cellular infiltration occurred at 12 hours after MDP treatment. The adhesion molecule L-selectin participated in MDP-induced vascular inflammation because L-selectin knockout mice showed a significant decrease in the number of rolling cells. Importantly, NOD2 plays an essential role in ocular inflammation induced by MDP, as indicated by the fact that uveitis did not develop in Nod2 knockout mice in response to MDP. Nod2 knockout mice also showed abolished ocular inflammation in response to MTP but not to PGN treatment.
These findings demonstrate a novel mouse model of uveitis, wherein NOD2 plays an essential role in inflammation induced by the minimal components of PGN. Thus, innate immune responses mediated by NOD2 may participate in the development of uveitis in response to bacterial products.
PMCID: PMC2430189  PMID: 18385071
11.  The NLRP3 inflammasome is active but not essential in endotoxin-induced uveitis 
Inflammation Research  2011;61(3):225-231.
The inflammasome complex involving caspase-1 and nucleotide-binding domain, leucine-rich repeat containing protein (NLRP)3, also known as NALP3 or cryopyrin is important for host responses to microbial pathogens and several autoinflammatory diseases. We investigated the extent to which NLRP3 and caspase-1 control ocular interleukin (IL)-1β production and severity of uveitis (intraocular inflammatory disease) in an established, acute inflammatory uveitis model, endotoxin-induced uveitis (EIU).
Expression of NLRP3, its adaptor molecule ASC, also known as PYCARD (PYD and CARD domain containing), and caspase-1 were examined by immunoblotting. IL-1β production was measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Using knockout mice, roles for caspase-1 and NLRP3 were examined in uveitis induced by intraocular injection of Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS).
NLRP3, ASC, and caspase-1 proteins are constitutively expressed in eye tissue. During EIU, IL-1β protein production increases; this requires the presence of both caspase-1 and NLRP3. However, severity of EIU is not altered by deficiency in either caspase-1 or NLRP3, as assessed by both intravital microscopy and histology.
These data identify the importance of the NLRP3 inflammasome for IL-1β production in the eye, yet indicate that its participation in EIU is nonessential.
PMCID: PMC3335428  PMID: 22119862
NLRP3; Caspase-1; Inflammasome; Uveitis; Mice; Lipopolysaccharide
12.  Long-term efficacy of adalimumab in the treatment of uveitis associated with juvenile idiopathic arthritis 
The purpose of this study was to investigate the long-term effects of adalimumab, a tumor necrosis factor alpha antagonist, in the treatment of uveitis associated with juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
Adalimumab was initiated in 94 patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis to treat active arthritis and/or active associated uveitis. In 18 patients, therapy was discontinued after a short period because of inefficacy or side effects. The activity of uveitis (using Standardized Uveitis Nomenclature [SUN] criteria and clinical examination) and arthritis (number of swollen or active joints) was evaluated at the start and at end of the study.
At the end of the study, uveitis was under good clinical control in two thirds of 54 patients (31% did not need any local treatment and 35% used only 1–2 corticosteroid drops a day), and one third had active uveitis (at least three corticosteroid drops a day). According to SUN criteria, adalimumab treatment for uveitis showed improved activity (a two-fold decrease in uveitis activity) in 28% of patients, with a moderate response in 16 patients, no change in a further 16 patients, and worsening activity (a two-fold increase in uveitis activity) in 13% of patients. The overall proportion of patients with active arthritis decreased. At the beginning of the study, 69% of patients with uveitis had more than two active joints, and at the end of the study only 27% had active joint disease. In 27 patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis without uveitis on adalimumab, the number of active joints decreased from 93% to 59%. Systemic corticosteroid treatment could be stopped in 22% of patients with uveitis and in 11% of those without uveitis. Most of the patients had received methotrexate, other immunosuppressive therapy, or other biological drugs before initiating adalimumab.
