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1.  Ectopic Lymphoid Structures Support Ongoing Production of Class-Switched Autoantibodies in Rheumatoid Synovium 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(1):e1.
Follicular structures resembling germinal centres (GCs) that are characterized by follicular dendritic cell (FDC) networks have long been recognized in chronically inflamed tissues in autoimmune diseases, including the synovium of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, it is debated whether these ectopic structures promote autoimmunity and chronic inflammation driving the production of pathogenic autoantibodies. Anti-citrullinated protein/peptide antibodies (ACPA) are highly specific markers of RA, predict a poor prognosis, and have been suggested to be pathogenic. Therefore, the main study objectives were to determine whether ectopic lymphoid structures in RA synovium: (i) express activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID), the enzyme required for somatic hypermutation and class-switch recombination (CSR) of Ig genes; (ii) support ongoing CSR and ACPA production; and (iii) remain functional in a RA/severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) chimera model devoid of new immune cell influx into the synovium.
Methods and Findings
Using immunohistochemistry (IHC) and quantitative Taqman real-time PCR (QT-PCR) in synovial tissue from 55 patients with RA, we demonstrated that FDC+ structures invariably expressed AID with a distribution resembling secondary lymphoid organs. Further, AID+/CD21+ follicular structures were surrounded by ACPA+/CD138+ plasma cells, as demonstrated by immune reactivity to citrullinated fibrinogen. Moreover, we identified a novel subset of synovial AID+/CD20+ B cells outside GCs resembling interfollicular large B cells. In order to gain direct functional evidence that AID+ structures support CSR and in situ manufacturing of class-switched ACPA, 34 SCID mice were transplanted with RA synovium and humanely killed at 4 wk for harvesting of transplants and sera. Persistent expression of AID and Iγ-Cμ circular transcripts (identifying ongoing IgM-IgG class-switching) was observed in synovial grafts expressing FDCs/CD21L. Furthermore, synovial mRNA levels of AID were closely associated with circulating human IgG ACPA in mouse sera. Finally, the survival and proliferation of functional B cell niches was associated with persistent overexpression of genes regulating ectopic lymphoneogenesis.
Our demonstration that FDC+ follicular units invariably express AID and are surrounded by ACPA-producing plasma cells provides strong evidence that ectopic lymphoid structures in the RA synovium are functional and support autoantibody production. This concept is further confirmed by evidence of sustained AID expression, B cell proliferation, ongoing CSR, and production of human IgG ACPA from GC+ synovial tissue transplanted into SCID mice, independently of new B cell influx from the systemic circulation. These data identify AID as a potential therapeutic target in RA and suggest that survival of functional synovial B cell niches may profoundly influence chronic inflammation, autoimmunity, and response to B cell–depleting therapies.
Costantino Pitzalis and colleagues show that lymphoid structures in synovial tissue of patients with rheumatoid arthritis support production of anti-citrullinated peptide antibodies, which continues following transplantation into SCID mice.
Editors' Summary
More than 1 million people in the United States have rheumatoid arthritis, an “autoimmune” condition that affects the joints. Normally, the immune system provides protection against infection by responding to foreign antigens (molecules that are unique to invading organisms) while ignoring self-antigens present in the body's own tissues. In autoimmune diseases, this ability to discriminate between self and non-self fails for unknown reasons and the immune system begins to attack human tissues. In rheumatoid arthritis, the lining of the joints (the synovium) is attacked, it becomes inflamed and thickened, and chemicals are released that damage all the tissues in the joint. Eventually, the joint may become so scarred that movement is no longer possible. Rheumatoid arthritis usually starts in the small joints in the hands and feet, but larger joints and other tissues (including the heart and blood vessels) can be affected. Its symptoms, which tend to fluctuate, include early morning joint pain, swelling, and stiffness, and feeling generally unwell. Although the disease is not always easy to diagnose, the immune systems of many people with rheumatoid arthritis make “anti-citrullinated protein/peptide antibodies” (ACPA). These “autoantibodies” (which some experts believe can contribute to the joint damage in rheumatoid arthritis) recognize self-proteins that contain the unusual amino acid citrulline, and their detection on blood tests can help make the diagnosis. Although there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, the recently developed biologic drugs, often used together with the more traditional disease-modifying therapies, are able to halt its progression by specifically blocking the chemicals that cause joint damage. Painkillers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can reduce its symptoms, and badly damaged joints can sometimes be surgically replaced.
Why Was This Study Done?
Before scientists can develop a cure for rheumatoid arthritis, they need to know how and why autoantibodies are made that attack the joints in this common and disabling disease. B cells, the immune system cells that make antibodies, mature in structures known as “germinal centers” in the spleen and lymph nodes. In the germinal centers, immature B cells are exposed to antigens and undergo two genetic processes called “somatic hypermutation” and “class-switch recombination” that ensure that each B cell makes an antibody that sticks as tightly as possible to just one antigen. The B cells then multiply and enter the bloodstream where they help to deal with infections. Interestingly, the inflamed synovium of many patients with rheumatoid arthritis contains structures that resemble germinal centers. Could these ectopic (misplaced) lymphoid structures, which are characterized by networks of immune system cells called follicular dendritic cells (FDCs), promote autoimmunity and long-term inflammation by driving the production of autoantibodies within the joint itself? In this study, the researchers investigate this possibility.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers collected synovial tissue from 55 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and used two approaches, called immunohistochemistry and real-time PCR, to investigate whether FDC-containing structures in synovium expressed an enzyme called activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID), which is needed for both somatic hypermutation and class-switch recombination. All the FDC-containing structures that the researchers found in their samples expressed AID. Furthermore, these AID-containing structures were surrounded by mature B cells making ACPAs. To test whether these B cells were derived from AID-expressing cells resident in the synovium rather than ACPA-expressing immune system cells coming into the synovium from elsewhere in the body, the researchers transplanted synovium from patients with rheumatoid arthritis under the skin of a special sort of mouse that largely lacks its own immune system. Four weeks later, the researchers found that the transplanted human lymphoid tissue was still making AID, that the level of AID expression correlated with the amount of human ACPA in the blood of the mice, and that the B cells in the transplant were proliferating.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that the ectopic lymphoid structures present in the synovium of some patients with rheumatoid arthritis are functional and are able to make ACPA. Because ACPA may be responsible for joint damage, the survival of these structures could, therefore, be involved in the development and progression of rheumatoid arthritis. More experiments are needed to confirm this idea, but these findings may explain why drugs that effectively clear B cells from the bloodstream do not always produce a marked clinical improvement in rheumatoid arthritis. Finally, they suggest that AID might provide a new target for the development of drugs to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Rene Toes and Tom Huizinga
The MedlinePlus Encyclopedia has a page on rheumatoid arthritis (in English and Spanish). MedlinePlus provides links to other information on rheumatoid arthritis (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices information service has detailed information on rheumatoid arthritis
The US National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases provides Fast Facts, an easy to read publication for the public, and a more detailed Handbook on rheumatoid arthritis
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an overview on rheumatoid arthritis that includes statistics about this disease and its impact on daily life
PMCID: PMC2621263  PMID: 19143467
2.  Increased concentration of two different advanced glycation end-products detected by enzyme immunoassays with new monoclonal antibodies in sera of patients with rheumatoid arthritis 
Levels of pentosidine (representative of advanced glycation end-products) in sera of patients with rheumatoid arthritis are increased when compared with sera of other diagnoses or healthy controls. These levels have been reported to correlate with clinical indices of rheumatoid arthritis activity and with laboratory markers of inflammation. The purpose of this study was to find out if these findings pertain to other advanced glycation end-products.
