Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) experience excess cardiovascular disease (CVD). We investigated the effects of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARD) and dietary intervention on CVD risk in inflammatory arthritis. Twenty-two patients (17 women; 15 with RA and seven with spondyloarthropathy) who were insulin resistant (n = 20), as determined by the Homeostasis Model Assessment, and/or were dyslipidemic (n = 11) were identified. During the third month after initiation of DMARD therapy, body weight, C-reactive protein (CRP), insulin resistance, and lipids were re-evaluated. Results are expressed as median (interquartile range). DMARD therapy together with dietary intervention was associated with weight loss of 4 kg (0–6.5 kg), a decrease in CRP of 14% (6–36%; P < 0.006), and a reduction in insulin resistance of 36% (26–61%; P < 0.006). Diet compliers (n = 15) experienced decreases of 10% (0–20%) and 3% (0–9%) in total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, respectively, as compared with increases of 9% (6–20%; P < 0.05) and 3% (0–9%; P < 0.05) in diet noncompliers. Patients on methotrexate (n = 14) experienced a reduction in CRP of 27 mg/l (6–83 mg/l), as compared with a decrease of 10 mg/l (3.4–13 mg/l; P = 0.04) in patients not on methotrexate. Improved cardiovascular risk with DMARD therapy includes a reduction in insulin resistance. Methotrexate use in RA may improve CVD risk through a marked suppression of the acute phase response. Dietary intervention prevented the increase in total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol upon acute phase response suppression.
cardiovascular risk; diet; DMARD; inflammatory arthritis
To examine whether the lack of sufficient neoangiogenesis in systemic sclerosis (SSc) is caused by a decrease in angiogenic factors and/or an increase in angiostatic factors, the potent proangiogenic molecules vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and basic fibroblast growth factor, and the angiostatic factor endostatin were determined in patients with SSc and in healthy controls. Forty-three patients with established SSc and nine patients with pre-SSc were included in the study. Serum levels of VEGF, basic fibroblast growth factor and endostatin were measured by ELISA. Age-matched and sex-matched healthy volunteers were used as controls. Highly significant differences were found in serum levels of VEGF between SSc patients and healthy controls, whereas no differences could be detected for endostatin and basic fibroblast growth factor. Significantly higher levels of VEGF were detected in patients with Scl-70 autoantibodies and in patients with diffuse SSc. Patients with pre-SSc and short disease duration showed significant higher levels of VEGF than healthy controls, indicating that elevated serum levels of VEGF are a feature of the earliest disease stages. Patients without fingertip ulcers were found to have higher levels of VEGF than patients with fingertip ulcers. Levels of endostatin were associated with the presence of giant capillaries in nailfold capillaroscopy, but not with any other clinical parameter. The results show that the concentration of VEGF is already increased in the serum of SSc patients at the earliest stages of the disease. VEGF appears to be protective against ischemic manifestations when concentrations of VEGF exceed a certain threshold level.
basic fibroblast growth factor; endostatin; fingertip ulcers; systemic sclerosis; vascular endothelial growth factor
Nurse-like stromal cell lines from the synovial tissue of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA-SNC) produce, on coculture with lymphocytes, large amounts of proinflammatory cytokines. In the present paper, we analyze the molecular events necessary for the induction of cytokine release from RA-SNC cells, and particularly the roles played by cell adhesion and the transmigration (also known as pseudoemperipolesis) of lymphocytes. For this purpose, the effects of various mAbs on the binding and transmigration of a human B-cell line, MC/car, were examined using a cloned RA-SNC line, RA-SNC77. To analyze the role of lymphocyte binding and transmigration on upregulated cytokine production by the RA-SNC77 cells, we used C3 exoenzyme-treated MC/car cells, which could bind to RA-SNC77 cells but could not transmigrate. Treatment with anti-CD29 or anti-CD49d mAb significantly reduced binding and transmigration of the MC/car cells. In contrast, the neutralizing anti-CD106/vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 mAb did not show any inhibitory effect. Likewise, none of the neutralizing mAbs against CD11a, CD18, CD44, CD49e, or CD54 showed significant effects. Binding of C3-treated or untreated MC/car cells to RA-SNC77 cells induced comparable levels of IL-6 and IL-8 production. In addition, the enhanced cytokine production by RA-SNC77 cells required direct lymphocyte contact via a very late antigen-4 (VLA-4)-independent adhesion pathway. These results indicate that, although both the VLA-4-dependent/vascular cell adhesion molecule 1-independent and the VLA4-independent adhesion pathways are involved in MC/car binding and subsequent transmigration, only the VLA4-independent adhesion pathway is necessary and sufficient for the enhanced proinflammatory cytokine production by RA-SNC77 cells. The transmigration process, which is dependent on Rho-GTPase, is not a prerequisite for this phenomenon.