Adalimumab is a valuable option in the treatment of uveitis associated with active juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
PMCID: PMC3198418  PMID: 22034564
adalimumab; juvenile idiopathic arthritis; uveitis
13.  Nucleotide Oligomerization Domain-2 (NOD2)-Induced Uveitis: Dependence on IFN-γ 
Nucleotide oligomerization domain-2 (NOD2) plays an important role in innate immunity to sense muramyl dipeptide (MDP), a component of bacterial cell walls. Notably, NOD2 is linked to eye inflammation because mutations in NOD2 cause a granulomatous type of uveitis called Blau syndrome. A mouse model of NOD2-dependent ocular inflammation was employed to test the role of a cytokine strongly implicated in granuloma formation, IFN-γ, in order to gain insight into downstream functional consequences of NOD2 activation within the eye triggering uveitis.
Mice deficient in IFN-γ, NOD2, or CD11b and their wild-type controls were treated with intravitreal injection of MDP in the presence or absence of IFN-γ. IFN-γ production in the eye was measured by ELISA. The intravascular inflammatory response within the iris was quantified by intravital microscopy.
NOD2 activation resulted in the production of IFN-γ within the eye. Deficiency in IFN-γ diminished the development of MDP-induced uveitis, indicating its crucial role in downstream inflammatory events triggered by NOD2. Moreover, exogenous IFN-γ markedly exacerbated MDP-induced ocular inflammation in a NOD2-dependent mechanism. The potential of IFN-γ to enhance inflammation required the adhesion molecule CD11b because CD11b-deficient mice failed to show the synergistic effects of IFN-γ and MDP cotreatment on adhering and infiltrating cells.
IFN-γ was identified as a downstream mediator of NOD2-driven inflammation and the capacity of IFN-γ in vivo to enhance the inflammatory potential of NOD2 was demonstrated. Extrapolation of these findings in mice suggests that the dysregulation of IFN-γ may occur in patients with Blau syndrome, thereby contributing to the granulomatous nature of the disease.
PMCID: PMC3089593  PMID: 19098321
14.  Causes of uveitis in children without juvenile idiopathic arthritis 
The purpose of this study was to report the demographics, disease characteristics, treatments, and visual outcomes of pediatric uveitis patients without juvenile idiopathic arthritis managed in a tertiary medical center.
A retrospective, observational study was performed in pediatric uveitis patients without juvenile idiopathic arthritis and aged 0–18 years, who were seen at the University of Virginia from 1984 to 2014.
Thirty-nine pediatric uveitis patients (57 eyes) were identified. The patient population was 51.28% female, 51.28% Caucasian, and 33.33% African American. The mean age at diagnosis was 11.9 years. The mean duration of follow-up was 3.11 years. The mean number of visits to the clinic was 10.41. Of 57 eyes, 31 (54.39%) had anterior uveitis, 12 (21.05%) had intermediate uveitis, nine (15.79%) had posterior uveitis, and five (8.77%) had panuveitis. The leading diagnoses were traumatic uveitis (25.64%), undifferentiated anterior uveitis (17.95%), undifferentiated intermediate uveitis (15.38%), HLA-B27-associated anterior uveitis (7.69%), and herpetic anterior uveitis (7.69%). Systemic associations included sarcoidosis, ulcerative colitis, and psoriatic arthritis (n=3). The most common treatment modalities included local steroids (66.67%), systemic steroids (23.08%), and antimetabolites (20.51%). Ocular hypertension was found in five (12.82%) patients. Ocular surgery was performed in six (15.38%) patients. Mean best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) at baseline across all anatomical locations was 0.458 logMAR, and was 0.411 logMAR at final follow-up. Mean BCVA improved during follow-up in all but the anterior uveitis group. The mean baseline intraocular pressure was 14.27 mmHg, and was 14.22 mmHg at final follow-up.
Uveitis in childhood is a vision-threatening group of inflammatory disorders arising from numerous etiologies that vary geographically and historically. Because of the high burden of disease, the difficulty of making precise etiologic diagnoses, and the complicated management, it is imperative that affected children be referred to and closely monitored by uveitis specialists to prevent devastating ocular damage. This study found that BCVA and intraocular pressure did not vary significantly during follow-up, suggesting that close management by an ophthalmologist may prevent adverse visual outcomes, and highlighted the high prevalence of traumatic uveitis in children, which tends to have good visual outcomes.
