The OMERACT Filter provides a framework for the validation of outcome measures for use in rheumatology clinical research. However, imaging and biochemical measures may face additional validation challenges due to their technical nature. The Imaging and Soluble Biomarker Session at OMERACT 11 aimed to provide a guide for the iterative development of an imaging or biochemical measurement instrument so it can be used in therapeutic assessment.
A hierarchical structure was proposed, reflecting 3 dimensions needed for validating an imaging or biochemical measurement instrument: outcome domain(s), study setting and performance of the instrument. Movement along the axes in any dimension reflects increasing validation. For a given test instrument, the 3-axis structure assesses the extent to which the instrument is a validated measure for the chosen domain, whether it assesses a patient or disease centred-variable, and whether its technical performance is adequate in the context of its application. Some currently used imaging and soluble biomarkers for rheumatoid arthritis, spondyloarthritis and knee osteoarthritis were then evaluated using the original OMERACT filter and the newly proposed structure. Break-out groups critically reviewed the extent to which the candidate biomarkers complied with the proposed step-wise approach, as a way of examining the utility of the proposed 3 dimensional structure.
Although there was a broad acceptance of the value of the proposed structure in general, some areas for improvement were suggested including clarification of criteria for achieving a certain level of validation and how to deal with extension of the structure to areas beyond clinical trials.
General support was obtained for a proposed tri-axis structure to assess validation of imaging and soluble biomarkers; nevertheless, additional work is required to better evaluate its place within the OMERACT Filter 2.0.
biomarkers; imaging; OMERACT filter; validation framework
Angiogenesis is an important pathophysiological process of chronic inflammation, especially in inflammatory arthritis. Quantitative measurement of changes in vascularization may improve the diagnosis and monitoring of arthritis. The aim of this work is the development of a 3D imaging and analysis framework for quantification of vascularization in experimental arthritis.
High-resolution micro-computed tomography (μCT) was used to scan knee joints of arthritic human tumor necrosis factor transgenic (hTNFtg) mice and non-arthritic wild-type controls previously perfused with lead-containing contrast agent Microfil MV-122. Vessel segmentation was performed by combination of intensity-based (local adaptive thresholding) and form-based (multi-scale method) segmentation techniques. Four anatomically defined concentric spherical shells centered in the knee joint were used as analysis volumes of interest. Vessel density, density distribution as well as vessel thickness, surface, spacing and number were measured. Simulated digital vessel tree models were used for validation of the algorithms.
High-resolution μCT allows the quantitative assessment of the vascular tree in the knee joint during arthritis. Segmentation and analysis were highly automated but occasionally required manual corrections of the vessel segmentation close to the bone surfaces. Vascularization was significantly increased in arthritic hTNFtg mice compared to wild type controls. Precision errors for the morphologic parameters were smaller than 3% and 6% for intra- and interoperator analysis, respectively. Accuracy errors for vessel thickness were around 20% for vessels larger than twice the resolution of the scanner.
Arthritis-induced changes of the vascular tree, including detailed and quantitative description of the number of vessel branches, length of vessel segments and the bifurcation angle, can be detected by contrast-enhanced high-resolution μCT.
Angiogenesis; Vascularization; Inflammatory arthritis; μCT; Vessel segmentation
Interleukin (IL)-36α is a newly described member of the IL-1 cytokine family with a known inflammatory and pathogenic function in psoriasis. Recently, we could demonstrate that the receptor (IL-36R), its ligand IL-36α and its antagonist IL-36Ra are expressed in synovial tissue of arthritis patients. Furthermore, IL-36α induces MAP-kinase and NFκB signaling in human synovial fibroblasts with subsequent expression and secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
To understand the pathomechanism of IL-36 dependent inflammation, we investigated the biological impact of IL-36α signaling in the hTNFtg mouse. Also the impact on osteoclastogenesis by IL-36α was tested in murine and human osteoclast assays.
Diseased mice showed an increased expression of IL-36R and IL-36α in inflamed knee joints compared to wildtype controls. However, preventively treating mice with an IL-36R blocking antibody led to no changes in clinical onset and pattern of disease. Furthermore, blockade of IL-36 signaling did not change histological signs of TNF-induced arthritis. Additionally, no alteration on bone homeostasis was observed in ex vivo murine and human osteoclast differentiation assays.
Thus we conclude that IL-36α does not affect the development of inflammatory arthritis.