cell adhesion; cytokine production; nurse cells; rheumatoid arthritis; transmigration
Interleukin (IL)-12, being a major cytokine that induces T helper (Th) 1 differentiation and inflammatory response, has been postulated to be an important mediator of synovial inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, the regulation of IL-12 production in RA has not been elucidated. Our knowledge is mainly based on studies of the production of IL-12p40 and not the functional IL-12p70 heterodimer. We have studied the CD154-induced IL-12p40 and IL-12p70 production by synovial fluid (SF) macrophages from patients with RA. CD40 ligation induced the secretion of IL-12p40 but not IL-12p70. The observed increase in IL-10 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α production indicated that SF macrophages responded to CD40 ligation. The expression of p40 mRNA was increased significantly and remained upregulated after CD40 ligation, whereas the increase of p35 transcript expression was observed only transiently and at a lower level. We further observed that dendritic cells (DCs) derived in vitro from SF macrophages produced IL-12p70. Most importantly, IL-4 and IL-13 primed SF macrophages to produce IL-12p70, whereas IFN-γ was not observed to activate IL-12p70 production in these cells, in contrast with normal peripheral blood monocytes. These results provide novel information about the regulation of IL-12p70 production and the function of the cytokine network in RA.
CD40; cytokines; IL-12; rheumatoid arthritis
The aim of this study was to explore the molecular profile of proliferating rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts (RA-SF). Total RNA was extracted from two cultures of RA-SF (low-density [LD] proliferating cells and high-density [HD] nonproliferating cells) and suppression subtractive hybridization was performed to compare differential gene expression of these two cultures. Subtracted cDNA was subcloned, and nucleotide sequences were analyzed to identify each clone. Differential expression of distinct clones was confirmed by semiquantitative RT-PCR. The expression of certain genes in synovial tissues was examined by in situ hybridization. In both LD and HD cells, 44 clones were upregulated. Of the 88 total clones, 46 were identical to sequences that have previously been characterized. Twenty-nine clones were identical to cDNAs that have been identified, but with unknown functions so far, and 13 clones did not show any significant homology to sequences in GenBank (NCBI). Differential expression of distinct clones was confirmed by RT-PCR. In situ hybridization showed that certain genes, such as S100A4, NFAT5, unr and Fbx3, were also expressed predominantly in synovial tissues from patients with RA but not from normal individuals. The expression of distinct genes in proliferating RA-SF could also be found in RA synovium, suggesting that these molecules are involved in synovial activation in RA. Most importantly, the data indicate that the expression of certain genes in RA-SF depends on the stage of proliferation; therefore, the stage needs to be considered in any analysis of differential gene expression in SF.
differential gene expression; molecular profile; proliferation; rheumatoid arthritis; synovial fibroblasts
T-cell responses to antigens are classified on the basis of the cytokines they produce as either Th1 (IFN-γ, IL-2) or Th2 (IL-4, IL-10), with these Th types being indicative of either cell-mediated or antibody-mediated responses, respectively. Using this classification, T-cell responses in MHC-class-II-restricted autoimmune diseases appear to be predominantly of the Th1 type, based on the presence of high levels of IFN-γ. This simplistic classification has recently been challenged, however, as disease incidence and severity are frequently elevated in animals that have a deficient IFN-γ response. The recent data discussed here indicate that the cytokine circuits involved in the regulation of cell-mediated and humoral immune responses during the development of autoimmune arthritis are more complex than originally proposed; perhaps our characterization of autoimmune responses as strictly Th1 or Th2 is overly simplistic, especially as it pertains to the role of IFN-γ.
