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1.  Type II collagen antibody response is enriched in the synovial fluid of rheumatoid joints and directed to the same major epitopes as in collagen induced arthritis in primates and mice 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2014;16(4):R143.
Introduction
Antibodies towards type II collagen (CII) are detected in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and in non-human primates and rodents with collagen induced arthritis (CIA). We have previously shown that antibodies specific for several CII-epitopes are pathogenic using monoclonal antibodies from arthritic mice, although the role of different anti-CII epitopes has not been investigated in detail in other species. We therefore performed an inter-species comparative study of the autoantibody response to CII in patients with RA versus monkeys and mice with CIA.
Methods
Analysis of the full epitope repertoire along the disease course of CIA was performed using a library of CII triple-helical peptides. The antibody responses to the major CII epitopes were analyzed in sera and synovial fluid from RA patients, and in sera from rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta), common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) and mice.
Results
Many CII epitopes including the major C1, U1, and J1 were associated with established CIA and arginine residues played an important role in the anti-CII antibody interactions. The major epitopes were also recognized in RA patients, both in sera and even more pronounced in synovial fluid: 77% of the patients had antibodies to the U1 epitope. The anti-CII immune response was not restricted to the anti-citrulline protein antibodies (ACPA) positive RA group.
Conclusion
CII conformational dependent antibody responses are common in RA and are likely to originate from rheumatoid joints but did not show a correlation with ACPA response. Importantly, the fine specificity of the anti-CII response is similar with CIA in monkeys and rodents where the recognized epitopes are conserved and have a major pathogenic role. Thus, anti-CII antibodies may both contribute to, as well as be the consequence of, local joint inflammation.
doi:10.1186/ar4605
PMCID: PMC4226996  PMID: 25005029
2.  Comparative analysis of collagen type II-specific immune responses during development of collagen-induced arthritis in two B10 mouse strains 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(6):R237.
Introduction
Immune responses against collagen type II (CII) are crucial for the development of collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). The aim of the present study was to evaluate and compare the CII-directed T cell and antibody specificity at different time points in the course of CIA using two mouse strains on the B10 genetic background - B10.Q, expressing Aq MHC class II molecules, and B10.DR4.Ncf1*/*, expressing human rheumatoid arthritis-associated MHC II DR4 molecules (DRA*0101/DRB*0401).
Methods
B10.Q and B10.DR4.Ncf1*/* mice were immunized with CII emulsified in adjuvant and development of CIA was assessed. T cells from draining lymph nodes were restimulated in vitro with CII peptides and interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) levels in culture supernatants were evaluated by ELISA. CII-specific antibody levels in serum samples were measured by ELISA.
Results
At four different CIA time points we analyzed T cell specificity to the immunodominant CII epitope 259-273 (CII259-273) and several posttranslationally modified forms of CII259-273 as well as antibody responses to three B cell immunodominant epitopes on CII (C1, U1, J1). Our data show that CII-specific T and B cell responses increase dramatically after disease onset in both strains and are sustained during the disease course. Concerning anti-CII antibody fine specificity, during all investigated stages of CIA the B10.Q mice responded predominantly to the C1 epitope, whereas the B10.DR4.Ncf1*/* mice also recognized the U1 epitope. In the established disease phase, T cell reactivity toward the galactosylated CII259-273 peptide was similar between the DR4- and the Aq-expressing strains whereas the response to the non-modified CII peptide was dramatically enhanced in the DR4 mice compared with the B10.Q. In addition, we show that the difference in the transgenic DR4-restricted T cell specificity to CII259-273 is not dependent on the degree of glycosylation of the collagen used for immunization.
Conclusions
The present study provides important evaluation of CII-specific immune responses at different phases during CIA development as well as a comparative analysis between two CIA mouse models. We indicate significant differences in CII T cell and antibody specificities between the two strains and highlight a need for improved humanized B10.DR4 mouse model for rheumatoid arthritis.
doi:10.1186/ar4080
PMCID: PMC3674594  PMID: 23116329
3.  Validation of a multiplex chip-based assay for the detection of autoantibodies against citrullinated peptides 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(5):R201.
Introduction
Autoantibodies directed against citrullinated proteins/peptides (ACPAs) are highly specific and predictive for the development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Different subgroups of RA patients, which have different prognoses and may require different treatments, are characterized by different autoantibody profiles. The objective of this study was to develop a microarray for the detection of multiple RA-associated autoantibodies, initially focusing on responses against citrullinated epitopes on candidate autoantigens in RA.