PMCID: PMC4485847  PMID: 26150691
uveitis; pediatric; visual acuity; intraocular pressure
15.  A randomised controlled trial of the clinical effectiveness, safety and cost-effectiveness of adalimumab in combination with methotrexate for the treatment of juvenile idiopathic arthritis associated uveitis (SYCAMORE Trial) 
Trials  2014;15:14.
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is the most common rheumatic disease in children. Children with JIA are at risk of inflammation of the uvea in the eye (uveitis). Overall, 20% to 25% of paediatric uveitis is associated with JIA. Major risk factors for development of uveitis in JIA are oligoarticular pattern of arthritis, an age at onset of arthritis of less than seven years of age, and antinuclear antibody positivity. In the initial stages of mild to moderate inflammation the uveitis is asymptomatic. This has led to current practice of screening all children with JIA for uveitis. Approximately 12% to 38% of patients with JIA develop uveitis in seven years following onset of arthritis. In 30% to 50% of children with JIA-associated uveitis structural complications are present at diagnosis. Furthermore about 50% to 75% of those with severe uveitis will eventually develop visual impairment secondary to ocular complications such as cataract and glaucoma. Defining the severity of inflammation and structural complications in uveitis patients is now possible following Standardised Uveitis Nomenclature (SUN) guidelines, and modified to incorporate the consensus of end point and outcome criteria into the design of randomised trials. Despite current screening and therapeutic options (pre-biologics) 10% to 15% of children with JIA-associated uveitis may develop bilateral visual impairment and certified legally blind. To date, there remains no controlled trial evidence of benefits of biologic therapy.
This study will randomise 154 patients aged 2 to 18 years with active JIA-associated uveitis (despite methotrexate (MTX) treatment for at least 12 weeks). All participants will be treated for 18 months, with follow up of 3 years from randomisation (continuing on MTX throughout). All participants will receive a stable dose of MTX and in addition either adalimumab (20 mg/0.8 ml for patients <30 kg or 40 mg/0.8 ml for patients weighing 30 kg or more, subcutaneous (s/c) injection every 2 weeks based on body weight), or placebo (0.8 ml as appropriate according to body weight) s/c injection every 2 weeks.
This is the first randomised controlled trial that will assess the clinical effectiveness, safety and cost effectiveness of adalimumab in combination with methotrexate for the treatment of juvenile idiopathic arthritis associated uveitis.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3892031  PMID: 24405833
Adalimumab; Juvenile idiopathic arthritis; Methotrexate; Ophthalmology; Paediatric; Rheumatology; Safety; Uveitis
16.  CXCR4 But Not CXCR7 Is Mainly Implicated in Ocular Leukocyte Trafficking During Ovalbumin-Induced Acute Uveitis 
Experimental eye research  2009;89(4):522-531.
Uveitis is an inflammatory ocular disease characterized by the infiltration of T lymphocytes and other leukocytes into the eye. The recruitment of these inflammatory cells from systemic vasculature to ocular tissue is a well-coordinated multistep process including rolling, firm adhesion and transmigration. CXCL12 (SDF-1α) is an endothelial cell-derived cytokine interacting with CXCR4 and CXCR7, two chemokine receptors mainly expressed in T cells, neutrophils and monocytes. Recent studies have shown that CXCR4, CXCR7 and their ligand, CXCL12, are important for the regulation of leukocyte mobilization and trafficking. However, it is unclear whether these two chemokine receptors are implicated in the pathogenesis of uveitis. In this study, we used DO11.10 mice, whose CD4+ T cells are genetically engineered to react with ovalbumin (OVA), to investigate the role of CXCR4 and CXCR7 in an animal model of uveitis. Intravital microscopy revealed that intravitreal OVA challenge of DO11.10 mice caused the infiltration of both T cells and neutrophils. The invasion of these inflammatory cells coincided with the detection of transcriptional upregulation of CXCR4 and CXCR7 in the eye. In addition, both real time-PCR and immunohistochemistry revealed an enhanced expression of endothelial CXCL12. Furthermore, intraperitoneal injection of AMD3100 (a specific CXCR4 antagonist) significantly attenuated OVA-induced uveitis and CXCL12-mediated transwell migration. In contrast, intraperitoneal administration of CXCR7 neutralizing antibody did not significantly alter ocular infiltration of inflammatory cells caused by OVA challenge. Our data suggest that CXCR4 but not CXCR7 plays a critical role in antigen-induced ocular inflammation by facilitating leukocyte infiltration. This study not only enhances our knowledge of the immunopathological mechanism of uveitis but also provides a novel rationale to target CXCR4 as an anti-inflammatory strategy to treat uveitis.