Bone erosion is a central feature of rheumatoid arthritis and is associated with disease severity and poor functional outcome. Erosion of periarticular cortical bone, the typical feature observed on plain radiographs in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, results from excessive local bone resorption and inadequate bone formation. The main triggers of articular bone erosion are synovitis, including the production of proinflammatory cytokines and receptor activator of nuclear factor κB ligand (RANKL), as well as antibodies directed against citrullinated proteins. Indeed, both cytokines and autoantibodies stimulate the differentiation of bone-resorbing osteoclasts, thereby stimulating local bone resorption. Although current antirheumatic therapy inhibits both bone erosion and inflammation, repair of existing bone lesions, albeit physiologically feasible, occurs rarely. Lack of repair is due, at least in part, to active suppression of bone formation by proinflammatory cytokines. This Review summarizes the substantial progress that has been made in understanding the pathophysiology of bone erosions and discusses the improvements in the diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of such lesions.
The overexpression of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α leads to systemic as well as local loss of bone and cartilage and is also an important regulator during fracture healing. In this study, we investigate how TNF-α inhibition using a targeted monoclonal antibody affects fracture healing in a TNF-α driven animal model of human rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and elucidate the question whether enduring the anti TNF-α therapy after trauma is beneficial or not.
A standardized femur fracture was applied to wild type and human TNF-α transgenic mice (hTNFtg mice), which develop an RA-like chronic polyarthritis. hTNFtg animals were treated with anti-TNF antibody (Infliximab) during the fracture repair. Untreated animals served as controls. Fracture healing was evaluated after 14 and 28 days of treatment by clinical assessment, biomechanical testing and histomorphometry.
High levels of TNF-α influence fracture healing negatively, lead to reduced cartilage and more soft tissue in the callus as well as decreased biomechanical bone stability. Blocking TNF-α in hTNFtg mice lead to similar biomechanical and histomorphometrical properties as in wild type.
High levels of TNF-α during chronic inflammation have a negative impact on fracture healing. Our data suggest that TNF-α inhibition by an anti-TNF antibody does not interfere with fracture healing.
Anti-TNFα; Inflammation; Fracture healing; Rheumatoid arthritis; Treatment
Pathologic fibroblast activation drives fibrosis of the skin and internal organs in patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc). β-catenin is an integral part of adherens junctions and a central component of canonical Wnt signaling. Here, the authors addressed the role of β-catenin in fibroblasts for the development of SSc dermal fibrosis.
Nuclear accumulation of β-catenin in fibroblasts was assessed by triple staining for β-catenin, prolyl-4-hydroxylase-β and 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI). The expression of Wnt proteins in the skin was analysed by real-time PCR and immunohistochemistry. Mice with fibroblast-specific stabilisation or fibroblast-specific depletion were used to evaluate the role of β-catenin in fibrosis.
The auhors found significantly increased nuclear levels of β-catenin in fibroblasts in SSc skin compared to fibroblasts in the skin of healthy individuals. The accumulation of β-catenin resulted from increased expression of Wnt-1 and Wnt-10b in SSc. The authors further showed that the nuclear accumulation of β-catenin has direct implications for the development of fibrosis: Mice with fibroblast-specific stabilisation of β-catenin rapidly developed fibrosis within 2 weeks with dermal thickening, accumulation of collagen and differentiation of resting fibroblasts into myofibroblasts. By contrast, fibroblast-specific deletion of β-catenin significantly reduced bleomycin-induced dermal fibrosis.
The present study findings identify β-catenin as a key player of fibroblast activation and tissue fibrosis in SSc. Although further translational studies are necessary to test the efficacy and tolerability of β-catenin/Wnt inhibition in SSc, the present findings may have clinical implications, because selective inhibitors of β-catenin/Wnt signaling have recently entered clinical trials.