We have developed two immunoassays based on new monoclonal antibodies to advanced glycation end-products. Antibody 103-E3 reacts with an unidentified antigen, formed in the reaction of proteins with ribose, while antibody 8-C1 responds to Nε-(carboxyethyl)lysine. We have used these monoclonal antibodies to measure levels of advanced glycation end-products in sera of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, osteoarthritis, and healthy controls. We calculated the correlations between advanced glycation end-product levels in rheumatoid arthritis sera and the Disease Activity Score 28 (DAS28), age, disease duration, CRP, anti-CCP, rheumatoid factor and treatment with corticosteroids, respectively.
Levels of both glycation products were significantly higher in sera of patients with rheumatoid arthritis when compared with sera of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, osteoarthritis, or the healthy controls. Neither the level of Nε-(carboxyethyl)lysine nor the level of the 103-E3 antigen in rheumatoid arthritis sera correlated with the DAS28-scored rheumatoid arthritis activity. The levels of both antigens in rheumatoid arthritis sera did not correlate with age, gender, corticosteroid treatment, or levels of CRP, anti-CCP antibodies, and rheumatoid factor in sera.
We report highly specific increases in the levels of two advanced glycation end-products in sera of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. This increase could be explained neither by rheumatoid arthritis activity nor by inflammation. We propose a working hypothesis that presumes the existence of a link between advanced glycation end-product formation and induction of autoimmunity.
PMCID: PMC2881016  PMID: 20433772
3.  Antigens related to the major internal protein, p27, of a psoriasis associated retrovirus-like particle are expressed in patients with chronic arthritis. 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1985;44(11):761-765.
A rabbit antiserum against the major internal protein, p27, of a psoriasis associated retrovirus-like particle has been applied in an immunofluorescence assay for the detection of antigens cross reacting with p27 in patients with psoriatic arthritis, seronegative rheumatoid arthritis, or ankylosing spondylitis. Antigens reacting with anti-p27 antibodies were present in lymphocytes from blood or synovial fluid from all patients examined. However, the expression was restricted to 0.01-0.1% of the cells. Among the positive p27 cells were cells reacting with markers for T, B, or NK cells. The anti-p27 antibodies also reacted with mononuclear cells in the synovial membrane and with the internal wall of some small or medium sized vessels in sections of synovial biopsy specimens from the patients with chronic arthritis. The reaction with mononuclear synovial membrane cells was restricted to approximately 0.1% of the cells. Blood lymphocytes or synovial sections from healthy persons did not react with the anti-p27 antibodies. The implication of these observations in the pathogenesis of chronic arthritis in man is discussed.
PMCID: PMC1001770  PMID: 3904644
Thirteen sera from children with ulcerative colitis were examined for antibodies reacting with constituents of human colonic tissue by means of immunofluorescent methods. 3 out of 10 sera reacted positively when tested by the direct staining method while 6 out of 13 reacted positively when tested by the indirect method with conjugates of rabbit anti-human gamma globulin. The specificity of the reactions could be confirmed by inhibition tests. 16 sera from healthy children and adults yielded completely negative results. The staining capacity of various sera was correlated to their hemagglutinating titer when they were tested with sheep erythrocytes, coated with phenol-water extract of human colon. Absorption experiments indicated that the stainable antigen was also present in the extracts used for the hemagglutination experiments. In unfixed tissue sections, fluorescent antibodies were adsorbed onto the epithelial cells of the mucosa. Adsorption on epithelial basement membranes could not be demonstrated. Fluorescent H agglutinins, isolated from eel serum, were adsorbed onto the same mucosal structures of human colon (blood group O) as the antibodies in the sera of patients with ulcerative colitis. However, any immunological relationship between H substance and the colonic antigen of ulcerative colitis could be ruled out by cross-inhibition and hemagglutination inhibition experiments. Fluorescent serum from patients with rheumatoid arthritis also stained sections of human colon but the localization of the stainable antigens was different from that visualized with the ulcerative colitis sera. Inhibition experiments indicated that the rheumatoid arthritis serum contained antibodies staining colon antigens different from those reacting with antibodies in the ulcerative colitis sera. Sera from patients with systemic lupus erythematosus or with the nephrotic syndrome, which all hemagglutinated erythrocytes coated with colon extract, did not stain the sections of the colon tissue either because of suboptimal antibody concentration or because of a difference in type or localization of the antigen.
PMCID: PMC2137477  PMID: 13873212
5.  Polymerase chain reaction fails to incriminate exogenous retroviruses HTLV-I and HIV-1 in rheumatological diseases although a minority of sera cross react with retroviral antigens. 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1994;53(11):749-754.
OBJECTIVES--To investigate the presence of antibodies to HTLV and HIV retroviral antigens in the rheumatological diseases rheumatoid arthritis (RA), polymyositis/dermatomyositis (PM/DM), primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS), and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and to use polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to seek these exogenous retroviruses in proviral form in cellular DNA from these patients. METHODS--Thirty patients with active RA, 13 with PM, 14 with pSS and five with SLE were recruited and their sera tested for antibodies to HTLV-I in enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and Western blot analysis. Seropositivity to HIV-1 was also sought. DNA was extracted from peripheral blood lymphocytes, synovial tissue and muscle biopsies and tested by polymerase chain reaction using consensus primers for HTLV-I and HIV-1. RESULTS--In HTLV-I ELISA, nine rheumatological sera (4/30 RA, 3/13 PM/DM and 2/5 SLE patients) were considered positive; 14 from pSS patients and 30 from normal subjects were negative. In a control group which included osteoarthritis, Crohn's disease and bacterial endocarditis patients, only two of 80 proved positive in this system. Validation of these sera by Western blotting generally revealed weak reactivity against a variety of HTLV-I antigens. PCR of genomic DNA derived from patients' peripheral blood mononuclear cells did not reveal the presence of HTLV-I and HIV-1 target sequences. CONCLUSIONS--This study shows that PCR precludes HTLV-I and HIV-1 infection as causative agents in these rheumatological diseases although a minority of patients possess antibodies that are weakly cross-reactive with retroviral antigens.