arthritis; autoimmunity; cytokines; IFN-γ
Anti-tumor-necrosis-factor-α (TNF-α) monoclonal antibody was used to treat Tg197 transgenic mice, which constitutively produce human TNF-α (hTNF-α) and develop a progressive polyarthritic disease. Treatment of both young (7- or 8-week-old) and aged (27- or 28-week-old) mice commenced when at least two limbs showed signs of moderate to severe arthritis. The therapeutic efficacy of anti-TNF-α antibody was assessed using various pathological indicators of disease progression. The clinical severity of arthritis in Tg197 mice was significantly reduced after anti-TNF-α treatment in comparison with saline-treated mice and in comparison with baseline assessments in both young and aged mice. The treatment with anti-TNF-α prevented loss of body weight. Inflammatory pathways as reflected by elevated circulating hTNF-α and local expression of various proinflammatory mediators were all diminished by anti-TNF-α treatment, confirming a critical role of hTNF-α in this model of progressive polyarthritis. More importantly, the amelioration of the disease was associated with reversal of existing structural damage, including synovitis and periosteal bone erosions evident on histology. Repair of cartilage was age dependent: reversal of cartilage degradation after anti-TNF-α treatment was observed in young mice but not in aged mice.
antibody; animal models; cytokines; rheumatoid arthritis; tumor necrosis factor alpha
To confirm an association between cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection and the presence of antibodies to Smith (Sm), to ribonucleoprotein (RNP), and to a component of the U1 ribonucleoproteins (U1-70 kD), we measured antibodies to these protein antigens using an enzyme immunoassay and an immunoblot. The antibodies were measured in the sera of 80 healthy subjects, one-half of whom were naturally CMV seropositive and one-half were CMV seronegative, and in eight subjects immunized with a live attenuated strain of CMV. None of the vaccinees developed antibodies to Sm, to RNP, or to U1-70 kD at either 4 or 12 months after immunization. Additionally, there was no statistically significant association between levels of antibodies to Sm or to RNP and between sera obtained from vaccinees, natural CMV seropositive individuals, and CMV seronegative individuals. One CMV seropositive serum and one CMV seronegative serum tested positive for antibodies to U1-70 kD. These data indicate that neither wild-type infection nor the live-attenuated Towne vaccine frequently induce autoantibody production.
autoantibodies; cytomegalovirus; RNP antigen; Sm antigen; U1-70kD
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients experience a markedly increased frequency of cardiovascular disease. We evaluated cardiovascular risk profiles in 79 RA patients and in 39 age-matched and sex-matched osteoarthritis (OA) patients. Laboratory tests comprised ultrasensitive C-reactive protein (CRP) and fasting lipids. Insulin sensitivity (IS) was determined by the Quantitative Insulin Sensitivity Check Index (QUICKI) in all OA patients and in 39 of the RA patients. Ten RA patients were on glucocorticoids. RA patients exercised more frequently than OA patients (χ2 = 3.9, P < 0.05). Nine RA patients and one OA patient had diabetes (χ2 = 4.5, P < 0.05). The median CRP, the mean QUICKI and the mean high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol were 9 mg/l (range, 0.5–395 mg/l), 0.344 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.332–0.355) and 1.40 mmol/l (95% CI, 1.30–1.49 mmol/l) in RA patients, respectively, as compared with 2.7 mg/l (range, 0.3–15.9 mg/l), 0.369 (95% CI, 0.356–0.383) and 1.68 mmol/l (95% CI, 1.50–1.85 mmol/l) in OA patients. Each of these differences was significant (P < 0.05). After controlling for the CRP, the QUICKI was similar in RA and OA patients (P = 0.07), while the differences in HDL cholesterol were attenuated but still significant (P = 0.03). The CRP correlated with IS, while IS was associated with high HDL cholesterol and low triglycerides in RA patients and not in OA patients. A high CRP (≥ 8 mg/l) was associated with hypertension (χ2 = 7.4, P < 0.05) in RA patients. RA glucocorticoid and nonglucocorticoid users did not differ in IS and lipids (P > 0.05). Excess cardiovascular risk in RA patients as compared with OA patients includes the presence of decreased IS and HDL cholesterol in RA patients. The latter is only partially attributable to the acute phase response. The CRP, IS, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides and hypertension are inter-related in RA patients, whereas none of these relationships were found in OA patients.