Significance: In the cells' nuclei, high-mobility group box protein 1 (HMGB1) is a nonhistone chromatin-binding protein involved in the regulation of transcription. Extracellularly, HMGB1 acts as a danger molecule with properties of a proinflammatory cytokine. It can be actively secreted from myeloid cells or passively leak from any type of injured, necrotic cell. Increased serum levels of active HMGB1 are often found in pathogenic inflammatory conditions and correlate with worse prognoses in cancer, sepsis, and autoimmunity. By damaging cells, superoxide and peroxynitrite promote leakage of HMGB1. Recent Advances: The activity of HMGB1 strongly depends on its redox state: Inflammatory-active HMGB1 requires an intramolecular disulfide bond (Cys23 and Cys45) and a reduced Cys106. Oxidation of the latter blocks its stimulatory activity and promotes immune tolerance. Critical Issues: Reactive oxygen and nitrogen species create an oxidative environment and can be detoxified by superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase, and peroxidases. Modifications of the oxidative environment influence HMGB1 activity. Future Directions: In this review, we hypothesize that manipulations of an oxidative environment by SOD mimics or by hydrogen sulfide are prone to decrease tissue damage. Both the concomitant decreased HMGB1 release and its redox chemical modifications ameliorate inflammation and tissue damage. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 20, 1075–1085.
To evaluate if type 2 diabetes is an independent risk predictor for severe osteoarthritis (OA).
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
Population-based cohort study with an age- and sex-stratified random sample of 927 men and women aged 40–80 years and followed over 20 years (1990–2010).
Rates of arthroplasty (95% CI) were 17.7 (9.4–30.2) per 1,000 person-years in patients with type 2 diabetes and 5.3 (4.1–6.6) per 1,000 person-years in those without (P < 0.001). Type 2 diabetes emerged as an independent risk predictor for arthroplasty: hazard ratios (95% CI), 3.8 (2.1–6.8) (P < 0.001) in an unadjusted analysis and 2.1 (1.1–3.8) (P = 0.023) after adjustment for age, BMI, and other risk factors for OA. The probability of arthroplasty increased with disease duration of type 2 diabetes and applied to men and women, as well as subgroups according to age and BMI. Our findings were corroborated in cross-sectional evaluation by more severe clinical symptoms of OA and structural joint changes in subjects with type 2 diabetes compared with those without type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes predicts the development of severe OA independent of age and BMI. Our findings strengthen the concept of a strong metabolic component in the pathogenesis of OA.
Bone mass is maintained by osteoclasts that resorb bone and osteoblasts that promote matrix deposition and mineralization. Bone homeostasis is altered in chronic inflammation as well as in post-menopausal loss of estrogen, which favors osteoclast activity that leads to osteoporosis. The MAPK p38α is a key regulator of bone loss and p38 inhibitors preserve bone mass by inhibiting osteoclastogenesis. p38 function is regulated by two upstream MAPK kinases, namely MKK3 and MKK6. The goal of this study was to assess the effect of MKK3- or MKK6-deficiency on osteoclastogenesis in vitro and on bone loss in ovariectomy-induced osteoporosis in mice. We demonstrated that MKK3 but not MKK6, regulates osteoclast differentiation from bone marrow cells in vitro. Expression of NFATc1, a master transcription factor in osteoclastogenesis, is decreased in cells lacking MKK3 but not MKK6. Expression of osteoclast-specific genes Cathepsin K, osteoclast-associated receptor and MMP9, was inhibited in MKK3−/− cells. The effect of MKK-deficiency on ovariectomy-induced bone loss was then evaluated in female WT, MKK3−/− and MKK6−/− mice by micro-CT analysis. Bone loss was partially inhibited in MKK3−/− as well as MKK6−/− mice, despite normal osteoclastogenesis in MKK6−/− cells. This correlated with the lower osteoclast numbers in the MKK-deficient ovariectomized mice. These studies suggest that MKK3 and MKK6 differentially regulate bone loss due to estrogen withdrawal. MKK3 directly mediates osteoclastogenesis while MKK6 likely contributes to pro-inflammatory cytokine production that promotes osteoclast formation.