Methods
The microarray is based on Phadia's ImmunoCAP ISAC system, with which reactivity to more than 100 antigens can be analyzed simultaneously, by using minute serum volumes (< 10 μl). Twelve citrullinated peptides, and the corresponding native arginine-containing control peptides, were immobilized in an arrayed fashion onto a chemically modified glass slide, allowing a three-dimensional layer with high binding capacity. The assay was optimized concerning serum dilution and glass surface, whereas each individual antigen was optimized concerning coupling chemistry, antigen concentration, and selection of spotting buffer. The performance of each peptide in the ImmunoCAP ISAC system was compared with the performance in enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs). Serum from 927 RA patients and 461 healthy controls from a matched case-control study were applied onto reaction sites on glass slides, followed by fluorescent-labeled anti-human immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody. Fluorescence intensities were detected with a laser scanner, and the results analyzed by using image-analysis software.
Results
Strong correlations between the ImmunoCAP ISAC system and ELISA results were found for individual citrullinated peptides (Spearman ρ typically between 0.75 and 0.90). Reactivity of RA sera with the peptides was seen mainly in the anticyclic citrullinated peptide 2 (CCP2)-positive subset, but some additional reactivity with single citrullinated peptides was seen in the anti-CCP2-negative subset. Adjusting for reactivity against arginine-containing control peptides did not uniformly change the diagnostic performance for antibodies against the individual citrullinated peptides.
Conclusions
The multiplexed array, for detection of autoantibodies against multiple citrullinated epitopes on candidate RA autoantigens, will be of benefit in studies of RA pathogenesis, diagnosis, and potentially as a guide to individualized treatment.
doi:10.1186/ar4039
PMCID: PMC3580513  PMID: 23025688
4.  Cartilage oligomeric matrix protein specific antibodies are pathogenic 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(4):R191.
Introduction
Cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP) is a major non-collagenous component of cartilage. Earlier, we developed a new mouse model for rheumatoid arthritis using COMP. This study was undertaken to investigate the epitope specificity and immunopathogenicity of COMP-specific monoclonal antibodies (mAbs).
Methods
B cell immunodominant regions on the COMP molecule were measured with a novel enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay using mammalian expressed full-length mouse COMP as well as a panel of recombinant mouse COMP fragments. 18 mAbs specific to COMP were generated and the pathogenicity of mAbs was investigated by passive transfer experiments.
Results
B cell immunodominant epitopes were localized within 4 antigenic domains of the COMP but with preferential response to the epidermal growth factor (EGF)-like domain. Some of our anti-COMP mAbs showed interactions with the native form of COMP, which is present in cartilage and synovium. Passive transfer of COMP-specific mAbs enhanced arthritis when co-administrated with a sub-arthritogenic dose of a mAb specific to collagen type II. Interestingly, we found that a combination of 5 COMP mAbs was capable of inducing arthritis in naive mice.
Conclusions
We have identified the specificities of mAbs to COMP and their contribution to the development of arthritis. These findings will further improve our understanding of the autoantibody mediated immunopathologies occurring widely in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), as well as in other autoimmune disorders.
doi:10.1186/ar4022
PMCID: PMC3580587  PMID: 22906101
5.  Increased susceptibility to collagen-induced arthritis in female mice carrying congenic Cia40/Pregq2 fragments 
Introduction
Collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) in mice is a commonly used experimental model for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We have previously identified a significant quantitative trait locus denoted Cia40 on chromosome 11 that affects CIA in older female mice. This locus colocalizes with another locus, denoted Pregq2, known to affect reproductive success. The present study was performed to evaluate the role of the Cia40 locus in congenic B10.Q mice and to identify possible polymorphic candidate genes, which may also be relevant in the context of RA.
Methods
Congenic B10.Q mice carrying an NFR/N fragment surrounding the Cia40/Pregq2 loci were created by 10 generations of backcrossing (N10). The congenic mice were investigated in the CIA model, and the incidence and severity of arthritis as well as the serum levels of anti-collagen II (CII) antibodies were recorded.
Results
Significant effects on onset, incidence, severity, and anti-CII antibody titers were observed in female mice carrying a heterozygous congenic Cia40/Pregq2 fragment of NFR/N origin, containing one or more polymorphic genes. Congenic male mice did not show increased incidence of CIA, but males carrying a heterozygous fragment showed a significant increase in severity in comparison with wildtype B10.Q males (littermates).
