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1.  Anti-inflammatory activity and neutrophil reductions mediated by the JAK1/JAK3 inhibitor, CP-690,550, in rat adjuvant-induced arthritis 
The Janus kinase (JAK) family of tyrosine kinases includes JAK1, JAK2, JAK3 and TYK2, and is required for signaling through Type I and Type II cytokine receptors. CP-690,550 is a potent and selective JAK inhibitor currently in clinical trials for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other autoimmune disease indications. In RA trials, dose-dependent decreases in neutrophil counts (PBNC) were observed with CP-690,550 treatment. These studies were undertaken to better understand the relationship between JAK selectivity and PBNC decreases observed with CP-690,550 treatment.
Potency and selectivity of CP-690,550 for mouse, rat and human JAKs was evaluated in a panel of in vitro assays. The effect of CP-690,550 on granulopoiesis from progenitor cells was also assessed in vitro using colony forming assays. In vivo the potency of orally administered CP-690,550 on arthritis (paw edema), plasma cytokines, PBNC and bone marrow differentials were evaluated in the rat adjuvant-induced arthritis (AIA) model.
CP-690,550 potently inhibited signaling through JAK1 and JAK3 with 5-100 fold selectivity over JAK2 in cellular assays, despite inhibiting all four JAK isoforms with nM potency in in vitro enzyme assays. Dose-dependent inhibition of paw edema was observed in vivo with CP-690,550 treatment. Plasma cytokines (IL-6 and IL-17), PBNC, and bone marrow myeloid progenitor cells were elevated in the context of AIA disease. At efficacious exposures, CP-690,550 returned all of these parameters to pre-disease levels. The plasma concentration of CP-690,550 at efficacious doses was above the in vitro whole blood IC50 of JAK1 and JAK3 inhibition, but not that of JAK2.
Results from this investigation suggest that CP-690,550 is a potent inhibitor of JAK1 and JAK3 with potentially reduced cellular potency for JAK2. In rat AIA, as in the case of human RA, PBNC were decreased at efficacious exposures of CP-690,550. Inflammatory end points were similarly reduced, as judged by attenuation of paw edema and cytokines IL-6 and IL-17. Plasma concentration at these exposures was consistent with inhibition of JAK1 and JAK3 but not JAK2. Decreases in PBNC following CP-690,550 treatment may thus be related to attenuation of inflammation and are likely not due to suppression of granulopoiesis through JAK2 inhibition.
PMCID: PMC2928212  PMID: 20701804
2.  Modulation of Innate and Adaptive Immune Responses by Tofacitinib (CP-690,550) 
Inhibitors of the JAK family of non-receptor tyrosine kinases have demonstrated clinical efficacy in rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory disorders; however, the precise mechanisms by which JAK inhibition improves inflammatory immune responses remain unclear. Here we examined the mode of action of tofacitinib (CP-690,550) on JAK/STAT signaling pathways involved in adaptive and innate immune responses. To determine the extent of inhibition of specific JAK/STAT-dependent pathways, we analyzed cytokine stimulation of mouse and human T cells in vitro. We also investigated the consequences of CP-690,550 treatment on Th cell differentiation of naïve murine CD4+ T cells. CP-690,550 inhibited IL-4-dependent Th2 cell differentiation, and interestingly also interfered with Th17 cell differentiation. Expression of IL-23 receptor and of the Th17 cytokines IL-17A, IL-17F and IL-22 were blocked when naïve Th cells were stimulated with IL-6 and IL-23. In contrast, IL-17A-production was enhanced when Th17 cells were differentiated in the presence of TGF-β. Moreover, CP-690,550 also prevented activation of STAT1, induction of T-bet and subsequent generation of Th1 cells. In a model of established arthritis, CP-690,550 rapidly improved disease by inhibiting production of inflammatory mediators and suppressing STAT1-dependent genes in joint tissue. Furthermore, efficacy in this disease model correlated with inhibition of both JAK1 and JAK3 signaling pathways. CP-690,550 also modulated innate responses to LPS in vivo through a mechanism likely involving inhibition of STAT1 signaling. Thus, CP-690,550 may improve autoimmune diseases and prevent transplant rejection by suppressing the differentiation of pathogenic Th1 and Th17 cells, as well as innate immune cell signaling.
PMCID: PMC3108067  PMID: 21383241
3.  CP690,550 inhibits oncostatin M-induced JAK/STAT signaling pathway in rheumatoid synoviocytes 
Interleukin (IL)-6-type cytokines exert their effects through activation of the Janus kinase/signal transducers and activators of transcription (JAK/STAT) signaling cascade. The JAK/STAT pathways play an important role in rheumatoid arthritis, since JAK inhibitors have exhibited dramatic effects on rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in clinical trials. In this study, we investigated the molecular effects of a small molecule JAK inhibitor, CP690,550 on the JAK/STAT signaling pathways and examined the role of JAK kinases in rheumatoid synovitis.
Fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) were isolated from RA patients and stimulated with recombinant oncostatin M (OSM). The cellular supernatants were analyzed using cytokine protein chips. IL-6 mRNA and protein expression were analyzed by real-time PCR method and ELISA, respectively. Protein phosphorylation of rheumatoid synoviocytes was assessed by Western blot using phospho-specific antibodies.
OSM was found to be a potent inducer of IL-6 in FLS. OSM stimulation elicited rapid phosphorylation of STATs suggesting activation of the JAK/STAT pathway in FLS. CP690,550 pretreatment completely abrogated the OSM-induced production of IL-6, as well as OSM-induced JAK/STAT, and activation of mitogen-activated kinases (MAPKs) in FLS.
These findings suggest that IL-6-type cytokines contribute to rheumatoid synovitis through activation of the JAK/STAT pathway in rheumatoid synoviocytes. Inhibition of these pro-inflammatory signaling pathways by CP690,550 could be important in the treatment of RA.
PMCID: PMC3218881  PMID: 21548952
4.  Regulation of Inflammatory Responses in Tumor Necrosis Factor - Activated and Rheumatoid Arthritis Synovial Macrophages by Janus Kinase Inhibitors 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(12):3856-3866.