PMCID: PMC2745349  PMID: 19524567
CXCL12; CXCR4; CXCR7; neutrophils; monocytes; ocular inflammation; T cells; uveitis
17.  Gene therapy for established murine collagen-induced arthritis by local and systemic adenovirus-mediated delivery of interleukin-4 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(4):293-302.
To determine whether IL-4 is therapeutic in treating established experimental arthritis, a recombinant adenovirus carrying the gene that encodes murine IL-4 (Ad-mIL-4) was used for periarticular injection into the ankle joints into mice with established collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). Periarticular injection of Ad-mIL-4 resulted in a reduction in the severity of arthritis and joint swelling compared with saline- and adenoviral control groups. Local expression of IL-4 also reduced macroscopic signs of joint inflammation and bone erosion. Moreover, injection of Ad-mIL-4 into the hind ankle joints resulted in a decrease in disease severity in the untreated front paws. Systemic delivery of murine IL-4 by intravenous injection of Ad-mIL-4 resulted in a significant reduction in the severity of early-stage arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic systemic autoimmune disease that is characterized by joint inflammation, and progressive cartilage and bone erosion. Recent research has identified certain biologic agents that appear more able than conventional therapies to halt effectively the progression of disease, as well as ameliorate disease symptoms. One potential problem with the use of biologic agents for arthritis therapy is the need for daily or weekly repeat dosing. The transfer of genes directly to the synovial lining can theoretically circumvent the need for repeat dosing and reduce potential systemic side effects [1,2]. However, although many genes have been effective in treating murine CIA if administrated at a time before disease onset, local intra-articular or periarticular gene transfer has not been highly effective in halting the progression of established disease. IL-4, similar to tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and IL-1 inhibitors, has been shown be therapeutic for the treatment of murine CIA when administered intravenously as a recombinant protein, either alone or in combination with IL-10. IL-4 can downregulate the production of proinflammatory and T-helper (Th)1-type cytokines by inducing mRNA degradation and upregulating the expression of inhibitors of proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) [3,4]. IL-4 is able to inhibit IL-2 and IFN-γ production by Th1 cells, resulting in suppression of macrophage activation and the production of the proinflammatory cytokines IL-1, IL-6, IL-8, and TNF-α by monocytes and macrophages [4,5,6,7,8,9].
In order to examine the therapeutic effects of local and systemic IL-4 expression in established CIA, an adenoviral vector carrying the gene for murine IL-4 (Ad-mIL-4) was generated. The ability of Ad-mIL-4 to treat established CIA was evaluated by local periarticular and systemic intravenous injection of Ad-mIL-4 into mice at various times after disease onset.
Materials and methods:
Male DBA/1 lacJ (H-2q) mice, aged 7-8 weeks, were purchased from The Jackson Laboratory (Bar Harbor, ME, USA). The mice were immunized intradermally at the base of tail with 100 μ g bovine type II collagen. On day 21 after priming, mice received a boost injection (intradermally) with 100 μ g type II collagen in incomplete adjuvant. For the synchronous onset of arthritis, 40 μ g lipopolysaccharide (Sigma, St Louis, MO, USA) was injected intraperitoneally on day 28. Ad-mIL-4 was injected periarticularly into the hind ankle joints of mice on day 32 or intravenously by tail vein injection on day 29. Disease severity was monitored every other day using an established macroscopic scoring system ranging from 0 to 4: 0, normal; 1, detectable arthritis with erythma; 2, significant swelling and redness; 3, severe swelling and redness from joint to digit; and 4, maximal swelling with ankylosis. The average of macroscopic score was expressed as a cumulative value for all paws, with a maximum possible score of 16 per mouse. Cytokine production by joint tissue or serum were assessed using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA; R&D Systems, Minneapolis, MN, USA).