PMCID: PMC1005456  PMID: 7826136
6.  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
7.  Studies with human leukocyte lysosomes. Evidence for antilysosome antibodies in lupus erythematosus and for the presence of lysosomal antigen in inflammatory diseases. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1975;55(2):256-268.
Human lysosomes were isolated from normal peripheral blood leukoyctes and characterized by electron microscopy, enzyme analysis, and assays for DNA and RNA. Stored sera from 37 unselected patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), including active and inactive, treated and untreated cases, were tested in complement fixation (CF) reactions with these lysosome preparations. 23 SLE sera exhibited positive CR reactions, as did sera from two patients with "lupoid" hepatitis. The seven SLE sera with strongest CF reactivity also demonstrated gel precipitin reactions with lysosomes. Neither CF nor precipitin reactions with lysosomes were observed with normal sera or with sera of patients with drug-induced lupus syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), polymyositis, or autoimmune hemolytic anemia. By several criteria the antilysosome CF and precipitin reactions of SLE sera cound not be attributed to antibody to DNA, RNA, or other intracellular organelles. The lysosomal component reactive with SLE sera in CF assays was sedimentable at high speed and is presumably membrane associated. The CF activity of two representative SLE sera was associated with IgG globulins by Sephadex filtration. A search for lysosomal antigen in SLE and related disorders was also made. By employing rabbit antiserum to human lysosomes in immunodiffusion, a soluble lysosomal component, apparently distinct from the sedimentable (membrane-associated) antigen described above, was identified in serum, synovial fluid, or pleural fluid from patients with SLE, RA, ankylosing spondylitis, and leukemoid reaction. An antigenically identical soluble component reactive with the rabbit antiserum could be released in vitro from intact lysosomes by repeated freeze-thaw cycles..
PMCID: PMC301744  PMID: 1092714
8.  Autoimmunity to citrullinated type II collagen in rheumatoid arthritis 
Modern Rheumatology  2006;16(5):276-281.
The production of autoantibodies to citrullinated type II collagen and the citrullination of type II collagen were analyzed in rheumatoid arthritis. Autoantibodies to citrullinated type II collagen were detected in 78.5% of serum samples from 130 rheumatoid arthritis patients. Autoantibodies to native noncitrullinated type II collagen were detected in 14.6% of serum samples, all of which were positive for anti-citrullinated type II collagen antibodies. Serum samples were also positive for anti-citrullinated type II collagen antibodies in 1 of 31 systemic lupus erythematosus patients and 2 of 55 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. In contrast, sera samples from 24 systemic sclerosis patients, 21 dermatomyositis/polymyositis patients, 21 ankylosing spondylitis patients, and 18 psoriatic arthritis patients were all negative for anti-citrullinated type II collagen antibodies. Anti-citrullinated type II collagen antibodies and fragments of citrullinated type II collagen were found in the synovial fluid obtained from affected knee joints of 15 rheumatoid arthritis patients. Moreover, anti-citrullinated type II collagen antibodies were isolated from the synovium of affected knee joints in 8 rheumatoid arthritis patients using antigen/antibody immunocomplex dissociation buffer but not by using standard buffers. These findings indicate that autoantibodies that react with citrullinated type II collagen are specifically produced and that immunocomplexes composed of fragments of citrullinated type II collagen and autoantibodies are deposited in the inflamed articular synovium in rheumatoid arthritis patients. Assaying for the presence of anti-citrullinated type II collagen antibodies may therefore be useful for diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis, and the deposition of these immunocomplexes in the articular synovium may be involved in pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2780673  PMID: 17039307
Autoantibody; Citrullination; Collagen type II; Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
9.  Lack of Detection of Human Retrovirus-5 Proviral DNA in Synovial Tissue and Blood Specimens From Individuals With Rheumatoid Arthritis or Osteoarthritis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2006;55(1):123-125.
Prior studies have suggested an association of human retrovirus 5 with rheumatoid arthritis. The purpose of this study was to determine if human retrovirus-5 proviral DNA is present in synovial tissue and blood specimens from patients with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, or those without joint disease.
Synovial tissue and whole blood from 75 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, 75 patients with osteoarthritis, and 50 patients without a primary arthritis diagnosis were assayed by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using primers that amplify a 186-bp fragment of human retrovirus-5 proviral DNA.
A total of 200 tissue specimens, 200 mononuclear cells, and 196 of 200 granulocyte specimens tested negative for human retrovirus-5 proviral DNA. No association between human retrovirus 5 and rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis (P = 0.516) was identified. Granulocyte specimens from 4 patients, 2 with rheumatoid arthritis and 2 with osteoarthritis, yielded a low positive human retrovirus-5 proviral DNA signal (83–1,365 copies of human retrovirus-5 proviral DNA/ml blood).
Contrary to prior reports, we did not find an association between human retrovirus 5 and rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis using a real-time PCR assay. Our findings are consistent with the recent finding that human retrovirus 5 is actually rabbit endogenous retrovirus H.
PMCID: PMC1464419  PMID: 16463423
Human retrovirus-5; Rheumatoid arthritis; Osteoarthritis
10.  Immunisation of guinea-pigs with circulating immune complexes from patients with rheumatoid arthritis. 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1984;43(5):749-754.
Sixteen guinea-pigs were immunised with immune complexes isolated from serum of nine patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The resulting antisera were analysed by radioimmunoassays. All guinea-pig sera were extensively absorbed with normal human serum. After this absorption eight guinea-pig sera contained antibodies specific for immune complexes isolated from the sera of three patients. One of these antisera reacted not only with immune complexes (and serum) from the corresponding patient but also with immune complexes (and sera) from other patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The antigen(s) to which the guinea-pig antibodies were directed sedimented as IgM, and they bound to IgG Sepharose. Therefore the guinea-pig sera were absorbed with IgM-rheumatoid factors isolated from the serum of the corresponding patient. After this absorption, the guinea-pig sera had lost their reactivity with immune complexes. We conclude that these antisera did not detect an exogenous antigen in immune complexes from patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The positive reactions found were due to antibodies specific for (idiotypic?) antigenic determinants on IgM-rheumatoid factors.
PMCID: PMC1001521  PMID: 6208856
11.  Circulating and intra-articular immune complexes in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Correlation of 125I-Clq binding activity with clinical and biological features of the disease. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1976;57(5):1308-1319.