Inhibitors of the Janus kinases (JAKs) have been developed as anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive agents and are currently undergoing testing in clinical trials. The JAK inhibitors CP-690,550 (tofacitinib) and INCB018424 (ruxolitinib) have demonstrated clinical efficacy in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, the mechanisms that mediate the beneficial actions of these compounds are not known. In this study, we examined the effects of both JAK inhibitors on inflammatory and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) responses in human macrophages (MΦs).
In vitro studies were performed with peripheral blood MΦs from healthy donors treated with TNF and synovial fluid MΦs from patients with RA. Levels of activated signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) proteins and other transcription factors were detected by Western blot, and gene expression was measured by real-time polymerase chain reaction. In vivo effects of JAK inhibitors were evaluated in the K/BxN serum-transfer model of arthritis.
JAK inhibitors suppressed activation and expression of STAT1 and downstream inflammatory target genes in TNF-stimulated and RA synovial macrophages. In addition, JAK inhibitors decreased nuclear localization of NF-κB subunits in TNF-stimulated and RA synovial macrophages. CP-690,550 significantly decreased IL6 expression in synovial MΦs. JAK inhibitors augmented nuclear levels of NFATc1 and cJun, followed by increased formation of osteoclast-like cells. CP-690,550 strongly suppressed K/BxN arthritis that is dependent on macrophages but not on lymphocytes.
Our findings demonstrate that JAK inhibitors suppress macrophage activation and attenuate TNF responses, and suggest that suppression of cytokine/chemokine production and innate immunity contributes to the therapeutic efficacy of JAK inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3510320  PMID: 22941906
macrophages; TNF; STAT1; rheumatoid arthritis; JAK inhibitors
5.  Inhibitory effects of the JAK inhibitor CP690,550 on human CD4+ T lymphocyte cytokine production 
BMC Immunology  2011;12:51.
The new JAK3 inhibitor, CP690,550, has shown efficacy in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The present study was undertaken to assess the effects of CP690,550 on cytokine production and cellular signaling in human CD4+ T cells.
CD4+ T cells produced IL-2, IL-4, IL-17, IL-22 and IFN-γ in following stimulation with a CD3 antibody. At the optimal concentration, CP690,550 almost completely inhibited the production of IL-4, IL-17, IL-22 and IFN-γ from these activated CD4+ T cells, but only had marginal effects on IL-2 production. Moreover CP690,550 inhibited anti-CD3-induced phosphorylation of STAT1, STAT3, STAT4, STAT5, and STAT6, but not the TCR-associated phosphorylation of ZAP-70.
Therefore, CP690,550-mediated modification of the JAK/STAT pathway may be a new immunosuppressive strategy in the treatment of autoimmune diseases.
PMCID: PMC3179939  PMID: 21884580
CP690; 550; cytokines; Janus kinase; signal transducers and activators of transcription; T lymphocytes
6.  CP-690550 Treatment Ameliorates Established Disease and Provides Long-Term Therapeutic Effects in an SKG Arthritis Model 
Immune Network  2013;13(6):257-263.
Although pathogenesis of human rheumatoid arthritis (RA) remains unclear, arthritogenic T cells and downstream signaling mediators have been shown to play critical roles. An increasing numbers of therapeutic options have been added for the effective control of RA. Nevertheless, there is still a category of patients that fails treatment and suffers from progressive disease. The recently developed immunosuppressant CP-690550, a small molecule JAK kinase inhibitor, has been implicated as an important candidate treatment modality for autoimmune arthritis. In this study, we evaluated the therapeutic effect of CP-690550 on established arthritis using an SKG arthritis model, a pathophysiologically relevant animal model for human RA. CP-690550 treatment revealed remarkable long-term suppressive effects on SKG arthritis when administered to the well-advanced disease (clinical score 3.5~4.0). The treatment effect lasted at least 3 more weeks after cessation of drug infusion, and suppression of disease was correlated with the reduced pro-inflammatory cytokines, including IL-17, IFN-γ, and IL-6 and increased level of immunoregulatory IL-10.
PMCID: PMC3875784  PMID: 24385944
Rheumatoid arthritis; CP-690550; SKG mice; IL-17; IL-10
7.  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
8.  Protection against cartilage and bone destruction by systemic interleukin-4 treatment in established murine type II collagen-induced arthritis 
Arthritis Research  1999;1(1):81-91.
Destruction of cartilage and bone are hallmarks of human rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and controlling these erosive processes is the most challenging objective in the treatment of RA. Systemic interleukin-4 treatment of established murine collagen-induced arthritis suppressed disease activity and protected against cartilage and bone destruction. Reduced cartilage pathology was confirmed by both decreased serum cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP) and histological examination. In addition, radiological analysis revealed that bone destruction was also partially prevented. Improved suppression of joint swelling was achieved when interleukin-4 treatment was combined with low-dose prednisolone treatment. Interestingly, synergistic reduction of both serum COMP and inflammatory parameters was noted when low-dose interleukin-4 was combined with prednisolone. Systemic treatment with interleukin-4 appeared to be a protective therapy for cartilage and bone in arthritis, and in combination with prednisolone at low dosages may offer an alternative therapy in RA.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is associated with an increased production of a range of cytokines including tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α and interleukin (IL)-1, which display potent proinflammatory actions that are thought to contribute to the pathogenesis of the disease. Although TNF-α seems to be the major cytokine in the inflammatory process, IL-1 is the key mediator with regard to cartilage and bone destruction. Apart from direct blockade of IL-1/TNF, regulation can be exerted at the level of modulatory cytokines such as IL-4 and IL-10. IL-4 is a pleiotropic T-cell derived cytokine that can exert either suppressive or stimulatory effects on different cell types, and was originally identified as a B-cell growth factor and regulator of humoral immune pathways. IL-4 is produced by activated CD4+ T cells and it promotes the maturation of Th2 cells. IL-4 stimulates proliferation, differentiation and activation of several cell types, including fibroblasts, endothelial cells and epithelial cells. IL-4 is also known to be a potent anti-inflammatory cytokine that acts by inhibiting the synthesis of proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-1, TNF-α, IL-6, IL-8 and IL-12 by macrophages and monocytes. Moreover, IL-4 stimulates the synthesis of several cytokine inhibitors such as interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra), soluble IL-1-receptor type II and TNF receptors IL-4 suppresses metalloproteinase production and stimulates tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 production in human mononuclear phagocytes and cartilage explants, indicating a protective effect of IL-4 towards extracellular matrix degradation. Furthermore, IL-4 inhibits both osteoclast activity and survival, and thereby blocks bone resorption in vitro. Of great importance is that IL-4 could not be detected in synovial fluid or in tissues. This absence of IL-4 in the joint probably contributes to the disturbance in the Th1/Th2 balance in chronic RA.
Collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) is a widely used model of arthritis that displays several features of human RA. Recently it was demonstrated that the onset of CIA is under stringent control of IL-4 and IL-10. Furthermore, it was demonstrated that exposure to IL-4 during the immunization stage reduced onset and severity of CIA. However, after cessation of IL-4 treatment disease expression increased to control values.
Because it was reported that IL-4 suppresses several proinflammatory cytokines and matrix degrading enzymes and upregulates inhibitors of both cytokines and catabolic enzymes, we investigated the tissue protective effect of systemic IL-4 treatment using established murine CIA as a model. Potential synergy of low dosages of anti-inflammatory glucocorticosteroids and IL-4 was also evaluated.
DBA-1J/Bom mice were immunized with bovine type II collagen and boosted at day 21. Mice with established CIA were selected at day 28 after immunization and treated for days with IL-4, prednisolone, or combinations of prednisolone and IL-4. Arthritis score was monitored visually. Joint pathology was evaluated by histology, radiology and serum cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP). In addition, serum levels of IL-1Ra and anticollagen antibodies were determined.
Treatment of established CIA with IL-4 (1 μg/day) resulted in suppression of disease activity as depicted in Figure 1. Of great interest is that, although 1 μg/day IL-4 had only a moderate effect on the inflammatory component of the disease activity, it strongly reduced cartilage pathology, as determined by histological examination (Fig. 1). Moreover, serum COMP levels were significantly reduced, confirming decreased cartilage involvement. In addition, both histological and radiological analysis showed that bone destruction was prevented (Fig. 1). Systemic IL-4 administration increased serum IL-1Ra levels and reduced anticollagen type II antibody levels. Treatment with low-dose IL-4 (0.1 μg/day) was ineffective in suppressing disease score, serum COMP or joint destruction. Synergistic suppression of both arthritis severity and COMP levels was noted when low-dose IL-4 was combined with prednisolone (0.05 mg/kg/day), however, which in itself was not effective.
In the present study, we demonstrate that systemic IL-4 treatment ameliorates disease progression of established CIA. Although clinical disease progression was only arrested and not reversed, clear protection against cartilage and bone destruction was noted. This is in accord with findings in both human RA and animal models of RA that show that inflammation and tissue destruction sometimes are uncoupled processes. Of great importance is that, although inflammation was still present, strong reduction in serum COMP was found after exposure to IL-4. This indicated that serum COMP levels reflected cartilage damage, although a limited contribution of the inflamed synovium cannot be excluded.
Increased serum IL-1Ra level (twofold) was found after systemic treatment with IL-4, but it is not likely that this could explain the suppression of CIA. We and others have reported that high dosages of IL-1Ra are needed for marked suppression of CIA. As reported previously, lower dosages of IL-4 did not reduce clinical disease severity of established CIA. Of importance is that combined treatment of low dosages of IL-4 and IL-10 appeared to have more potent anti-inflammatory effects, and markedly protected against cartilage destruction. Improved anti-inflammatory effect was achieved with IL-4/prednisolone treatment. In addition, synergistic effects were found for the reduction of cartilage and bone destruction. This indicates that systemic IL-4/prednisolone treatment may provide a cartilage and bone protective therapy for human RA.
Effects in mice of treatment with interleukin-4 or control on disease activity, cartilage damage and bone destruction. Mice were treated intraperitoneally for 7 days with either vehicle (control) or 1 μg/day interleukin-4 (IL-4). CIA, collagen-induced arthritis. *P < 0.05, versus control, by Mann-Whitney U test.
PMCID: PMC17779  PMID: 11056663
bone destruction; cartilage oligomeric matrix protein levels; collagen-induced arthritis; interleukin-4; prednisolone
9.  A highly selective, orally active inhibitor of Janus kinase 2, CEP-33779, ablates disease in two mouse models of rheumatoid arthritis 
Janus kinase 2 (JAK2) is involved in the downstream activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) and STAT5 and is responsible for transducing signals for several proinflammatory cytokines involved in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), including interleukin (IL)-6, interferon γ (IFNγ) and IL-12. In this paper, we describe the efficacy profile of CEP-33779, a highly selective, orally active, small-molecule inhibitor of JAK2 evaluated in two mouse models of RA.
Collagen antibody-induced arthritis (CAIA) and collagen type II (CII)-induced arthritis (CIA) were established before the oral administration of a small-molecule JAK2 inhibitor, CEP-33779, twice daily at 10 mg/kg, 30 mg/kg, 55 mg/kg or 100 mg/kg over a period of 4 to 8 weeks.
Pharmacodynamic inhibition of JAK2 reduced mean paw edema and clinical scores in both CIA and CAIA models of arthritis. Reduction in paw cytokines (IL-12, IFNγ and tumor necrosis factor α) and serum cytokines (IL-12 and IL-2) correlated with reduced spleen CII-specific T helper 1 cell frequencies as measured by ex vivo IFNγ enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot assay. Both models demonstrated histological evidence of disease amelioration upon treatment (for example, reduced matrix erosion, subchondral osteolysis, pannus formation and synovial inflammation) and reduced paw phosphorylated STAT3 levels. No changes in body weight or serum anti-CII autoantibody titers were observed in either RA model.
This study demonstrates the utility of using a potent and highly selective, orally bioavailable JAK2 inhibitor for the treatment of RA. Using a selective inhibitor of JAK2 rather than pan-JAK inhibitors avoids the potential complication of immunosuppression while targeting critical signaling pathways involved in autoimmune disease progression.