cardiovascular risk; osteoarthritis; rheumatoid arthritis
Patients with Sjögren's syndrome (SS) have characteristic lymphocytic infiltrates of the salivary glands. To determine whether the B cells accumulating in the salivary glands of SS patients represent a distinct population and to delineate their potential immunopathologic impact, individual B cells obtained from the parotid gland and from the peripheral blood were analyzed for immunglobulin light chain gene rearrangements by PCR amplification of genomic DNA. The productive immunglobulin light chain repertoire in the parotid gland of the SS patient was found to be restricted, showing a preferential usage of particular variable lambda chain genes (Vλ2E) and variable kappa chain genes (VκA27). Moreover, clonally related VL chain rearrangements were identified; namely, VκA27–Jκ5 and VκA19–Jκ2 in the parotid gland, and Vλ1C–Jλ3 in the parotid gland and the peripheral blood. Vκ and Vλ rearrangements from the parotid gland exhibited a significantly elevated mutational frequency compared with those from the peripheral blood (P < 0.001). Mutational analysis revealed a pattern of somatic hypermutation similar to that found in normal donors, and a comparable impact of selection of mutated rearrangements in both the peripheral blood and the parotid gland. These data indicate that there is biased usage of VL chain genes caused by selection and clonal expansion of B cells expressing particular VL genes. In addition, the data document an accumulation of B cells bearing mutated VL gene rearrangements within the parotid gland of the SS patient. These results suggest a role of antigen-activated and selected B cells in the local autoimmune process in SS.
B cells; parotid gland; Sjögren's syndrome; somatic mutation; V light chain genes
Anti-Golgi complex autoantibodies are found primarily in patients with Sjögren's syndrome and systemic lupus erythematosus, although they are not restricted to these diseases. Several Golgi autoantigens have been identified that represent a small family of proteins. Common features of all Golgi autoantigens appear to be their distinct structural organization of multiple α-helical coiled-coil rods in the central domains flanked by non-coiled-coil N-termini and C-termini, and their localization to the cytoplasmic face of Golgi cisternae. Many autoantigens in systemic autoimmune diseases have distinct cleavage products in apoptosis or necrosis and this has raised the possibility that cell death may play a role in the generation of potentially immunostimulatory forms of autoantigens. In the present study, we examined changes in the Golgi complex and associated autoantigens during apoptosis and necrosis. Immunofluorescence analysis showed that the Golgi complex was altered and developed distinctive characteristics during apoptosis and necrosis. In addition, immunoblotting analysis showed the generation of antigenic fragments of each Golgi autoantigen, suggesting that they may play a role in sustaining autoantibody production. Further studies are needed to determine whether the differences observed in the Golgi complex during apoptosis or necrosis may account for the production of anti-Golgi complex autoantibodies.
anti-Golgi complex antibody; autoantibody; autoimmunity; cell death
Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) is an inflammatory cytokine that has been implicated in a variety of rheumatic and inflammatory diseases. New understanding of the importance of TNF-α in the pathophysiology of rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease led to the development of a new class of targeted anti-TNF therapies. Anti-TNF-α agents including etanercept (a fusion protein of the p75 TNF receptor and IgG1) and infliximab (a chimeric monoclonal antibody specific for TNF-α) have been approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, infliximab has been approved in the treatment of patients with active or fistulating Crohn's disease. A new appreciation of the importance of TNF-α in other rheumatic and inflammatory diseases has led to a broadening of the application of anti-TNF agents. Both etanercept and infliximab have been used in open-label and randomized studies in patients with psoriatic arthritis. Although larger randomized trials are needed to confirm early results, both these anti-TNF-α agents, etanercept and infliximab, have demonstrated activity in improving the signs and symptoms of psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis. Infliximab has also been shown to be effective in patients with other rheumatic diseases, including ankylosing spondylitis, and may be effective in adult-onset Still's disease, polymyositis, and Behçet's disease. Further investigations will fully elucidate the role of infliximab in these and other rheumatic diseases.
anti-tumor necrosis factor; cytokine; infliximab; rheumatic disease; tumor necrosis factor
We have recently found that matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are targets for T-cell and B-cell reactivity in experimental arthritis. In the present article, we investigate whether modulation of MMP-specific T-cell responses could influence the course of adjuvant arthritis (AA). Lewis rats were treated nasally with MMP peptides prior to or after AA induction. Administration of the MMP-10 or the MMP-16 peptide prior to AA induction reduced the arthritic symptoms. In contrast, administration of the MMP-10 peptide after AA induction aggravated the arthritic symptoms. The present study shows the possible usefulness of MMP peptides for immunotherapy. However, a clear understanding of proper timing of peptide administration is crucial for the development of such therapies.