The correlation between the incidence and level of immune complexes in serum and synovial fluid and the various clinical and biological manifestations of rheumatoid arthritis has been studied. Immune complexes were quantitated using a sensitive radioimmunoassay, the 125I-Clq binding test, in unheated native sera and synovial fluids from 50 patients with seropositive (RA +) and 45 with seronegative (RA -) rheumatoid arthritis, 17 with other inflammatory arthritis, and 37 with degenerative and post-traumatic joint disease. The following observations were made: (a) when compared to the results from patients with degenerative and post-traumatic joint diseases, the 125I-Clq binding activity (Clq-BA) in synovial fluid was found to be increased (by more than 2 SD) in most of the patients with RA + (80%) and RA - (71%) and in 29% of patients with other inflammatory arthritis; the serum Clq-BA was also frequently increased in both RA + (76%) and RA - (49%) patients, but only exceptionally in patients with other inflammatory arthritis (6%); (b) a significant negative correlation existed between the Clq-BA and the immunochemical C4 level in synovial fluids from patients with RA + and RA -; (c) neither the serum nor the synovial fluid Clq-BA in rheumatoid arthritis significantly correlated with the erythrocyte sedimentation rate, the clinical stage of the disease, or the IgM rheumatoid factor titer; and (d) the serum Clq-BA in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and extra-articular disease manifestations (40 +/- 34% in those with RA +,32 +/- 29% in those with RA -) was significantly increased as compared to the serum Clq-BA in patients with joint disease alone (24 +/- 30% in those with RA +, 10 +/- 13% in those with RA -). Experimental studies were carried out in order to characterize the Clq binding material in rheumatoid arthritis. This material had properties similar to immune complexes: it sedimented in a high molecular weight range on sucrose density gradients (10-30S) and lost the ability to bind Clq after reduction and alkylation, or after acid dissociation at pH 3.8, or after passage through an anti-IgG immunoabsorbant. DNase did not affect the Clq BA. These results support the hypothesis that circulating as well as intra-articular immune complexes may play an important role in some pathogenetic aspects of rheumatoid arthritis. The 125I-Clq binding test may also be of some practical clinical value in detecting patients who have a higher risk of developing vasculitis.
PMCID: PMC436784  PMID: 944196
12.  Antibody-mediated leucocyte cytotoxicity to Chang human liver cells in rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases. 
The incidence of an IgG-antibody which induces lymphocyte cytotoxicity to Chang human liver cells in culture was estimated in the sera of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and in healthy controls. It was found in 4.1% of control subjects and in 31% of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. None of the other patient groups differed from the control group. This may be the first demonstration of an antibody response to an antigen or antigens which is almost entirely confined to patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The possibility that an antigenic similarity exists between the rheumatoid synovial membrane and Chang cells is currently under investigation.
PMCID: PMC1006502  PMID: 1275578
13.  Heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoproteins C1/C2 identified as autoantigens by biochemical and mass spectrometric methods 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(5):407-414.
The antigenic specificity of an unusual antinuclear antibody pattern in three patient sera was identified after separating HeLa-cell nuclear extracts by two-dimensional (2D) gel electrophoresis and localizing the antigens by immunoblotting with patient serum. Protein spots were excised from the 2D gel and their contents were analyzed by matrix-assisted laser desorption-ionization (MALDI) or nanoelectrospray ionization time-of-flight (TOF) tandem mass spectrometry (MS) after in-gel digestion with trypsin. A database search identified the proteins as the C1 and C2 heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoproteins. The clinical spectrum of patients with these autoantibodies includes arthritis, psoriasis, myositis, and scleroderma. None of 59 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, 19 with polymyositis, 33 with scleroderma, and 10 with psoriatic arthritis had similar antibodies. High-resolution protein-separation methods and mass-spectrometric peptide mapping in combination with database searches are powerful tools in the identification of novel autoantigen specificities.
The classification of antinuclear antibodies (ANAs) is important for diagnosis and prognosis and for understanding the molecular pathology of autoimmune disease. Many of the proteins that associate with RNA in the ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complexes of the spliceosome have been found to react with some types of ANA [1], including proteins of the heterogeneous nuclear RNP (hnRNP) complex that associate with newly transcribed pre-mRNA. Autoantibodies to the A2, B1, and B2 proteins of hnRNP found in some patients may be markers of several overlap syndromes [2]. However, ANAs with specificity for these proteins as well as for the D protein also appear to occur in many distinct connective-tissue diseases, although epitope specificities may differ [3]. ANAs with specificity for the C component of hnRNP (consisting of the C1 and C2 proteins) have to our knowledge so far been described in only one case [4]. We here describe the approach taken to unambiguously identify the C1/C2 proteins as ANA targets in the sera of some patients.
To determine the fine specificity of sera containing an unusual speckled ANA-staining pattern using a combination of 2D gel electrophoresis and MS.
Patient sera were screened for ANAs by indirect immunofluorescence microscopy on HEp-2 cells (cultured carcinoma cells). Sera with an unusual, very regular, speckled ANA pattern were tested for reactivity with components of nuclear extracts of HeLa cells that were separated by one-dimensional (1D) or 2D gel electrophoresis or by reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). IgG reactivity was assessed by immunoblotting. Reactive protein spots from 2D separations were excised from the gels and subjected to in-gel digestion with trypsin for subsequent peptide mapping, partial peptide sequencing, and protein identification by MS and tandem MS on a hybrid electrospray ionization/quadrupole/time-of-flight (ESI-Q-TOF) mass spectrometer [5,6,7].
We observed a strong nuclear staining pattern (titer >1280) with the characteristic even-sized coarse speckles and no staining of nucleoli in sera from three patients. On immunoblots of nuclear extracts from HeLa cells, these sera stained two distinct bands, at Mr 42 000 and 41 000. There activity strongly resembled that of the patient originally described by Stanek et al [4]. The antigens were enriched by fractionating the extract using reversed-phase HPLC on a C4 column, and the two reactive spots on 2D separations were excised for identification. The two components appeared to be of approximately the same isoelectric points, although their molecular masses differed by approximately 2000. Peptide-mass mapping was performed by matrix-assisted laser desorption-ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) MS on the tryptic peptide mixture generated by digestion of the two excised proteins. The database search suggested that the two proteins were C1/C2 hnRNPs (Swissprot accession number P07910). The identity of the proteins was further confirmed by tandem MS using an ESI-Q-TOF instrument. One peptide carrying two positive charges (m/z 580.32 Da), corresponding to a peptide mass of 1158.7 Da, was selected as a precursor ion and partially sequenced by collisional fragmentation. The fragmented peptide was found to represent the tryptic fragment VDSLLENLEK, ie amino acids 207-216 (C2 protein numbering). Four other peptides were partially sequenced and all of them matched the human C1/C2 hnRNP sequence. The theoretical masses of C1 and C2 are 32.0 and 33.3 kDa, respectively. The difference between the two sequences is a 13-amino-acid insert in C2 between positions 107 and 108 of C1. The presence of a specific tryptic fragment in the MALDI-TOF peptide-mass map from the higher-molecular-mass spot containing a 13-amino-acid insert that was not present in the lower-molecular-mass spot, further demonstrated that the two components represented the two isoforms of the C class of hnRNPs.