PMCID: PMC3132063  PMID: 21510883
10.  Development of a high-throughput cell-based reporter assay for screening JAK3 inhibitors 
Journal of biomolecular screening  2011;16(4):443-449.
JAK3 has become an ideal target for the therapeutic treatment of immune-related diseases, as well as for the prevention of organ allograft rejection. A number of JAK3 inhibitors have been identified by in vitro biochemical enzymatic assays, but the majority display significant off-target effects on JAK2. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop new experimental approaches to identify compounds that specifically inhibit JAK3. Here, we showed that in 32D/IL-2Rβ cells, STAT5 becomes phosphorylated by IL-3/JAK2- or IL-2/JAK3-dependent pathway. Importantly, the selective JAK3 inhibitor CP-690,550 blocked the phosphorylation as well as the nuclear translocation of STAT5 following treatment of cells with IL-2, but not with IL-3. In an attempt to use the cells for large-scale chemical screens to identify JAK3 inhibitors, we established a cell line 32D/IL-2Rβ/6×STAT5 stably expressing a well-characterized STAT5 reporter gene. Treatment of this cell line with IL-2 or IL-3 dramatically increased the reporter activity in a high-throughput format. As expected, JAK3 inhibitors, CP-690,550 and JAK3 inhibitor VI, selectively inhibited the activity of the 6×STAT5 reporter following treatment with IL-2. By contrast, the pan-JAK inhibitor Curcumin non-selectively inhibited the activity of this reporter following treatment with either IL-2 or IL-3. Thus, this study indicates that our STAT5 reporter cell line can be used as an efficacious cellular model for chemical screens to identify low-molecular-weight inhibitors specific for JAK3.
PMCID: PMC3237679  PMID: 21393628
Assay development; Cytokine; JAK3 inhibitors; STAT5 reporter; high-throughput chemical screening
11.  JAK3 inhibition: what potential for the future? 
Transplantation Research  2013;2(Suppl 1):S6.
JAK3 inhibition with the CP-690,550 compound has an immunosuppressive potency in murine models, nonhuman primates and humans. This drug blocks STAT5 activation in most T-cell subpopulations but less effectively in T-regulator cells. In low to moderate risk human kidney transplant recipients, combined with mycophenolate mofetil, steroids and an induction with basiliximab, CP-690,550 proved as effective as calcineurin inhibitors with regard to prevention of acute rejection but better than calcineurin inhibitors with regard to preservation of kidney function and histology. However, at the same time, an increased incidence of overimmunosuppression consequences (cytomegalovirus, BK virus and lymphoproliferation) was observed and led to discontinuation of this specific drug development in kidney transplantation.
PMCID: PMC3834527  PMID: 24565406
kidney transplantation; JAK3; tofacitinib
12.  Enhanced expression of genes involved in coagulation and fibrinolysis in murine arthritis 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(6):504-512.
We have analyzed the pattern of procoagulant and fibrinolytic gene expression in affected joints during the course of arthritis in two murine models. In both models, we found an increased expression of tissue factor, tissue factor pathway inhibitor, urokinase plasminogen activator, and plasminogen activator inhibitor 1, as well as thrombin receptor. The observed pattern of gene expression tended to favor procoagulant activity, and this pattern was confirmed by functional assays. These alterations would account for persistence of fibrin within the inflamed joint, as is seen in rheumatoid arthritis.
Accumulation of fibrin in the joints remains one of the most striking histopathological features of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Recently, we have provided evidence of the deleterious role of synovial fibrin deposition in arthritic joints in antigen-induced arthritis (AIA), a well-established murine model of RA.
A local imbalance between fibrin formation and fibrin dissolution may result in fibrin deposition in the joints.
On the one hand, fibrin formation is mainly initiated by tissue factor (TF), a transmembrane protein serving as a receptor for factor VII. Under normal conditions, TF expression and activity are tightly regulated. Constitutive TF expression is restricted to perivascular and epithelial cells, and the catalytic activity of the TF/VIIa complex can be inhibited by tissue factor pathway inhibitor (TFPI). Pathological conditions can perturb the cell-type-restricted pattern of TF expression. In particular, recent reports have shown that transcriptional activation of TF can be mediated by molecular mechanisms involving induction of the early growth response gene 1 (EGR1) or of the protease-activated receptor (PAR1) or vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) genes.
On the other hand, fibrin degradation is mediated primarily by plasmin, which is the active form of the zymogen plasminogen. Conversion of plasminogen to plasmin is under the control of serine protease plasminogen activators, such as the urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA), and their inhibitors, such as the plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI-1).
We hypothesized that the deposition of fibrin in the joints may result from an imbalance in the local expression of key genes involved in coagulation and fibrinolytic pathways. To test this hypothesis, we investigated mRNA levels in arthritic versus nonarthritic joint tissues from two murine models of RA: AIA and collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). Genes that are directly implicated in coagulation (TF, TFPI) and fibrinolysis (UPA, PAI1), and other genes that may influence the expression of TF (EGR1, PAR1, VEGF), were investigated using a novel multiprobe RNase protection assay (RPA). Furthermore, we evaluated coagulation activity in arthritic and nonarthritic mice.
Mice with AIA or CIA were sacrificed at different time points: 2, 4, and 16 h and 3, 7, and 14 d after intra-articular antigen injection for AIA; 42 d after the first immunization for CIA. Total RNA was prepared from arthritic and nonarthritic knees for AIA, or arthritic and nonarthritic hind paws for CIA. Messenger RNA (mRNA) levels of the genes described above were determined by RPA and normalized to glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) mRNA levels. Coagulation assays were performed on joint tissue extracts and concentrations of thrombin-antithrombin III (TAT) complex were measured in plasma.
In AIA, all the genes studied except VEGF were upmodulated as early as 2 h. PAR1, TFPI, EGR1, and UPA expression decreased to control levels by 16 h, whereas the expression of TF and PAI1 remained elevated. At later times, only TF, PAI1, and UPA showed sustained overexpression. In CIA, gene expression was assayed at only one time point (42 d after immunization) and all genes showed higher mRNA levels in the affected paws than in control paws. In AIA mice, procoagulant activity and TF activity were significantly increased in arthritic joints, and in CIA mice, plasma TAT levels were significantly enhanced.