Conclusion
The Cia40/Pregq2 locus at chromosome 11 contains one or more polymorphic genes of NFR/N origin that significantly influence both incidence and severity of CIA in heterozygous congenic mice of the B10.Q strain. The major polymorphic candidate genes for the effects on CIA are Cd79b, Abca8a, and Map2k6. The congenic fragment also contains polymorphic genes that affect reproductive behavior and reproductive success. The Sox9 gene, known to influence sex reversal, is a candidate gene for the reproductive phenotype.
doi:10.1186/ar2470
PMCID: PMC2575638  PMID: 18684326
6.  Associations of antibodies against citrullinated peptides with human leukocyte antigen-shared epitope and smoking prior to the development of rheumatoid arthritis 
Introduction
It has previously been shown that an increased number of antibodies against citrullinated peptides/proteins (ACPA) predate the onset of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Over time antibody positivity expands, involving more specific responses when approaching the onset of symptoms. We investigated the impact of human leukocyte antigen-shared epitope (HLA-SE) alleles and smoking on the development of ACPA, as well as in combination with ACPA during the state of quiescent autoimmunity (before the onset of symptoms), on the development of RA.
Methods
Blood samples donated to the Medical Biobank of Northern Sweden from individuals prior to the onset of symptoms of RA (n = 370) and after onset (n = 203) and from population-based controls (n = 585) were used. Antibodies against 10 citrullinated peptides, fibrinogen (Fibα561-583, α580-600, ß62-81a, ß62-81b, ß36-52), vimentin (Vim2-17, 60-75), filaggrin (CCP-1/Fil307-324), α-enolase (CEP-1/Eno5-21), collagen type II (citC1359-369), and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (CCP)2 antibodies were analysed.
Results
HLA-SE-positive individuals were more frequently positive for ACPA compared with HLA-SE-negative individuals prior to the onset of symptoms of RA, particularly for antibodies against CEP-1 and Fibß62-81a (72). Smoking was associated with antibodies against Vim2-17 and citC1359-369. HLA-SE and smoking showed increasing association to the presence of the antibodies closer to disease onset. The highest odds ratio (OR) for development of RA was for the combination of HLA-SE alleles and ACPA positivity, especially for antibodies against Fibß62-81b, CCP-1/Fil307-324, and Fibβ36-52. A gene-environment additive interaction between smoking and HLA-SE alleles for the risk of disease development was found, with the highest OR for individuals positive for antibodies against Fibβ36-52, CEP-1, and Fibα580-600.
Conclusions
The relationships between antibodies against the different ACPA specificities, HLA-SE, and smoking showed a variable pattern in individuals prior to the onset of RA. The combination of smoking and HLA-SE alleles was significantly associated with the development of some of the antibody specificities closer to onset of symptoms, and these associations remained significant at diagnosis. An additive gene-environment interaction was found for several of the antibodies for the development of RA.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13075-015-0638-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s13075-015-0638-x
PMCID: PMC4438519  PMID: 25990747
7.  Anti-carbamylated protein antibodies in the pre-symptomatic phase of rheumatoid arthritis, their relationship with multiple anti-citrulline peptide antibodies and association with radiological damage 
Introduction
The presence of a new autoantibody system, anti-carbamylated protein (anti-CarP) antibodies, has been identified in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The presence of anti-CarP antibodies was evaluated in samples taken from individuals who subsequently developed RA before and after onset of symptoms and related to previously analysed antibodies against citrullinated peptides (ACPA specificities) and anti-CCP2.
Methods
A total of 252 individuals, with 423 samples from before onset of symptoms of RA, and 197 population controls were identified as donors to the Medical Biobank of Northern Sweden; 192 of them were also sampled at the time of diagnosis. All samples were analysed for anti-CarP IgG and anti-CCP2 antibodies using ELISAs. Ten different antibody reactivities against citrullinated antigens (ACPA specificities) were analysed using a custom-made microarray based on the ImmunoCAP ISAC system (Phadia).
Results
The concentration of anti-CarP antibodies was significantly increased in the pre-symptomatic individuals compared with controls (P <0.001) and also increased significantly after disease onset (P <0.001). The sensitivity for anti-CarP antibodies in the pre-symptomatic individuals was 13.9% (95% CI: 11 to 17.6) and 42.2% (95% CI: 35.4 to 49.3) following development of RA. Anti-CarP antibody positivity was found in 5.1% to 13.3% of individuals negative for anti-CCP2 or ACPA specificities. Presence of anti-CarP antibodies was significantly related to radiological destruction at baseline, at 24 months and also to radiological change (P <0.05, all).