The patient whose case prompted us to investigate the specificities of these antibodies was a 72-year-old man who had arthralgias and oligoarthritis but did not fulfill the criteria for rheumatoid arthritis and did not have dermatological complaints. The reactivity of various patient groups to the C1/C2 hnRNP autoantigens was subsequently tested by immunoblotting of HeLa-cell nuclear extracts. Of 59 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, 19 with polymyositis, 33 with scleroderma, and 10 with psoriatic arthritis, none had IgG antibodies reacting with the two bands. Of sera from 139 consecutive patients who had moderately to strongly positive speckled ANA patterns shown by indirect immunofluorescence on HEp-2 cells, only two reacted with the C1/C2 hnRNP bands in immunoblotting. One of these was from a young woman (22 years old) whose complaints of muscle tenderness were not explained by objective findings or abnormal laboratory test results. The third patient that we identified through ANA screening followed by immunoblotting was a 54-year-old male who was being treated with methotrexate for long-standing polymyositis in addition to psoriasis and possible osteoporosis.
The results confirm the existence of anti-C1/C2 antibodies in some patients with speckled ANAs. The antigens were identified through the use of biochemical methods using high-resolution separation techniques combined with mass-spectrometry peptide mapping and database searches. As a general approach, this is a powerful way to identify new antigens using small amounts of material without the need for conventional protein sequencing. The approach does require, however, that the proteins can be found in databases, that they are not extensively post-translationally modified, that they can be digested enzymatically, and that they can be isolated in appropriately pure form by the separation technique used.
It is not known at present if the C1/C2 antibodies may have pathogenic relevance and/or relate to specific diagnoses or subsets within the group of connective-tissue diseases. It does appear that the reactivity is quite rare among ANA-positive patients, and therefore many patients will have to be examined to determine these issues. The fact that the antibodies to the C1/C2 hnRNPs are revealed by indirect immunofluorescence would indicate that the epitopes are accessible in intact, fixed HEp-2 cells and thus probably reside outside the nucleic-acid-binding domains that would be expected to be covered by RNA.
PMCID: PMC17817  PMID: 11056675
antinuclear antibodies; autoantibodies; heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoproteins C1/C2; mass spectrometry
14.  Antibody to the Rheumatoid Arthritis Nuclear Antigen 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1980;65(5):1238-1242.
Most patients with seropositive rheumatoid arthritis, and a variable but lesser percentage of normal subjects, have precipitating antibodies to a nuclear antigen, rheumatoid arthritis nuclear antigen, present in Epstein-Barr virus-infected human B lymphoblastoid cells. We have used a sensitive indirect immunofluorescence assay for antibody to rheumatoid arthritis nuclear antigen in a study of patients with infectious mononucleosis and healthy control subjects. Of 110 sera from normal, college-age cadets, 58 were from individuals without prior Epstein-Barr virus infection, as indicated by the lack of antibody to viral capsid antigen. All of these also lacked activity to rheumatoid arthritis nuclear antigen. 52 sera were positive for antibody to viral capsid antigen, and antibody to rheumatoid arthritis nuclear antigen was present in 26 (50%) of these. In 67 sequential sera from 11 college-age students with infectious mononucleosis who became positive for antibody to rheumatoid arthritis nuclear antigen, only 2 were positive during the 1 mo. Thereafter the incidence and titers increased progressively through the 1st yr after infection. This time-course resembled that for the development of antibody to Epstein-Barr nuclear antigen, another transformation antigen in Epstein-Barr virus-infected B lymphocytes. The development of positivity for both was much later than that of antibody to the structural viral capsid antigen, which in the current study was always positive by 1 wk. Thus, antibody to rheumatoid arthritis nuclear antigen is present in a large proportion of normal individuals and can now be clearly ascribed, from both in vivo and in vitro studies, to prior infection with Epstein-Barr virus.
PMCID: PMC371458  PMID: 6245108
15.  Elevated Levels of Antibodies to Epstein-Barr Virus Antigens in Sera and Synovial Fluids of Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1981;67(4):1134-1140.
The frequencies and levels of antibodies to Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-specific antigens were determined in paired sera and synovial fluids from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and in sera from patients with other connective tissue diseases; i.e., systemic lupus erythematosus, progressive systemic sclerosis, and osteoarthritis (OA). The specimens were also tested for the presence of antibodies to RA-associated nuclear antigen. Compared to healthy controls, the patients' sera showed increased frequencies of elevated antibody titers (≥320) to Epstein-Barr viral capsid antigen, a correspondingly enhanced (twofold to threefold) geometric mean titer, and an increased frequency of antibodies at elevated titers (≥10), usually to the restricted component and rarely the diffuse component of the early antigen complex. Levels of antibody to the EBV-associated nuclear antigen were within the normal range. Enhancement of antibody titers was more pronounced in seropositive RA patients (i.e., positive for rheumatoid factor) than in those who were not. Enhancement was also found in systemic lupus erythematosus and progressive systemic sclerosis. Antibody to RA-associated nuclear antigen was detected at an increased frequency only in the group of seropositive RA patients (90%), as compared to 8-15% in the other connective tissue diseases and 6-8% in healthy controls. The antibody titers in the synovial fluids equaled or were at most twofold higher or lower than those in the sera. In addition, levels of EBV-specific antibodies were studied serially over a period of 6-10 mo in patients with RA and OA. Parameters of disease activity were determined and compared to antibody levels. EBV-specific antibodies in sera of OA patients remained constant and within normal limits throughout the study. Although EBV-specific antibodies were often elevated in RA patients, they also remained constant, with the exception of three patients, who showed gradual increases in one of the four antibodies, which did not correlate with disease activity.
PMCID: PMC370674  PMID: 6259211
16.  Antikeratin antibodies in serum and synovial fluid show specificity for rheumatoid arthritis in a study of connective tissue diseases. 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1985;44(7):450-454.