Fibrin deposition in synovia is prominent in both RA and experimental arthritis, suggesting that this protein may play a role in the pathogenesis of chronic inflammation. In this study, we have tried to shed some light on the molecular mechanisms leading to extravascular fibrin deposition, using two well-established mouse models of RA: AIA and CIA. The kinetics of gene expression was first analyzed in mice with AIA, because this model allows for an accurate, temporally controlled sampling of synovial inflammation. We then extended our observations by analyzing one time point in CIA, 42 d after immunization, when chronic inflammation is present. We found that in both models, coagulation and fibrinolysis in arthritic joints were significantly increased, and that the most significant increases were in TF and PAI-1.
Although the molecular mechanism or mechanisms responsible for the transcriptional changes observed are not completely understood, the increases in TF, PAI-1, and uPA are probably due to the production of proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-1 and TGF-α. These cytokines, whose presence in the inflamed synovium is well documented, are known to induce these genes through the activation of nuclear factor κB (NF-κB), a transcription factor. TF induction is also under the control of a proximal enhancer containing a binding site for the inducible transcription factor EGR1. Indeed, the early rise of EGR1 expression in AIA is consistent with its classification as immediate-early gene and may be responsible for the induction of early expression of TF. Early TF stimulation in AIA can also be accounted for by the transient overexpression of PAR1. Contrary to what has been shown in RA, VEGF expression remained essentially unchanged throughout the progression of AIA, probably reflecting a peculiarity of this murine model.
The alteration of the patterns of gene expression was accompanied by increased functional coagulation activity, which was more marked in AIA than in CIA.
Prominent fibrin deposition in two different animal models of RA – AIA and CIA – can be attributed to modulations in key regulatory genes for coagulation and fibrinolysis.
PMCID: PMC17822  PMID: 11056680
arthritis; coagulation; fibrinolysis; mice; RNase protection
13.  Human epidermal growth factor receptor bispecific ligand trap RB200: abrogation of collagen-induced arthritis in combination with tumour necrosis factor blockade 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(5):R161.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic disease associated with inflammation and destruction of bone and cartilage. Although inhibition of TNFα is widely used to treat RA, a significant number of patients do not respond to TNFα blockade, and therefore there is a compelling need to continue to identify alternative therapeutic strategies for treating chronic inflammatory diseases such as RA. The anti-epidermal growth factor (anti-EGF) receptor antibody trastuzumab has revolutionised the treatment of patients with EGF receptor-positive breast cancer. Expression of EGF ligands and receptors (known as HER) has also been documented in RA. The highly unique compound RB200 is a bispecific ligand trap that is composed of full-length extracellular domains of HER1 and HER3 EGF receptors. Because of its pan-HER specificity, RB200 inhibits responses mediated by HER1, HER2 and HER3 in vitro and in vivo. The objective of this study was to assess the effect of RB200 combined with TNF blockade in a murine collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) model of RA.
Arthritic mice were treated with RB200 alone or in combination with the TNF receptor fusion protein etanercept. We performed immunohistochemistry to assess CD31 and in vivo fluorescent imaging using anti-E-selectin antibody labelled with fluorescent dye to elucidate the effect of RB200 on the vasculature in CIA.
RB200 significantly abrogated CIA by reducing paw swelling and clinical scores. Importantly, low-dose RB200 combined with a suboptimal dose of etanercept led to complete abrogation of arthritis. Moreover, the combination of RB200 with etanercept abrogated the intensity of the E-selectin-targeted signal to the level seen in control animals not immunised to CIA.
The human pan-EGF receptor bispecific ligand trap RB200, when combined with low-dose etanercept, abrogates CIA, suggesting that inhibition of events downstream of EGF receptor activation, in combination with TNFα inhibitors, may hold promise as a future therapy for patients with RA.
PMCID: PMC3308094  PMID: 21982514
14.  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
15.  Granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor exacerbates collagen induced arthritis in mice 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1997;56(6):364-368.
OBJECTIVE—To examine the effect of granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) on disease progression in the collagen induced arthritis (CIA) model in mice.
METHODS—DBA/1 mice were primed for a suboptimal CIA response by intradermal injection of chick type II collagen without a secondary immunisation. Three weeks after immunisation the mice were given four to five consecutive daily intraperitoneal injections of recombinant murine GM-CSF (15 µg; 5 × 105 U), or vehicle, and arthritis development was monitored by clinical scoring of paws and calliper measurements of footpad swelling. At approximately six to eight weeks after immunisation mice were killed, their limbs removed and processed for histological analyses of joint pathology.
RESULTS—Control animals receiving a single immunisation with collagen exhibited a varied CIA response both in terms of incidence and severity. Mice treated with GM-CSF at 20 to 25 days after immunisation with collagen had a consistently greater incidence and more rapid onset of disease than the vehicle treated control mice, based on clinical assessment. GM-CSF treated mice showed higher average clinical scores and greater paw swelling than controls. Histological analyses of joints reflected the clinical scores with GM-CSF treated mice displaying more pronounced pathology (synovitis, pannus formation, cartilage and bone damage) than control mice.
CONCLUSION—GM-CSF is a potent accelerator of the pathological events leading to chronic inflammatory polyarthritis in murine CIA supporting the notion that GM-CSF may play a part in inflammatory polyarthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

PMCID: PMC1752394  PMID: 9227165
16.  Investigation of the role of endosomal Toll-like receptors in murine collagen-induced arthritis reveals a potential role for TLR7 in disease maintenance 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(3):R142.
Endosomal toll-like receptors (TLRs) have recently emerged as potential contributors to the inflammation observed in human and rodent models of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This study aims to evaluate the role of endosomal TLRs and in particular TLR7 in the murine collagen induced arthritis (CIA) model.
CIA was induced by injection of collagen in complete Freund's adjuvant. To investigate the effect of endosomal TLRs in the CIA model, mianserin was administered daily from the day of disease onset. The specific role of TLR7 was examined by inducing CIA in TLR7-deficient mice. Disease progression was assessed by measuring clinical score, paw swelling, serum anti-collagen antibodies histological parameters, cytokine production and the percentage of T regulatory (Treg) cells.