To examine the therapeutic effects of IL-4 gene transfer in a murine model of arthritis, 5×108 particles of Ad-mIL-4 and enhanced green fluorescent protein (Ad-eGFP) were administered by periarticular injection into the ankle joints of mice with established disease 4 days after lipopolysaccharide injection. All mice had established disease at time of injection. As shown in Figure 1, the severity of arthritis (Fig. 1a), paw thickness (Fig. 1b), and the number of arthritic paws (Fig. 1c) were all significantly reduced in the Ad-mIL-4 group, compared with the saline- and Ad-eGFP-treated groups. Analysis of the bones in the ankle joints of control arthritic mice showed evidence of erosion with an associated monocytic infiltrate around the joint space compared with the Ad-mIL-4-treated and nonarthritic control joints. In addition, injection of the ankle joints in the hind legs resulted in a therapeutic effect in the front paws. A similar contralateral effect has been observed with adenoviral-mediated delivery of viral (v)-IL-10. Interestingly, a high level of murine IL-10 also was detected from the joint lysates of Ad-mIL-4-treated naïve and arthritic mice, with the production of endogenous IL-10 correlating with the dose of Ad-mIL-4. The administration of recombinant IL-4 protein systemically has been shown to be therapeutic in murine CIA models if given before disease onset. To examine the effect of systemic IL-4 delivered by gene transfer, 1×109 particles of Ad-mIL-4 were injected via the tail vein of collagen-immunized mice the day after lipopolysaccharide injection. Whereas the immunized control mice, injected with Ad-eGFP, showed disease onset on day 3 after lipopolysaccharide injection, Ad-mIL-4-treated mice showed a delay in disease onset and as a reduction in the total number of arthritic paws. Also, systemic injection of Ad-mIL-4 suppressed the severity of arthritis in CIA mice according to arthritis index.
Gene therapy represents a novel approach for delivery of therapeutic agents to joints in order to treat the pathologies associated with RA and osteoarthritis, as well as other disorders of the joints. In the present study we examined the ability of local periarticular and systemic gene transfer of IL-4 to treat established and early-stage murine CIA, respectively. We have demonstrated that both local and systemic administration of Ad-mIL-4 resulted in a reduction in the severity of arthritis, as well as in the number of arthritic paws. In addition, the local gene transfer of IL-4 reduced histologic signs of inflammation and of bone erosion. Interestingly, local delivery of Ad-mIL-4 was able to confer a therapeutic effect to the untreated, front paws through a currently unknown mechanism. In addition, both local and systemic expression of IL-4 resulted in an increase in the level of endogenous IL-10, as well as of IL-1Ra (data not shown). Previous experiments have shown that gene transfer of IL-10 and IL-1 and TNF inhibitors at the time of disease initiation (day 28) is therapeutic. However, delivery of these agents after disease onset appeared to have only limited therapeutic effect. In contrast, the present results demonstrate that IL-4, resulting from local periarticular and systemic injection of Ad-mIL-4, was able partially to reverse progression of established and early-stage disease, respectively. These results, as well as those of others, support the potential application of IL-4 gene therapy for the clinical treatment of RA.
PMCID: PMC17812  PMID: 11056670
adenoviral vectors; collagen-induced arthritis; gene therapy; IL-4; IL-10; rheumatoid arthritis
18.  Comparative Analysis of Induced vs. Spontaneous Models of Autoimmune Uveitis Targeting the Interphotoreceptor Retinoid Binding Protein 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72161.