Tests for antikeratin antibodies (AKA) were performed on 2152 disease-associated and control sera by indirect immunofluorescence (IF) on rat oesophagus substrate. The incidence of AKA was significantly raised in rheumatoid arthritis (37%) in comparison with systemic sclerosis (8%), psoriasis (7%), ankylosing spondylitis (6%), systemic lupus erythematosus (3%), and normal controls (2%). AKA were detected in synovial fluid obtained from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) (48%) but not from patients with other conditions. Further experiments on AKA-positive sera showed reactivity with stratum corneum of rabbit prepuce and lips. A specific rabbit antihuman keratin antiserum was shown, by IF and inhibition studies, to have a different specificity from that of spontaneous human AKA. AKA were associated with the presence of subcutaneous nodules in RA (p = 0.05), but not with Raynaud's phenomenon, Sjögren's syndrome, or HLA-DR4 positivity. Rheumatoid factor (RF) was not associated with AKA either in RA or in RF-positive disease controls.
PMCID: PMC1001675  PMID: 2411231
In analogy with the two categories of reactants which are used in the serological tests for the unusual category of macroglobulins called rheumatoid factor, two fluorescent reactants have been prepared for the detection of rheumatoid factor in situ in tissue sections: fluorescent antigen-rabbit antibody (immune) complex, in the present study, and fluorescent aggregated human γ-globulin, in previous work. Plasma cells in the synovial membrane and germinal center cells and internodular plasma cells in lymph nodes are the sites of origin of rheumatoid factor in active rheumatoid arthritis, whether occurring in adults or children. Plasma cells and germinal center cells which form rheumatoid factor detectable with fluorescent immune complex are less numerous than those which contain factor demonstrable with fluorescent aggregate. In the same tissues, plasma cells and germinal center cells which contain macroglobulin (19S human γ-globulin) detectable with fluorescent antibody—but not showing the reactivity of rheumatoid factor—are more abundant than those containing rheumatoid factor. While macroglobulin and rheumatoid factor are almost exclusively formed in the cytoplasm, these proteins are also detectable in the nucleus of an occasional plasma cell. Normal and pathological synovial and capsular tissues, lymph nodes, and connective tissues obtained from individuals without rheumatoid arthritis are not stained with fluorescent immune complex or, except for an unusual example of Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia, with fluorescent aggregate. The cellular origin, as well as certain chemical and immunological attributes, of rheumatoid factor suggests an antibody-like nature and function. The observations cited are consistent with the behavior anticipated for cellular rheumatoid factor, were it primarily an antibody direct to an altered human γ-globulin and cross-reacting with rabbit γ-globulin. However, it is also possible that there are two or more cellular rheumatoid factors. Lesion-associated protein precipitates having the composition anticipated for rheumatoid factor-antigen complex are localized in the amyloid depositions in kidney and spleen of an individual who died with amyloidosis secondary to rheumatoid arthritis.
PMCID: PMC2137350  PMID: 13769268
18.  Immunoglobulin phagocytosis by granulocytes from sera and synovial fluids in various rheumatoid and nonrheumatoid diseases. 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1975;34(2):146-155.
(1) The phagocytosis of human IgG, IgM, and C3 by granulocytes from various rheumatoid and nonrheumatoid sera and synovial fluids (SF) was investigated by direct examination of the patient's leucocytes and indirect testing by incubation of normal donor leucocytes with various sera and SF. (2) In rheumatoid arthritis (RA) phagocytosis of IgM, IgG, and C3 was common from sera and SF. There was a strong correlation of IgM and C3 phagocytosis with the occurence of rheumatoid factor. The phagocytosed IgM is probably rheumatoid factor. In SF both the direct and indirect test method yielded equally positive results; in serum the direct test was negative throughout. (3) In systemic lupus erythematosus there was phagocytosis of IgG, IgM and C3 from serum (indirect test), IgM not being correlated with the latex-fixation test and probably of antinuclear antibody nature. Phagocytosis decreased after treatment of the disease. Sera from many other rheumatic disease frequently gave weak IgG phagocytosis, but rarely did IgM or C3. (4) IgG, and sometimes C3, was frequently taken up from IgG myeloma sera (indirect test). IgM and IgG were taken up from Waldenström's macroglobulinaemia sera, independent of IgM concentration. It is possible that an aggregation tendancy of particular paraproteins determines Ig uptake from these sera. (5) IgG was taken up from half of the studied sera of infectious diseases in the indirect test, including two cases with Hodgkin's disease as well. Three sera from patients with untreated trypanosomiasis were positive for IgG as well as for IgM. (6) Normal healthy control sera remained negative, even after prolonged preservation or frequent freezing and thawing: only among very old sera were a few positive observations recorded. Immunoglobulin phagocytosis appears to be a common phenomenon in a number of conditions. It seems probable that soluble immune complexes, or in other cases nonimmune aggregates, may cause phagocytosis.
PMCID: PMC1006363  PMID: 806270
19.  Lymphocytes transformed by Epstein-Barr virus. Induction of nuclear antigen reactive with antibody in rheumatoid arthritis 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  1978;147(4):1018-1027.
Sera from approximately two-thirds of patients with rheumatoid arthritis contain an antibody which is reactive with a nuclear antigen present in human B-lymphocyte tissue culture cells. The immunological reaction can be demonstrated by precipitation and immunofluorescence. Evidence is present that the reactive nuclear antigen is associated with Epstein-Barr (EB) virus-transformed lymphocytes. Normal human peripheral blood lymphocytes did not contain the nuclear antigen reactive with rheumatoid arthritis sera, but after infection with EB virus, they showed increasing amounts of reactive nuclear antigen as the cells were transformed into continuous lines. Several established human and simian lymphocyte cell lines known to carry EB viral genomes were shown to contain rheumatoid arthritis-associated nuclear antigen. Evidence is presented which suggests that the rheumatoid arthritis- associated nuclear antigen is different from the previously described EB nuclear antigen.
PMCID: PMC2184239  PMID: 206643
20.  Lymphocyte antigens in systemic lupus erythematosus: studies with heterologous antisera. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1980;65(2):379-389.
Rabbit antisera were produced against pooled living lymphocytes from 25 patients with active systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Lymphocytes collected at plasmapheresis or venipuncture were frozen in liquid nitrogen and later coated with rabbit antibody to normal human tonsils and normal thymocytes immediately before intravenous immunization of rabbits. Antisera were subsequently extensively absorbed with normal human tonsillar cells, thymocytes, peripheral blood lymphocytes, erythrocytes, and leukocytes from patients with myelogeneous and lymphatic leukemia until residual base-line immunofluorescent staining of normal human lymphocytes using F(ab)2' of whole antisera averaged less than 5%. Absorbed pepsin-digested antisera detected membrane antigens which were markedly increased (mean 32%) on lymphocytes from patients with active SLE (P less than 0.05). Membrane antigens reacting with absorbed, pepsin-digested antisera were present on both T and B cells but, in most instances, predominated on T cells. Control observations using absorbed pepsin-digested antisera to normal human lymphocytes or peripheral blood lymphocytes from patients with rheumatoid arthritis showed no similar specificity. SLE patients treated with moderate or high dose corticosteroids or immunosuppressive agents (cytoxan or azathioprine) appeared to lose lymphocyte antigens detected by these reagents. Control studies with other connective tissue disease patients, miscellaneous hospitalized subjects, or normal controls showed low levels of reactivity (2-5%). SLE lymphocyte membrane antigens uniquely increased during active disease; this may represent neoantigens or alterations associated with the disease itself.