Therapeutic administration of mianserin to arthritic animals demonstrated a highly protective effect on paw swelling and joint destruction. TLR7-/- mice developed a mild arthritis, where the clinical score and paw swelling were significantly compromised in comparison to the control group. The amelioration of arthritis by mianserin and TLR7 deficiency both corresponded with a reduction in IL-17 responses, histological and clinical scores, and paw swelling.
These data highlight the potential role for endosomal TLRs in the maintenance of inflammation in RA and support the concept of a role for TLR7 in experimental arthritis models. This study also illustrates the potential benefit that may be afforded by therapeutically inhibiting the endosomal TLRs in RA.
PMCID: PMC3446525  PMID: 22691272
17.  Deletion of Fcγ Receptor IIB Renders H-2b Mice Susceptible to Collagen-induced Arthritis  
Autoimmune diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis, result from a dysregulation of the immune response culminating in hyperactivation of effector cells leading to immune-mediated injury. To maintain an appropriate immune response and prevent the emergence of autoimmune disease, activation signals must be regulated by inhibitory pathways. Biochemical and genetic studies indicate that the type IIB low-affinity receptor for immunoglobulin (Ig)G (FcγRIIB) inhibits cellular activation triggered through antibody or immune complexes and may be an important component in preventing the emergence of autoimmunity. To investigate the role of FcγRIIB in the development of type II collagen (CII)-induced arthritis (CIA), a model for rheumatoid arthritis in humans, we have examined its contribution in determining the susceptibility to CIA in the nonpermissive H-2b haplotype. H-2b mice immunized with bovine CII do not develop appreciable disease. In contrast, immunization of the FcγRIIB-deficient, H-2b mice with bovine CII induced CIA at an incidence of 42.2%. The maximal arthritis index of the FcγRIIB-deficient mice developing CIA (6.9 ± 3.6) was comparable to that of DBA/1 mice (8.6 ± 1.9), an H-2q strain susceptible for CIA induction. IgG1, IgG2a, and IgG2b antibody responses against CII were elevated in the FcγRIIB-deficient animals, especially in those mice showing arthritis, but less pronounced than DBA/1 mice. Histological examinations of the arthritic paws from FcγRIIB-deficient mice revealed that cartilage was destroyed and bone was focally eroded in association with marked lymphocyte and monocyte/macrophage infiltration, very similar to the pathologic findings observed in DBA/1 mice. These results indicate that a nonpermissive H-2b haplotype can be rendered permissive to CIA induction through deletion of FcγRIIB, suggesting that FcγRIIB plays a critical role in suppressing the induction of CIA.
PMCID: PMC1887699  PMID: 9874575
collagen-induced arthritis; autoimmunity; Fc receptor; gene targeting; macrophage
18.  Temporal development of muscle atrophy in murine model of arthritis is related to disease severity 
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory autoimmune disease of unknown etiology, affecting mainly the joint but also other tissues. RA patients usually present weakness and muscle atrophy, nonarticular manifestations of the disease. Although causing great impact, the understanding of muscle atrophy, its development, and the mechanisms involved is still very limited. The objective of this study is to evaluate the development of muscle atrophy in skeletal muscle of a murine model of arthritis.
The experimental murine model of collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) was used. DBA/1J mice were randomly divided into three groups: control (CO, n = 25), sham arthritis (SA, n = 25), and arthritis (CIA, n = 28), analyzed in different time points: 25, 35, and 45 days after the induction of arthritis. The arthritis development was followed by clinical scores and hind paw edema three times a week. The spontaneous exploratory locomotion and weight were evaluated weekly. In all time points, serum was collected before the death of the animals for cytokine analysis, and myofiber cross-sectional areas (CSA) of gastrocnemius (GA) and tibialis anterior (TA) skeletal muscles were evaluated.
The clinical parameters of arthritis progressively increased in CIA in all experimental times, demonstrating the greatest difference from other groups at 45 days after induction (clinical score: CO, 00 ± 00; SA, 1.00 ± 0.14; CIA, 3.28 ± 0.41 p > 0.05). The CIA animals had lower weights during all the experimentation periods with a difference of 6 % from CO at 45 days (p > 0.05). CIA animals also demonstrated progressive decrease in distance walked, with a reduction of 54 % in 35 and 74 % at 45 days. Cytokine analysis identified significant increase in IL-6 serum levels in CIA than CO and SA in all experimental times. CSA of the myofiber of GA and TA was decreased 26 and 31 % (p > 0.05) in CIA in 45 days after the induction of disease, respectively. There was significant and inverse correlation between the disease clinical score and myofiber CSA in 45 days (GA: r = −0.71; p = 0.021).
Our results point to a progressive development of muscle wasting, with premature onset arthritis. These observations are relevant to understand the development of muscle loss, as well as for the design of future studies trying to understand the mechanisms involved in muscle wasting. As far as we are concerned, this is the first study to evaluate the relation between disease score and muscle atrophy in a model of arthritis.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s13539-013-0102-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3774915  PMID: 23389765
Muscle wasting; Arthritis animal model; Chronic inflammation
19.  T-614, a novel immunomodulator, attenuates joint inflammation and articular damage in collagen-induced arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2008;10(6):R136.
T-614 is a novel oral antirheumatic agent for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Whether it has immunomodulatory or disease-modifying properties and its mechanism of action are largely undetermined.
Rats with collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) were treated with T-614 (5 and 20 mg/kg) daily. Animals receiving methotrexate (1 mg/kg every 3 days) and the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agent nimesulide (10 mg/kg per day) were used as controls. A combination therapy group was treated with both T-614(10 mg/kg per day) and methotrexate (1 mg/kg every 3 days). Hind paw swelling was evaluated and radiographic scores calculated. Serum cytokine levels were assessed by Bio-plex analysis. Quantitative PCR was used to evaluate expression of mRNA for interferon-γ, IL-4 and IL-17. Serum IL-17 and anti-type II collagen antibodies (total IgG, IgG1, IgG2a, IgG2b and IgM) were measured using ELISA.