Animal models of autoimmunity to the retina mimic specific features of human uveitis, but no model by itself reproduces the full spectrum of human disease. We compared three mouse models of uveitis that target the interphotoreceptor retinoid binding protein (IRBP): (i) the “classical” model of experimental autoimmune uveitis (EAU) induced by immunization with IRBP; (ii) spontaneous uveitis in IRBP T cell receptor transgenic mice (R161H) and (iii) spontaneous uveitis in Autoimmune Regulator (AIRE)−/− mice. Disease course and severity, pathology and changes in visual function were studied using fundus imaging and histological examinations, optical coherence tomography and electroretinography. All models were on the B10.RIII background. Unlike previously reported, IRBP-induced EAU in B10.RIII mice exhibited two distinct patterns of disease depending on clinical scores developed after onset: severe monophasic with extensive destruction of the retina and rapid loss of visual signal, or lower grade with a prolonged chronic phase culminating after several months in retinal degeneration and loss of vision. R161H and AIRE−/− mice spontaneously developed chronic progressive inflammation; visual function declined gradually as retinal degeneration developed. Spontaneous uveitis in R161H mice was characterized by persistent cellular infiltrates and lymphoid aggregation, whereas AIRE−/− mice characteristically developed multi-focal infiltrates and severe choroidal inflammation. These data demonstrate variability and unique distinguishing features in the different models of uveitis, suggesting that each one can represent distinct aspects of uveitis in humans.
PMCID: PMC3756070  PMID: 24015215
19.  HMGB1 release triggered by the interaction of live retinal cells and uveitogenic T cells is Fas/FasL activation-dependent 
It is not clear how invading autoreactive T cells initiate the pathogenic process inside the diseased organ in T cell-mediated organ-specific autoimmune disease. In experimental autoimmune uveitis (EAU) induced by adoptive transfer of interphotoreceptor retinoid-binding protein (IRBP)-specific T cells in mice, we have previously reported that intraocular inflammation was initiated by infiltrating IRBP-specific T cells that directly interacted with retinal cells and resulted in the active release of high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1), an important member of damage associate molecular patterns (DAMPs). Furthermore, blockade of HMGB1 in our murine model reduced intraocular inflammation via suppression of IRBP-specific T cell functions. These results have demonstrated that HMGB1 is an early and critical mediator of induction of intraocular inflammation. The present study identified the cell surface molecule that triggers HMGB1 secretion.
Retinal explants from Fas-deficient (Faslpr) and wild-type (Wt) C57BL/6 (B6) mice were cultured with activated IRBP 1–20 peptide-specific T cells or with a Fas-activating antibody (Jo2), and then the level of HMGB1 in culture supernatants were detected by ELISA. In addition, released HMGB1 was examined in the eye of Faslpr and Wt mice after IRBP-specific T cell transfer. Uveitis was evaluated in the IRBP-specific T cell transferred Faslpr mice after recombinant HMGB1 was restored within the eye and in the IRBP-specific T cell transferred Wt mice after they were treated with a Fas antagonist (Met12).
In contrast to retinal explants from Wt mice, those from Faslpr mice did not release HMGB1 after exposure to IRBP-specific T cells or to Jo2. The release of HMGB1 by Wt retinal explants was suppressed by Met 12. Moreover, after IRBP-specific T cell injection, Faslpr mice did not release HMGB1 in the eye or develop EAU, but intravitreous injection of HMGB1 resulted in intraocular inflammation. Finally, tEAU in Wt mice was attenuated by local treatment with Met 12. Unlike HMGB1, Fas-induced IL-1 and IL-18 were not essential for tEAU induction.
Our results show that interaction of retinal cells with infiltrating uveitogenic T cells leads to rapid release of HMGB1 via the Fas/FasL inflammatory signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC4579830  PMID: 26394985
Autoimmune disease; Autoreactive T cells; Damage-associated molecular patterns; Fas; HMGB1; Immunoregulation; Uveitis
20.  Activation of OX40 Prolongs and Exacerbates Autoimmune Experimental Uveitis 
This study reveals an important role for OX40-mediated T-cell costimulation in the development of uveitis.
T cells are essential for the development of autoimmune uveitis. Although the costimulatory molecule OX40 promotes T-cell function and expansion, it is unclear whether OX40 is implicated in ocular inflammation. The purpose of this study was to examine the role of OX40 in uveitis.
Experimental autoimmune uveitis (EAU) was induced in B10.RIII mice by subcutaneous injection of interphotoreceptor retinoid-binding protein peptide 161–180 (IRBP161–180). Some mice received an intravenous administration of OX40-activating antibody on days 0 and 4 after IRBP161–180 sensitization or on days 10 and 14 of uveitis onset. The severity of EAU was evaluated by histology at different time points. In addition, ocular inflammatory cytokine expression was determined by real time-PCR, and peripheral activated CD4+CD44+CD62L− T cells and IL-7Rα expression were analyzed by flow cytometry. The activated CD4+CD44+ lymphocytes were rechallenged with IRBP161–180 in vitro to assess their antigen recall response.