adjuvant arthritis; immunotherapy; matrix metalloproteinase; nasal treatment; peptides
The influence of HLA DRB1 alleles on B-cell homeostasis was analyzed in 164 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The percentages of CD19+ B lymphocytes determined in the peripheral circulation of 94 retrospectively recruited RA patients followed a bimodal distribution. Two frequency peaks (B-celllow patients and B-cellhigh patients) were separated by the population median of a B-cell frequency of 8.5% of all lymphocytes. Human leucocyte antigen genotyping revealed that the B-celllow patients were more frequently positive for the RA-associated HLA DRB1 shared epitope (SE) than were B-cellhigh patients. Accordingly, SE-positive patients had lower CD19 percentages in the rank-sum analysis when compared with SE-negative patients, and were markedly B lymphocytopenic when compared with a healthy control group. To confirm the differential frequencies of CD19+ B cells, absolute numbers in peripheral blood were determined prospectively in a cohort of 70 RA patients with recent onset disease. SE-positive patients were found to have lower absolute numbers of circulating CD19+ B cells. B-cell counts below the mean of the study population were associated with higher acute phase response and with increased levels of rheumatoid factor IgA. No correlation between absolute numbers of circulating B cells and radiographic progression of joint destruction was seen. The influence of immunogenetic parameters on B-cell homeostasis in RA reported here has not been described previously. The clinical relevance of B lymphocytopenia in SE-positive RA will be further investigated in longitudinal studies.
antibodies; B lymphocytes; major histocompatibility complex; rheumatoid arthritis
Autoantibodies are proven useful diagnostic tools for a variety of rheumatic and non-rheumatic autoimmune disorders. However, a highly specific marker autoantibody for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has not yet been determined. The presence of rheumatoid factors is currently used as a marker for RA. However, rheumatoid factors have modest specificity (~70%) for the disease. In recent years, several newly characterized autoantibodies have become promising candidates as diagnostic indicators for RA. Antikeratin, anticitrullinated peptides, anti-RA33, anti-Sa, and anti-p68 autoantibodies have been shown to have >90% specificity for RA. These autoantibodies are reviewed and the potential role of the autoantibodies in the pathogenesis of RA is briefly discussed.
autoantibodies; diagnostic factors; pathogenesis; rheumatoid arthritis
Early diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) combined with early initiation of an appropriate treatment regimen is acknowledged as an important factor in improving clinical outcomes in patients with RA. Early diagnosis allows treatment intervention to occur sooner in order to inhibit the progression of structural joint damage as well as providing improved patient quality of life. Unfortunately, early diagnosis has been challenging due to the non-specific signs and symptoms associated with many polyarthropathies and the lack of accurate definitive diagnostic tests that can accurately classify RA at presentation. The emphasis on early diagnosis has fueled the need for powerful, sensitive, non-invasive imaging techniques that not only accurately define RA and give an indication of prognosis, but can also serve as a tool to monitor long-term treatment outcomes. This article reviews the potential uses of magnetic resonance imaging as a tool for the classification, documentation, and clinical monitoring of RA.
bone erosion; magnetic resonance imaging; radiography; rheumatoid arthritis; synovitis
Although functional outcome is frequently discussed and written about, it is often not clear what functional outcome is and how it can be measured. This paper introduces the concept of latent and observed measures of functional disability, and distinguishes between disability as a process measure and disability as an outcome measure. Using the Health Assessment Questionnaire as the main functional outcome measure in rheumatoid arthritis, we propose and discuss several methods for determining disability, and describe the implications of altering the disability course.
disability; functional disability; Health Assessment Questionnaire; outcome; rheumatoid arthritis
Interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) is a natural IL-1 inhibitor possessing anti-inflammatory properties. IL-1Ra is produced as different isoforms, one secreted (sIL-1Ra) and three intracellular (icIL-1Ra1, icIL-1Ra2 and icIL-1Ra3), derived from the same gene. We examined the production of IL-1Ra species by cultured human articular chondrocytes in response to various cytokines. The levels of IL-1Ra were undetectable in culture supernatants of untreated cells, but were significantly increased by IL-1β. Cell lysates contained very low levels of IL-1Ra, even in response to IL-1β, suggesting that chondrocytes produce predominantly sIL-1Ra. IL-6, which had no effect on its own, enhanced the effect of IL-1β, while dexamethasone prevented the response. We observed by RT-PCR that IL-1β and IL-6 induced primarily the production of sIL-1Ra mRNA. Furthermore, IL-1β alone or combined with IL-6 increased the levels of nascent unspliced sIL-1Ra mRNA, suggesting that sIL-1Ra expression is regulated at the transcriptional level. Reporter gene assays in immortalized chondrocytes, C-20/A4, consistently showed increased sIL-1Ra promoter activity in response to IL-1β and IL-6. In conclusion, human articular chondrocytes produce sIL-1Ra in response to IL-1β and IL-6. The production of sIL-1Ra by chondrocytes may have a protective effect against articular inflammatory and catabolic responses.