immunotherapy; tumor vaccination; cell death; tumor microenvironment; autoimmunity; danger model
Large amounts of dead and dying cells are produced during cancer therapy and allograft rejection. Depending on the death pathway and stimuli involved, dying cells exhibit diverse features, resulting in defined physiological consequences for the host. It is not fully understood how dying and dead cells modulate the immune response of the host. To address this problem, different death stimuli were studied in B16F10 melanoma cells by regulated inducible transgene expression of the pro-apoptotic active forms of caspase-3 (revCasp-3), Bid (tBid), and the Mycobacterium tuberculosis-necrosis inducing toxin (CpnTCTD). The immune outcome elicited for each death stimulus was assessed by evaluating the allograft rejection of melanoma tumors implanted subcutaneously in BALB/c mice immunized with dying cells. Expression of all proteins efficiently killed cells in vitro (>90%) and displayed distinctive morphological and physiological features as assessed by multiparametric flow cytometry analysis. BALB/c mice immunized with allogeneic dying melanoma cells expressing revCasp-3 or CpnTCTD showed strong rejection of the allogeneic challenge. In contrast, mice immunized with cells dying either after expression of tBid or irradiation with UVB did not, suggesting an immunologically silent cell death. Surprisingly, immunogenic cell death induced by expression of revCasp-3 or CpnTCTD correlated with elevated intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels at the time point of immunization. Conversely, early mitochondrial dysfunction induced by tBid expression or UVB irradiation accounted for the absence of intracellular ROS accumulation at the time point of immunization. Although ROS inhibition in vitro was not sufficient to abrogate the immunogenicity in our allo-immunization model, we suggest that the point of ROS generation and its intracellular accumulation may be an important factor for its role as damage associated molecular pattern in the development of allogeneic responses.
immunogenicity; apoptosis; cancer; ROS; caspase-3; tBid; necrosis; DAMPs
Individual participant time-to-event data from multiple prospective epidemiologic studies enable detailed investigation into the predictive ability of risk models. Here we address the challenges in appropriately combining such information across studies. Methods are exemplified by analyses of log C-reactive protein and conventional risk factors for coronary heart disease in the Emerging Risk Factors Collaboration, a collation of individual data from multiple prospective studies with an average follow-up duration of 9.8 years (dates varied). We derive risk prediction models using Cox proportional hazards regression analysis stratified by study and obtain estimates of risk discrimination, Harrell's concordance index, and Royston's discrimination measure within each study; we then combine the estimates across studies using a weighted meta-analysis. Various weighting approaches are compared and lead us to recommend using the number of events in each study. We also discuss the calculation of measures of reclassification for multiple studies. We further show that comparison of differences in predictive ability across subgroups should be based only on within-study information and that combining measures of risk discrimination from case-control studies and prospective studies is problematic. The concordance index and discrimination measure gave qualitatively similar results throughout. While the concordance index was very heterogeneous between studies, principally because of differing age ranges, the increments in the concordance index from adding log C-reactive protein to conventional risk factors were more homogeneous.
C index; coronary heart disease; D measure; individual participant data; inverse variance; meta-analysis; risk prediction; weighting
Mice lacking c-fos develop osteopetrosis due to a block in osteoclast differentiation. Carboxy-terminal phosphorylation of Fos on serine 374 by ERK1/2 and serine 362 by RSK1/2 regulates Fos stability and transactivation potential in vitro. To assess the physiological relevance of Fos phosphorylation in vivo, serine 362 and/or serine 374 were replaced by alanine (Fos362A, Fos374A and FosAA) or by phospho-mimetic aspartic acid (FosDD). Homozygous mutants were healthy and skeletogenesis was largely unaffected. Fos C-terminal phosphorylation, predominantly on serine 374, was found important for osteoclast differentiation in vitro and affected lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced cytokine response in vitro and in vivo. Importantly, skin papilloma development was delayed in FosAA, Fos362A and Rsk2-deficient mice, accelerated in FosDD mice and unaffected in Fos374A mutants. Furthermore, the related Fos protein and putative RSK2 target Fra1 failed to substitute for Fos in papilloma development. This indicates that phosphorylation of serines 362 and 374 exerts context-dependent roles in modulating Fos activity in vivo. Inhibition of Fos C-terminal phosphorylation on serine 362 by targeting RSK2 might be of therapeutic relevance for skin tumors.
AP-1; Fos; knock-in; mouse; phosphorylation
Bone mass, bone geometry and its changes are based on trabecular and cortical bone remodeling. Whereas the effects of estrogen loss, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), glucocorticoid (GC) and bisphosphonate (BP) on trabecular bone remodeling have been well described, the effects of these conditions on the cortical bone geometry are less known. The present review will report current knowledge on the effects of RA, GC and BP on cortical bone geometry and its clinical relevance. Estrogen deficiency, RA and systemic GC lead to enhanced endosteal bone resorption. While in estrogen deficiency and under GC therapy endosteal resorption is insufficiently compensated by periosteal apposition, RA is associated with some periosteal bone apposition resulting in a maintained load-bearing capacity and stiffness. In contrast, BP treatment leads to filling of endosteal bone cavities at the epiphysis; however, periosteal apposition at the bone shaft seems to be suppressed. In summary, estrogen loss, RA and GC show similar effects on endosteal bone remodeling with an increase in bone resorption, whereas their effect on periosteal bone remodeling may differ. Despite over 50 years of GC therapy and over 25 years of PB therapy, there is still need for better understanding of the skeletal effects of these drugs as well as of inflammatory disease such as RA on cortical bone remodeling.