The authors demonstrated a marked OX40 expression by infiltrating lymphocytes in enucleated human eyes with end-stage inflammation. In addition, the administration of OX40-activating antibody prolonged and exacerbated the disease course of EAU. Moreover, activation of OX40 not only increased CD4+CD44+CD62L− lymphocyte number, it upregulated IL-7Rα expression in the activated T-cell population. Lastly, these cells exhibited a stronger interferon-γ response to IRBP161–180 restimulation in vitro.
The results reveal a pathogenic role of OX40 in uveitis. Furthermore, the upregulation of IL-7R in CD4+CD44+ lymphocytes suggests that the activation of OX40 promotes the generation or expansion of uveitogenic memory T cells.
PMCID: PMC3208192  PMID: 21948545
21.  ApoE deficiency exacerbates the development and sustainment of a semi-chronic K/BxN serum transfer-induced arthritis model 
The risk for developing cardiovascular disease is greater in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) than in the general population. While patients with RA also have dyslipidemia, the impact of dyslipidemia on the severity of inflammatory arthritis and associated cardiovascular disease is unclear. Currently, there are conflicting results regarding arthritis incidence in apolipoprotein E (ApoE) deficient mice, which spontaneously exhibit both hyperlipidemia and atherosclerosis. Here, we utilize a distinct approach to investigate the contribution of a hyperlipidemic environment on the development of arthritis and atherosclerosis in mice lacking ApoE.
K/BxN serum transfer-induced arthritis (STIA) was assessed in C57BL/6 (control) and ApoE−/− mice using clinical indices and immunohistochemical staining. Ankle synoviums were processed for flow cytometry. Aortic atherosclerosis was quantitated using Sudan IV staining. Serum cholesterol and cytokine levels were determined via enzymatic and luminex bead-based assays, respectively.
ApoE−/− mice developed a sustained and enhanced semi-chronic inflammatory arthritis as compared to control mice. ApoE−/− mice had increased numbers of foamy macrophages, enhanced joint inflammation and amplified collagen deposition versus controls. The presence of arthritis did not exacerbate serum cholesterol levels or significantly augment the level of atherosclerosis in ApoE−/− mice. However, arthritic ApoE−/− mice exhibited a marked elevation of IL-6 as compared to non-arthritic ApoE−/− mice and arthritic C57BL/6 mice.
Loss of ApoE potentiates a semi-chronic inflammatory arthritis. This heightened inflammatory response was associated with an increase in circulating IL-6 and in the number of foamy macrophages within the joint. Moreover, the foamy macrophages within the arthritic joint are reminiscent of those within unstable atherosclerotic lesions and suggest a pathologic role for foamy macrophages in propagating arthritis.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12967-016-0912-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4901400  PMID: 27287704
Arthritis; Cholesterol; Inflammation; Animal models of human disease
22.  Psoriasis and uveitis: a literature review* 
Anais brasileiros de dermatologia  2012;87(6):877-883.
Psoriasis is a systemic, chronic, immunologically mediated disease, with significant genetic and environmental influences. It affects from 1 to 3% of the world population. Recently, the relation between psoriasis and different comorbidities, particularly metabolic syndrome, has become extremely relevant. Uveitis is characterized by a process of intraocular inflammation resulting from various causes. Considering psoriasis and uveitis as immune-mediated diseases, this study aims to evaluate the possible association of psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis with uveitis and its subtypes. Few studies have evaluated the association of uveitis and psoriasis without joint involvement. It seems that psoriasis without arthropathy is not a risk factor for the development of uveitis. Uveitis tends to develop more frequently in patients with arthropathy or pustular psoriasis than in patients with other forms of psoriasis. Ophthalmic examination should be performed periodically in patients with psoriasis and uveitis. If ophthalmopathy is diagnosed, the patient should receive adequate treatment with anti-inflammatory drugs or immunomodulators to prevent vision loss.