PMCID: PMC371376  PMID: 6153183
21.  Direct activation of neutrophil chemiluminescence by rheumatoid sera and synovial fluid. 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1983;42(2):158-162.
The majority of paired sera and synovial fluids from 21 patients with rheumatoid arthritis produced a rapid chemiluminescent response when incubated with human neutrophils. Synovial fluid gave considerably higher responses than the paired serum specimen. In contrast little or no response was found with paired sera and joint fluid taken from patients with gout, psoriasis, and osteoarthritis and with sera from healthy donors. A similar chemiluminescent response was observed when neutrophils were preincubated with large aggregates of heated human gammaglobulin (HAGG), which were used as a model of immune complexes. Smaller nonreactive aggregates of gammaglobulin became reactive after preincubation with a purified monoclonal rheumatoid factor (mRF) which had a high avidity for aggregated IgG. The addition of this monoclonal rheumatoid factor also caused enhancement of chemiluminescence by rheumatoid sera. Further evidence suggesting that the active material found in these rheumatoid specimens contained complexed immunoglobulin was obtained by indirect immunofluorescence. Neutrophils developed intracellular immunoglobulin inclusions after preincubation in reactive rheumatoid sera but not with nonreactive or normal sera. However, activation of neutrophil chemiluminescence by rheumatoid specimens did not correlate significantly with levels of rheumatoid factor or immune complexes suggesting that the activating complexes were of a particular type. In conclusion we have shown the direct activation of neutrophil chemiluminescence by rheumatoid sera synovial fluid and suggest that the activation is caused by large IgG-containing immune complexes. It is possible that this activation may have important implications in the immunopathogenesis of the rheumatoid inflammatory process.
PMCID: PMC1001091  PMID: 6847260
22.  Association analysis of anti-Epstein-Barr nuclear antigen-1 antibodies, anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies, the shared epitope and smoking status in Brazilian patients with rheumatoid arthritis 
Clinics  2011;66(8):1401-1406.
Epstein-Barr virus exposure appears to be an environmental trigger for rheumatoid arthritis that interacts with other risk factors. Relationships among anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies, the shared epitope, and smoking status have been observed in patients with rheumatoid arthritis from different populations.
To perform an association analysis of anti-Epstein-Barr nuclear antigen-1 antibodies, anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies, the shared epitope, and smoking status in Brazilian patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
In a case-control study, 140 rheumatoid arthritis patients and 143 healthy volunteers who were matched for age, sex, and ethnicity were recruited. Anti-Epstein-Barr nuclear antigen-1 antibodies and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies were examined using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and shared epitope alleles were identified by genotyping. Smoking information was collected from all subjects. A comparative analysis of anti-Epstein-Barr nuclear antigen-1 antibodies, anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies, the shared epitope, and smoking status was performed in the patient group. Logistic regression analysis models were used to analyze the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
Anti-Epstein-Barr nuclear antigen-1 antibodies were not associated with anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies, shared epitope alleles, or smoking status. Anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody positivity was significantly higher in smoking patients with shared epitope alleles (OR = 3.82). In a multivariate logistic regression analysis using stepwise selection, only anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies were found to be independently associated with rheumatoid arthritis (OR = 247.9).
Anti-Epstein-Barr nuclear antigen-1 antibodies did not increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis and were not associated with the rheumatoid arthritis risk factors studied. Smoking and shared epitope alleles were correlated with anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide-antibody-positive rheumatoid arthritis. Of the risk factors, only anti-cyclic citrullinated peptides antibodies were independently associated with rheumatoid arthritis susceptibility.
PMCID: PMC3161219  PMID: 21915491
Rheumatoid arthritis; Risk factors; Epstein-Barr virus; Epstein-Barr virus nuclear antigens; Brazilians
23.  Immune complexes in sera and synovial fluids of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Radioimmunoassay with monocylonal rheumatoid factor. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1975;56(2):458-466.
Evidence for the presence of immune complexes in blood, synovial fluid, and tisues of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) includes low complement levels in blood and effusions, deposition of immunoreactants in tissues and vessel walls, precipitate formation after addition of monoclonal rheumatoid factor (mRF) to serum or synovial fluid. To quantitate immune complex-like material in RA patients, we developed a radioimmunoassay based on inhibition by test samples of the interaction of (125I)aggregated IgG (agg IgG) and mRF coupled to cellulose. This method could measure immune complexes of human antibody with hemocyanine prepared in vitro. The assay was not influenced by presence of polyclonal RF in test samples, nor by freezing and thawing. Normal levels of immune complex-like material in serum were less than 25 mug agg IgG EQ/ML. 12 of 51 RA sera examined (26%) contained more than 25 mug/ml. The presence of this material in RA sera was found to correlate with severity of disease, as measured by anatomical stage and functional class. There was an inverse correlation of the material with serum C4 level. Rheumatoid synovial fluids generally contained higher levels than serum, and five of 23 contained very much higher levels. The frequency of elevated levels of immune complex-like material in sera of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (2 of 29) and with miscellaneous vasculitides (2 of 21 was much lower than in RA, suggesting that mRF exhibits a specificity for only certain kinds of immune complexes. The reason for this apparent specificity may explain such distinctive features of RA as the high frequency of polyclonal RF, the lack of immune complex nephritis, and the generally normal levels of serum complement.
PMCID: PMC436606  PMID: 125289
24.  Antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity in selected autoimmune diseases. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1976;58(1):173-179.
Antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity mediated by peripheral blood lymphocytes was studied in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, polyarteritis nodosa. Sjogren's syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis. The target cells were chicken erythrocytes coated with rabbit anti-chicken erythrocyte antibody. Antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxic activity was normal in Sjogren's syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis but significantly decreased (P is less than 0.001) in active systemic lupus erythematosus and in two patients with polyarteritis nodosa. A partial regeneration of antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxic activity was obtained by treatment with pronase and DNase followed by overnight incubation. Sera from patients with systemic lupus erythematosus inhibited antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxic activity of normal lymphocytes. The inhibitory activity was studied by specific immunoadsorption and sucrose density geadient ultracentrifugation. Removal of IgG but not IgM greatly reduced inhibition. Inhibitory factors were present in 7S and heavier fractions containing IgG. Five systemic lupus erythematosus patients were studied serially to determine if improvement in clinical status could be correlated with a decrease in serum inhibitory factors as studied by inhibition of normal antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity. Indeed, a greater serum inhibitory capacity was found in each patient during periods of greater disease activity.