In innate immunity, dead and dying cells release internal constituents that can serve as DAMPs (damage-associated molecular patterns) or alarmins. This release occurs more abundantly during necrosis than apoptosis and may account for the differences in the immunological properties of these death forms. To elucidate DAMP release in necrosis, we have compared the levels of two nuclear molecules (DNA and HMGB1, a non-histone protein with alarmin activity) in the media following necrosis of Jurkat T cells by freeze-thawing, ethanol, heat or hydrogen peroxide. In our experiments, DNA release was measured by fluorimetry with the dye PicoGreen, while HMGB1 was measured by Western blotting. As results of this study show, each form of necrosis is associated with a distinct pattern of DNA and HMGB1 release with respect to kinetics and amounts. Of these, freeze-thawing produced the highest and most rapid increase in HMGB1 and DNA levels although the released DNA was subject to nuclease digestion; in addition, freeze-thawing led to the production of particles measured by flow cytometry. Together, these results indicate that experimental necrosis leads to diverse patterns of nuclear molecule release which could affect their immunological activity.
alarmin; DNA; HMGB1; immune activation; necrosis
To assess the determinants of patients’ (PTGL) and physicians’ (MDGL) global assessment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) activity and factors associated with discordance among them.
A total of 7,028 patients in the Quantitative Standard Monitoring of Patients with RA study had PTGL and MDGL assessed at the same clinic visit on a 0–10-cm visual analog scale (VAS). Three patient groups were defined: concordant rating group (PTGL and MDGL within ±2 cm), higher patient rating group (PTGL exceeding MDGL by >2 cm), and lower patient rating group (PTGL less than MDGL by >2 cm). Multivariable regression analysis was used to identify determinants of PTGL and MDGL and their discordance.
The mean ± SD VAS scores for PTGL and MDGL were 4.01 ± 2.70 and 2.91 ± 2.37, respectively. Pain was overwhelmingly the single most important determinant of PTGL, followed by fatigue. In contrast, MDGL was most influenced by swollen joint count (SJC), followed by erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and tender joint count (TJC). A total of 4,454 (63.4%), 2,106 (30%), and 468 (6.6%) patients were in the concordant, higher, and lower patient rating groups, respectively. Odds of higher patient rating increased with higher pain, fatigue, psychological distress, age, and morning stiffness, and decreased with higher SJC, TJC, and ESR. Lower patient rating odds increased with higher SJC, TJC, and ESR, and decreased with lower fatigue levels.
Nearly 36% of patients had discordance in RA activity assessment from their physicians. Sensitivity to the “disease experience” of patients, particularly pain and fatigue, is warranted for effective care of RA.
The aim of this study was to determine the factors, including markers of bone resorption and bone formation, which determine catabolic and anabolic periarticular bone changes in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Forty RA patients received high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography (HR-pQCT) analysis of the metacarpophalangeal joints II and III of the dominantly affected hand at two sequential time points (baseline, one year follow-up). Erosion counts and scores as well as osteophyte counts and scores were recorded. Simultaneously, serum markers of bone resorption (C-terminal telopeptide of type I collagen (CTX I), tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase 5b (TRAP5b)), bone formation (bone alkaline phosphatase (BAP), osteocalcin (OC)) and calcium homeostasis (parathyroid hormone (PTH), 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (Vit D)) were assessed. Bone biomarkers were correlated to imaging data by partial correlation adjusting for various demographic and disease-specific parameters. Additionally, imaging data were analyzed by mixed linear model regression.
Partial correlation analysis showed that TRAP5b levels correlate significantly with bone erosions, whereas BAP levels correlate with osteophytes at both time points. In the mixed linear model with erosions as the dependent variable, disease duration (P <0.001) was the key determinant for these catabolic bone changes. In contrast, BAP (P = 0.001) as well as age (P = 0.018), but not disease duration (P = 0.762), were the main determinants for the anabolic changes (osteophytes) of the periarticular bone in patients with RA.