PMCID: PMC3699904  PMID: 23197207
Arthritis, psoriatic; Psoriasis; Uveitis
23.  Characterisation of uveitis in patients with psoriatic arthritis 
OBJECTIVE—The purpose of this study is to describe the clinical characteristics of uveitis related to psoriatic arthritis (PsA), and also to compare the uveitis in PsA to the uveitis in spondyloarthropathy (SA).
METHODS—Sixteen patients with uveitis and PsA were evaluated in a tertiary care uveitis clinic. These patients were compared retrospectively to a series of 89 patients with uveitis and SA.
RESULTS—Eight (50%) of the 16 patients with uveitis had strictly peripheral arthritis, while two (12.5%) had axial only, and six (37.5%) had axial and peripheral arthritis. Patients with uveitis and axial disease were more likely to be male (100% v 38%) and HLA-B27 positive (6 of 6 typed positive v 0 of 3 typed positive) when compared with those with uveitis and peripheral arthritis only. Compared with patients with SA, those with PsA were more likely to have insidious onset (19% v 3%), simultaneously bilateral (37.5% v 7%), chronic duration (31% v 6%), or posterior (44% v 17%) uveitis. Complications of uveitis were similar in the SA and PsA groups.
CONCLUSION—Uveitis in patients with PsA was more likely to be insidious in onset, continuous, posterior, and active bilaterally compared with uveitis in patients with SA. Patients with uveitis and axial involvement were more likely to be male and HLA-B27 positive compared with patients with uveitis and peripheral arthritis alone. Patients with seronegative arthritis and uveitis that begins insidiously, lasts longer than six months, is bilateral, or is posterior, should be carefully questioned about the presence of either psoriasis or inflammatory bowel disease.

PMCID: PMC1752985  PMID: 10627431
24.  STAT3 Activates miR-155 in Th17 Cells and Acts in Concert to Promote Experimental Autoimmune Uveitis 
MicroRNA-155 (miR-155) and STAT3 are implicated in uveitis and pathogenic mechanisms of CNS autoimmune diseases. In our study, we used miR-155−/− mice and mice with targeted STAT3 deletion in T cells (CD4-STAT3KO) to investigate roles of miR-155 and STAT3 in the development of experimental autoimmune uveitis (EAU), a mouse model of human uveitis.
We induced EAU in WT, miR-155−/−, or CD4-STAT3KO mice by immunization with interphotoreceptor retinoid-binding protein/complete Freund's adjuvant (IRBP/CFA) or adoptive transfer of T cells. EAU was assessed by funduscopy and histology. RNA expression was analyzed by quantitative PCR (qPCR), while cytokine production was assessed by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS).
We used a combination of genomic and genetic tools to provide the first evidence that STAT3 binds directly to the miR-155 locus and that STAT3 is required for miR-155 expression. Furthermore, STAT3-dependent increase in miR-155 expression in vivo correlated temporally with onset of EAU, and miR-155−/− or CD4-STAT3KO mice did not suffer EAU. CD4+ lymph node cells from IRBP-immunized WT mice transferred EAU to naïve wild-type (WT) and miR-155−/− mice, while miR-155−/− IRBP-specific T cells did not.
Although miR-155 and STAT3 have been implicated in the etiology of multiple sclerosis (MS), uveitis, or rheumatoid arthritis, their exact roles in these diseases are unclear. We show here for the first time to our knowledge that STAT3 regulates miR-155 expression in Th17 cells. We show further that STAT3 and miR-155 form an axis that promotes the expansion of pathogenic Th17 cells that mediate uveitis. Thus, STAT3 and miR-155 may be therapeutic targets for treating uveitis and other Th17-mediated inflammatory disorders.
We show for the first time, to our knowledge, that STAT3 regulates miR-155 expression by Th17 cells and a STAT3/miR-155 axis mediates uveitis by promoting Th17 expansion. Data suggest that therapeutic strategies that combine miR-155 inhibition with blockade of STAT3 signaling may ameliorate Th17-mediated autoimmune disease.
PMCID: PMC3680004  PMID: 23674757
EAU; STAT3; miR-155; uveitis; Th17 cells
25.  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

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