Oral T-614 inhibited paw swelling and offered significant protection against arthritis-induced cartilage and bone erosion, comparable to the effects of methotrexate. CIA rats treated with T-614 exhibited decreases in both mRNA expression of IL-17 in peripheral blood mononuclear cells and lymph node cells, and circulating IL-17 in a dose-dependent manner. T-614 also reduced serum levels of tumor necrosis factor-α, IL-1β and IL-6. A synergistic effect was observed for the combination of methotrexate and T-614. In addition, T-614 (20 mg/kg per day) depressed production of anti-type II collagen antibodies and differentially affected levels of IgG2a subclasses in vivo, whereas IgM level was decreased without any change in the IgG1 level. Together, the findings presented here indicate that the novel agent T-614 has disease-modifying effects against experimental arthritis, as opposed to nimesulide.
Our data suggested that T-614 is an effective disease-modifying agent that can prevent bone/cartilage destruction and inflammation in in CIA rats. Combination with methotrexate markedly enhances the therapeutic effect of T-614.
PMCID: PMC2656239  PMID: 19019215
20.  EGCG Enhances the Therapeutic Potential of Gemcitabine and CP690550 by Inhibiting STAT3 Signaling Pathway in Human Pancreatic Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e31067.
Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 3 (STAT3) is an oncogene, which promotes cell survival, proliferation, motility and progression in cancer cells. Targeting STAT3 signaling may lead to the development of novel therapeutic approaches for human cancers. Here, we examined the effects of epigallocathechin gallate (EGCG) on STAT3 signaling in pancreatic cancer cells, and assessed the therapeutic potential of EGCG with gemcitabine or JAK3 inhibitor CP690550 (Tasocitinib) for the treatment and/or prevention of pancreatic cancer.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Cell viability and apoptosis were measured by XTT assay and TUNEL staining, respectively. Gene and protein expressions were measured by qRT-PCR and Western blot analysis, respectively. The results revealed that EGCG inhibited the expression of phospho and total JAK3 and STAT3, STAT3 transcription and activation, and the expression of STAT3-regulated genes, resulting in the inhibition of cell motility, migration and invasion, and the induction of caspase-3 and PARP cleavage. The inhibition of STAT3 enhanced the inhibitory effects of EGCG on cell motility and viability. Additionally, gemcitabine and CP690550 alone inhibited STAT3 target genes and synergized with EGCG to inhibit cell viability and induce apoptosis in pancreatic cancer cells.
Overall, these results suggest that EGCG suppresses the growth, invasion and migration of pancreatic cancer cells, and induces apoptosis by interfering with the STAT3 signaling pathway. Moreover, EGCG further enhanced the therapeutic potential of gemcitabine and CP690550 against pancreatic cancer.
PMCID: PMC3278426  PMID: 22348037
21.  TNF receptor gene therapy results in suppression of IgG2a anticollagen antibody in collagen induced arthritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2003;62(8):707-714.
Background: Therapeutic strategies to block tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα) activity in experimental autoimmune arthritis models and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have proved highly successful, and provide sustained beneficial effects.
Objective: To examine whether TNFα inhibition has immunological activity beyond the reduction of inflammation in collagen induced arthritis (CIA), an established experimental model of RA.
Methods: Arthritic DBA/1 mice received single periarticular injections of retroviral constructs encoding human TNF receptor (TNF-R) into the affected arthritic paw, at the onset of arthritis. Severity of arthritis, antibodies to collagen type II (CII), and extent of pathological joint damage of arthritic paws were compared between TNF-R and media treated (control) animals 3, 7, 14, 21, and 49 days after disease onset.
Results: Severity of CIA was significantly decreased in TNF-R treated animals compared with controls, 14–34 days after disease onset. Joint destruction was reduced in TNF-R injected joints and in the uninjected contralateral and ipsilateral paws of TNF-R treated animals. Seven days after disease onset, TNF-R treated mice had lower levels of inflammatory Th1 driven IgG2a antibodies to CII (p<0.05) than controls. This altered the anticollagen IgG2a:IgG1 ratio towards Th2 driven IgG1.
Conclusions: Local TNF-R gene therapy in CIA appears to have systemic effects on the anti-CII antibodies. The overall influence of TNF-R gene therapy is that it inhibits the progression of CIA mainly by suppressing the inflammatory Th1 response rather than by stimulating a Th2 response. Therefore, periarticular TNF-R gene therapy may have excellent therapeutic potential in RA.
PMCID: PMC1754640  PMID: 12860724
22.  RANKL inhibition by osteoprotegerin prevents bone loss without affecting local or systemic inflammation parameters in two rat arthritis models: comparison with anti-TNFα or anti-IL-1 therapies 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2009;11(6):R187.
Rat adjuvant-induced arthritis (AIA) and collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) feature bone loss and systemic increases in TNFα, IL-1β, and receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL). Anti-IL-1 or anti-TNFα therapies consistently reduce inflammation in these models, but systemic bone loss often persists. RANKL inhibition consistently prevents bone loss in both models without reducing joint inflammation. Effects of these therapies on systemic markers of bone turnover and inflammation have not been directly compared.
Lewis rats with established AIA or CIA were treated for 10 days (from day 4 post onset) with either PBS (Veh), TNFα inhibitor (pegsunercept), IL-1 inhibitor (anakinra), or RANKL inhibitor (osteoprotegerin (OPG)-Fc). Local inflammation was evaluated by monitoring hind paw swelling. Bone mineral density (BMD) of paws and lumbar vertebrae was assessed by dual X-ray absorptiometry. Markers and mediators of bone resorption (RANKL, tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase 5b (TRACP 5B)) and inflammation (prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), acute-phase protein alpha-1-acid glycoprotein (α1AGP), multiple cytokines) were measured in serum (day 14 post onset).