This study shows that structural bone changes assessed with HR-pQCT are accompanied by alterations in systemic markers of bone resorption and bone formation. Besides, it can be shown that bone erosions in RA patients depend on disease duration, whereas osteophytes are associated with age as well as serum level of BAP. Therefore, these data not only suggest that different variables are involved in formation of bone erosions and osteophytes in RA patients, but also that periarticular bone changes correlate with alterations in systemic markers of bone metabolism, pointing out BAP as an important parameter.
Rheumatoid arthritis; bone resorption; bone formation; computed tomography; bone biomarkers
p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) is thought to play a central role in acute and chronic inflammatory responses. Whether p38MAPK plays a pathogenic role in crescentic GN (GN) and which of its four isoforms is preferentially involved in kidney inflammation is not definitely known. We thus examined expression and activation of p38MAPK isoforms during anti-glomerular basement membrane (GBM) nephritis. Therefore, p38α conditional knockout mice (MxCre-p38αΔ/Δ) were used to examine the role of p38α in anti-GBM induced nephritis. Both wild type and MxCre-p38αΔ/Δ mice developed acute renal failure over time. Histological examinations revealed a reduced monocyte influx and less tubular damage in MxCre-p38αΔ/Δ mice, whereas glomerular crescent formation and renal fibrosis was similar. Likewise, the levels of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF, IL-1 and IL-10 were similar, but IL-8 was even up-regulated in MxCre-p38αΔ/Δ mice. In contrast, we could detect strong down-regulation of chemotactic cytokines such as CCL-2, -5 and -7, in the kidneys of MxCre-p38αΔ/Δ mice. In conclusion, p38α is the primary p38MAPK isoform expressed in anti-GBM nephritis and selectively affects inflammatory cell influx and tubular damage. Full protection from nephritis is however not achieved as renal failure and structural damage still occurs.
The Spondyloarthritis Research and Therapy Network (SPARTAN), founded in 2003 to promote research, education, and treatment of ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and related forms of spondyloarthritis (SpA), held its sixth Annual Research and Education Meeting in July 2008 in Cleveland, Ohio. The overall theme of the meeting was entheses and bones in SpA, which included presentations on the anatomy and physiology of the synovial-entheseal complex; bone formation and destruction, and the impact of inflammation on bone; the Th17 axis, HLA-B27, IL23R, and ARTS1; and breakout sessions on epidemiology and registries.
ankylosing spondylitis; epidemiology; spondyloarthritis; spondyloarthropathies
The deposition of monosodium urate (MSU) crystals in synovial fluid and tissue leads to gouty arthritis frequently associated with synovial inflammation and bone erosions. The cellular mechanism that links MSU crystals to an increased number of osteoclasts has not yet been fully understood. In a recent issue of Arthritis Research & Therapy Lee and colleagues proposed that bone destruction in chronic gouty arthritis is at least in part dependent on expression by T cells of receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL). The authors showed that pro-resorptive cytokines such as IL-1β, IL-6, and TNFα are expressed within tophi and stromal infiltrates. In vitro stimulation with MSU crystals revealed monocytes as a source for these cytokines, whereas T cells produce RANKL, the major trigger of osteoclastogenesis.
Autoimmunity is complicated by bone loss. In human rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the most severe inflammatory joint disease, autoantibodies against citrullinated proteins are among the strongest risk factors for bone destruction. We therefore hypothesized that these autoantibodies directly influence bone metabolism. Here, we found a strong and specific association between autoantibodies against citrullinated proteins and serum markers for osteoclast-mediated bone resorption in RA patients. Moreover, human osteoclasts expressed enzymes eliciting protein citrullination, and specific N-terminal citrullination of vimentin was induced during osteoclast differentiation. Affinity-purified human autoantibodies against mutated citrullinated vimentin (MCV) not only bound to osteoclast surfaces, but also led to robust induction of osteoclastogenesis and bone-resorptive activity. Adoptive transfer of purified human MCV autoantibodies into mice induced osteopenia and increased osteoclastogenesis. This effect was based on the inducible release of TNF-α from osteoclast precursors and the subsequent increase of osteoclast precursor cell numbers with enhanced expression of activation and growth factor receptors. Our data thus suggest that autoantibody formation in response to citrullinated vimentin directly induces bone loss, providing a link between the adaptive immune system and bone.