cytokines; glucocorticoids; human articular chondrocytes; IL-1 receptor antagonist
With the introduction of new disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and other therapeutic agents, the management of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has shifted toward earlier, more aggressive therapy. The ultimate goal is to prevent structural joint damage that leads to pain and functional disability. Early diagnosis of RA is therefore essential, and early DMARD treatment combined with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is recommended. Combination DMARD regimens and new biologic agents (anti-tumor necrosis factor [TNF] therapies [infliximab, etanercept] and the interleukin [IL]-1 antagonist [anakinra]) have emerged as viable options for early treatment of RA patients. These new biologic agents and future nonbiologic agents that target proteins in signaling cascades are likely to change the landscape of RA treatments.
rheumatoid arthritis; disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs; emerging therapies; infliximab
Since the initial characterization of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα), it has become clear that TNFα has diverse biologic activity. The realization that TNFα plays a role in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has led to the development of anti-TNF agents for the treatment of RA. Infliximab, a chimeric monoclonal antibody that specifically, and with high affinity, binds to TNFα and neutralizes the cytokine, is currently approved for the treatment of RA and Crohn's disease, another immune-inflammatory disorder. In addition to establishing the safety and efficacy of infliximab, clinical research has also provided insights into the complex cellular and cytokine-dependent pathways involved in the pathophysiology of RA, including evidence that supports TNFα involvement in cytokine regulation, cell recruitment, angiogenesis, and tissue destruction.
infliximab; rheumatoid arthritis; signaling pathways; tumor necrosis factor
Several agents show an effect on reducing radiographic progression in rheumatoid arthritis. It is tempting to retrospectively compare the effects of these agents on radiographic progression across clinical trials. However, there are several limitations in interpreting and comparing radiographic results across clinical trials. These limitations, including study designs, patient characteristics, durations of follow-up, scoring methodologies, reader reliability, radiograph sequence, handling of missing data, and data presentation, will be discussed. The consequences are illustrated with several examples of recent clinical trials that show an effect on radiographic progression. A guide in the interpretation and clinical relevance of radiographic results is presented, with the Anti-TNF Trial in Rheumatoid Arthritis with Concomitant Therapy used as an example.
radiography; infliximab; etanercept; leflunomide; methotrexate
Proteinase-3 (PR-3) is a neutral serine proteinase present in azurophil granules of human polymorphonuclear leukocytes and serves as the major target antigen of antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies with a cytoplasmic staining pattern (c-ANCA) in Wegener's granulomatosis (WG). The WG disease appears as severe vasculitis in different organs (e.g. kidney, nose and lung). Little is known about the expression and distribution of PR-3 in the lung. We found that PR-3 is expressed in normal lung tissue and is upregulated in lung tissue of patients with WG. Interestingly, the parenchymal cells (pneumocytes type I and II) and macrophages, and not the neutrophils, express PR-3 most strongly and may contribute to lung damage in patients with WG via direct interaction with antineutrophil cytoplasmic antobodies (ANCA). These findings suggest that the PR-3 expression in parenchymal cells of lung tissue could be at least one missing link in the etiopathogenesis of pulmonary pathology in ANCA-associated disease.
granuloma; in situ hybridization; pneumocytes; proteinase-3; Wegener's granulomatosis
Regulatory T cells prevent autoimmunity by suppressing the reactivity of potentially aggressive self-reactive T cells. Contact-dependent CD4+ CD25+ 'professional' suppressor cells and other cytokine-producing CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell subsets mediate this protective function. Evidence will be reviewed that T cells primed with transforming growth factor (TGF)-β expand rapidly following restimulation. Certain CD4+ T cells become contact-dependent suppressor cells and other CD4+ and CD8+ cells become cytokine-producing regulatory cells. This effect is dependent upon a sufficient amount of IL-2 in the microenvironment to overcome the suppressive effects of TGF-β. The adoptive transfer of these suppressor cells generated ex vivo can protect mice from developing chronic graft-versus-host disease with a lupus-like syndrome and alter the course of established disease. These data suggest that autologous T cells primed and expanded with TGF-β have the potential to be used as a therapy for patients with systemic lupus erythematosus and other chronic inflammatory diseases. This novel adoptive immunotherapy also has the potential to prevent the rejection of allogeneic transplants.
autoimmunity; IL-2; regulatory T cells; systemic lupus erythematosus; transforming growth factor-β