PMCID: PMC333168  PMID: 6490
25.  The effects of 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 on matrix metalloproteinase and prostaglandin E2 production by cells of the rheumatoid lesion 
Arthritis Research  1999;1(1):63-70.
The biologically active metabolite of vitamin D3, 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1α,25(OH)2D3], acts through vitamin D receptors, which were found in rheumatoid tissues in the present study. IL-1β-activated rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts and human articular chondrocytes were shown to respond differently to exposure to 1α,25(OH)2D3, which has different effects on the regulatory pathways of specific matrix metalloproteinases and prostaglandin E2.
1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1α,25(OH)2D3], the biologically active metabolite of vitamin D3, acts through an intracellular vitamin D receptor (VDR) and has several immunostimulatory effects. Animal studies have shown that production of some matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) may be upregulated in rat chondrocytes by administration of 1α,25(OH)2D3; and cell cultures have suggested that 1α,25(OH)2D3 may affect chondrocytic function. Discoordinate regulation by vitamin D of MMP-1 and MMP-9 in human mononuclear phagocytes has also been reported. These data suggest that vitamin D may regulate MMP expression in tissues where VDRs are expressed. Production of 1α,25(OH)2D3 within synovial fluids of arthritic joints has been shown and VDRs have been found in rheumatoid synovial tissues and at sites of cartilage erosion. The physiological function of 1α,25(OH)2D3 at these sites remains obscure. MMPs play a major role in cartilage breakdown in the rheumatoid joint and are produced locally by several cell types under strict control by regulatory factors. As 1α,25(OH)2D3 modulates the production of specific MMPs and is produced within the rheumatoid joint, the present study investigates its effects on MMP and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) production in two cell types known to express chondrolytic enzymes.
To investigate VDR expression in rheumatoid tissues and to examine the effects of 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 on cultured rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts (RSFs) and human articular chondrocytes (HACs) with respect to MMP and PGE2 production.
Rheumatoid synovial tissues were obtained from arthroplasty procedures on patients with late-stage rheumatoid arthritis; normal articular cartilage was obtained from lower limb amputations. Samples were embedded in paraffin, and examined for presence of VDRs by immunolocalisation using a biotinylated antibody and alkaline-phosphatase-conjugated avidin-biotin complex system. Cultured synovial fibroblasts and chondrocytes were treated with either 1α,25(OH)2D3, or interleukin (IL)-1β or both. Conditioned medium was assayed for MMP and PGE2 by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and the results were normalised relative to control values.
The rheumatoid synovial tissue specimens (n = 18) immunostained for VDRs showed positive staining but at variable distributions and in no observable pattern. VDR-positive cells were also observed in association with some cartilage-pannus junctions (the rheumatoid lesion). MMP production by RSFs in monolayer culture was not affected by treatment with 1α,25(OH)2D3 alone, but when added simultaneously with IL-1β the stimulation by IL-1β was reduced from expected levels by up to 50%. In contrast, 1α,25(OH)2D3 had a slight stimulatory effect on basal production of MMPs 1 and 3 by monolayer cultures of HACs, but stimulation of MMP-1 by IL-1β was not affected by the simultaneous addition of 1α,25(OH)2D3 whilst MMP-3 production was enhanced (Table 1). The production of PGE2 by RSFs was unaffected by 1α,25(OH)2D3 addition, but when added concomitantly with IL-1β the expected IL-1 β-stimulated increase was reduced to almost basal levels. In contrast, IL-1β stimulation of PGE2 in HACs was not affected by the simultaneous addition of 1α,25(OH)2D3 (Table 2). Pretreatment of RSFs with 1α,25(OH)2D3 for 1 h made no significant difference to IL-1β-induced stimulation of PGE2, but incubation for 16 h suppressed the expected increase in PGE2 to control values. This effect was also noted when 1α,25(OH)2D3 was removed after the 16h and the IL-1 added alone. Thus it appears that 1α,25(OH)2D3 does not interfere with the IL-1β receptor, but reduces the capacity of RSFs to elaborate PGE2 after IL-1β induction.
Cells within the rheumatoid lesion which expressed VDR were fibroblasts, macrophages, lymphocytes and endothelial cells. These cells are thought to be involved in the degradative processes associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), thus providing evidence of a functional role of 1α,25(OH)2D3 in RA. MMPs may play important roles in the chondrolytic processes of the rheumatoid lesion and are known to be produced by both fibroblasts and chondrocytes. The 1α,25(OH)2D3 had little effect on basal MMP production by RSFs, although more pronounced differences were noted when IL-1β-stimulated cells were treated with 1α,25(OH)2D3, with the RSF and HAC showing quite disparate responses. These opposite effects may be relevant to the processes of joint destruction, especially cartilage loss, as the ability of 1α,25(OH)2D3 to potentiate MMP-1 and MMP-3 expression by 'activated' chondrocytes might facilitate intrinsic cartilage chondrolysis in vivo. By contrast, the MMP-suppressive effects observed for 1α,25(OH)2D3 treatment of 'activated' synovial fibroblasts might reduce extrinsic chondrolysis and also matrix degradation within the synovial tissue. Prostaglandins have a role in the immune response and inflammatory processes associated with RA. The 1α,25(OH)2D3 had little effect on basal PGE2 production by RSF, but the enhanced PGE2 production observed following IL-1β stimulation of these cells was markedly suppressed by the concomitant addition of 1α,25(OH)2D3. As with MMP production, there are disparate effects of 1α,25(OH)2D3 on IL-1β stimulated PGE2 production by the two cell types; 1α,25(OH)2D3 added concomitantly with IL-1β had no effect on PGE2 production by HACs. In summary, the presence of VDRs in the rheumatoid lesion demonstrates that 1α,25(OH)2D3 may have a functional role in the joint disease process. 1α,25(OH)2D3 does not appear to directly affect MMP or PGE2 production but does modulate cytokine-induced production.
Comparative effects of 1 α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1 α,25D3) on interleukin (IL)-1-stimulated matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-1 and MMP-3 production by rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts and human articular chondrocytes in vivo
Data given are normalized relative to control values and are expressed ± SEM for three cultures of each cell type.
Comparative effects of 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1α,25D3) on Interleukin (IL)-1-stimulated prostaglandin E2 production by rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts and human articular chondrocyte in vivo
Data given are normalized relative to control values and are expressed ± SEM for three cultures of each cell type.
PMCID: PMC17774  PMID: 11056661
1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3; matrix metalloproteinase; prostaglandin E2; rheumatoid arthritis

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