Arthritis progression significantly increased paw swelling and ankle and vertebral BMD loss. Anti-TNFα reduced paw swelling in both models, and reduced ankle BMD loss in AIA rats. Anti-IL-1 decreased paw swelling in CIA rats, and reduced ankle BMD loss in both models. Anti-TNFα and anti-IL-1 failed to prevent vertebral BMD loss in either model. OPG-Fc reduced BMD loss in ankles and vertebrae in both models, but had no effect on paw swelling. Serum RANKL was elevated in AIA-Veh and CIA-Veh rats. While antiTNFα and anti-IL-1 partially normalized serum RANKL without any changes in serum TRACP 5B, OPG-Fc treatment reduced serum TRACP 5B by over 90% in both CIA and AIA rats. CIA-Veh and AIA-Veh rats had increased serum α1AGP, IL-1β, IL-8 and chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2 (CCL2), and AIA-Veh rats also had significantly greater serum PGE2, TNFα and IL-17. Anti-TNFα reduced systemic α1AGP, CCL2 and PGE2 in AIA rats, while anti-IL-1 decreased systemic α1AGP, IL-8 and PGE2. In contrast, RANKL inhibition by OPG-Fc did not lessen systemic cytokine levels in either model.
Anti-TNFα or anti-IL-1 therapy inhibited parameters of local and systemic inflammation, and partially reduced local but not systemic bone loss in AIA and CIA rats. RANKL inhibition prevented local and systemic bone loss without significantly inhibiting local or systemic inflammatory parameters.
PMCID: PMC3003514  PMID: 20003323
23.  Advances in rheumatology: new targeted therapeutics 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(Suppl 1):S5.
Treatment of inflammatory arthritides - including rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and psoriatic arthritis - has seen much progress in recent years, partially due to increased understanding of the pathogenesis of these diseases at the cellular and molecular levels. These conditions share some common mechanisms. Biologic therapies have provided a clear advance in the treatment of rheumatological conditions. Currently available TNF-targeting biologic agents that are licensed for at east one of the above-named diseases are etanercept, infliximab, adalimumab, golimumab, and certolizumab. Biologic agents with a different mechanism of action have also been approved in rheumatoid arthritis (rituximab, abatacept, and tocilizumab). Although these biologic agents are highly effective, there is a need for improved management strategies. There is also a need for education of family physicians and other healthcare professionals in the identification of early symptoms of inflammatory arthritides and the importance of early referral to rheumatologists for diagnosis and treatment. Also, researchers are developing molecules - for example, the Janus kinase inhibitor CP-690550 (tofacitinib) and the spleen tyrosine kinase inhibitor R788 (fostamatinib) - to target other aspects of the inflammatory cascade. Initial trial results with new agents are promising, and, in time, head-to-head trials will establish the best treatment options for patients. The key challenge is identifying how best to integrate these new, advanced therapies into daily practice.
PMCID: PMC3123966  PMID: 21624184
24.  Statins accelerate the onset of collagen type II-induced arthritis in mice 
Statins (hydroxymethylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors) are effective in reducing the risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in patients with hyperlipidemia, hypertension, or type II diabetes. Next to their cholesterol-lowering activity, statins have immunomodulatory properties. Based on these properties, we hypothesized that statin use may eventually lead to dysregulation of immune responses, possibly resulting in autoimmunity. We have recently shown in an observational study that statin use was associated with an increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Our objective was to investigate whether a causal relationship could be established for this finding.
The mouse collagen type II (CII)-induced arthritis (CIA) model was used, with immunization, challenge, and euthanasia at days 0, 21, and 42, respectively. Statins were given orally before (day -28 until day 21) or after (day 21 until day 42) CIA induction. Atorvastatin (0.2 mg/day) or pravastatin (0.8 mg/day) was administered. Arthritis was recorded three times a week. Serum anti-CII autoantibodies and cytokines in supernatants from Concanavalin-A-stimulated lymph node cells and CII-stimulated spleen cells were measured.
Statin administration accelerated arthritis onset and resulted in 100% arthritic animals, whereas only seven out of 12 nonstatin control animals developed arthritis. Atorvastatin administration after CIA induction resulted in earlier onset than atorvastatin administration before induction, or than pravastatin administration before or after induction. The arthritic score of animals given pravastatin before CIA induction was similar to that of the nonstatin controls, whereas the other groups that received statins showed higher arthritic scores. Atorvastatin administration, especially before CIA induction, increased anti-CII autoantibody production. IL-2 and IL-17 production by lymph node and spleen cells was higher in CIA animals than in PBS controls, but was not affected by statin administration. While IFNγ production was not affected by CIA induction, atorvastatin administration before CIA induction increased the production of this cytokine.
These data support previous results from our observational studies, indicating a role for statins in the induction of autoimmunity.
PMCID: PMC3446464  PMID: 22537858
25.  Identification of two new arthritis severity loci that regulate levels of autoantibodies, IL-1β and joint damage 
Arthritis and Rheumatism  2012;64(5):1369-1378.
Cia3 is a locus on rat chromosome 4 that regulates severity and joint damage in collagen and pristane-induced arthritis (CIA and PIA). This study aimed to refine the Cia3 gene-containing interval towards gene identification and obtain insights into its mode of action.
Five DA.F344(Cia3) subcongenic strains were generated and studied in PIA and CIA. Levels of antibodies against type II collagen (both allo- and autoantibodies) were measured. Joints and synovial tissues were collected 32 days after the induction of PIA (chronic stage) for histology and qPCR for IL-1β and matrix metalloproteases (MMPs).
Three subcongenics sharing the centromeric Cia3d interval were protected, while two subcongenics sharing the telomeric Cia3g interval, which did not overlap with Cia3d, were also protected, developing significantly less severe CIA and PIA. DA.F344(Cia3) and DA.F344(Cia3d) congenics with PIA preserved a normal joint architecture, while DA rats had pronounced synovial hyperplasia, angiogenesis, inflammatory infiltration, bone or cartilage erosions. DA.F344(Cia3d) and DA.F344(Cia3g) strains had significantly lower synovial levels of IL-1β (5-fold), MMP-1 (expressed predominantly in DA), MMP-3 (79-fold) and MMP-14 (21-fold) and reduced levels of pathogenic autoantibodies against type II collagen, compared with DA.
We have identified two new arthritis severity and articular damage loci within Cia3. These loci regulate pathogenic processes in two different models of RA, and the identification of these genes has the potential to generate new targets for therapies aimed at reducing disease severity and articular damage, and for prognostication in RA.
PMCID: PMC3288617  PMID: 22076633
Autoimmunity; Rheumatoid arthritis; animal model; erosion; IL-1β

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