Conclusions
The results indicate that anti-CarP antibodies are associated with disease development, even after adjusting for the presence of different ACPA fine specificities, and in anti-CCP2 negative individuals and contribute to the identification of a subset of patients with worse radiological progression of the disease independent of ACPA.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13075-015-0536-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s13075-015-0536-2
PMCID: PMC4350267  PMID: 25889922
8.  Non-HLA genes PTPN22, CDK6 and PADI4 are associated with specific autoantibodies in HLA-defined subgroups of rheumatoid arthritis 
Introduction
Genetic susceptibility to complex diseases has been intensively studied during the last decade, yet only signals with small effect have been found leaving open the possibility that subgroups within complex traits show stronger association signals. In rheumatoid arthritis (RA), autoantibody production serves as a helpful discriminator in genetic studies and today anti-citrullinated cyclic peptide (anti-CCP) antibody positivity is employed for diagnosis of disease. The HLA-DRB1 locus is known as the most important genetic contributor for the risk of RA, but is not sufficient to drive autoimmunity and additional genetic and environmental factors are involved. Hence, we addressed the association of previously discovered RA loci with disease-specific autoantibody responses in RA patients stratified by HLA-DRB1*04.
Methods
We investigated 2178 patients from three RA cohorts from Sweden and Spain for 41 genetic variants and four autoantibodies, including the generic anti-CCP as well as specific responses towards citrullinated peptides from vimentin, alpha-enolase and type II collagen.
Results
Our data demonstrated different genetic associations of autoantibody-positive disease subgroups in relation to the presence of DRB1*04. Two specific subgroups of autoantibody-positive RA were identified. The SNP in PTPN22 was associated with presence of anti-citrullinated enolase peptide antibodies in carriers of HLA-DRB1*04 (Cochran-Mantel-Haenszel test P = 0.0001, Pcorrected <0.05), whereas SNPs in CDK6 and PADI4 were associated with anti-CCP status in DRB1*04 negative patients (Cochran-Mantel-Haenszel test P = 0.0004, Pcorrected <0.05 for both markers). Additionally we see allelic correlation with autoantibody titers for PTPN22 SNP rs2476601 and anti-citrullinated enolase peptide antibodies in carriers of HLA-DRB1*04 (Mann Whitney test P = 0.02) and between CDK6 SNP rs42041 and anti-CCP in non-carriers of HLA-DRB1*04 (Mann Whitney test P = 0.02).
Conclusion
These data point to alternative pathways for disease development in clinically similar RA subgroups and suggest an approach for study of genetic complexity of disease with strong contribution of HLA.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13075-014-0414-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s13075-014-0414-3
PMCID: PMC4292996  PMID: 25138370
9.  Affinity purified anti-citrullinated protein/peptide antibodies target antigens expressed in the rheumatoid joint 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2014;16(4):R167.
Introduction
A major subset of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is characterized by the presence of circulating autoantibodies directed to citrullinated proteins/peptides (ACPAs). These autoantibodies, which are commonly detected by using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) based on synthetic cyclic citrullinated peptides (CCPs), predict clinical onset and a destructive disease course. In the present study, we have used plasma and synovial fluids from patients with RA, for the affinity purification and characterization of anti-CCP2 reactive antibodies, with an aim to generate molecular tools that can be used in vitro and in vivo for future investigations into the pathobiology of the ACPA response. Specifically, this study aims to demonstrate that the surrogate marker CCP2 can capture ACPAs that bind to autoantigens expressed in vivo in the major inflammatory lesions of RA (that is, in the rheumatoid joint).
Methods
Plasma (n = 16) and synovial fluid (n = 26) samples were collected from RA patients with anti-CCP2 IgG levels of above 300 AU/mL. Total IgG was isolated on Protein G columns and subsequently applied to CCP2 affinity columns. Purified anti-CCP2 IgG was analyzed for reactivity and specificity by using the CCPlus® ELISA, in-house peptide ELISAs, Western blot, and immunohisto-/immunocytochemistry.
Results
Approximately 2% of the total IgG pool in both plasma and synovial fluid was CCP2-reactive. Purified anti-CCP2 reactive antibodies from different patients showed differences in binding to CCP2 and differences in binding to citrullinated peptides from α-enolase, vimentin, fibrinogen, and collagen type II, illustrating different ACPA fine-specificity profiles. Furthermore, the purified ACPA bound not only in vitro citrullinated proteins but, more importantly, in vivo-generated epitopes on synovial fluid cells and synovial tissues from patients with RA.
Conclusions
We have isolated ACPAs from plasma and synovial fluid and demonstrated that the CCP2 peptides, frequently used in diagnostic ELISAs, de facto act as surrogate antigens for at least four different, well-characterized, largely non-cross-reactive, ACPA fine specificities. Moreover, we have determined the concentration and proportion of CCP2-reactive IgG molecules in rheumatoid plasma and synovial fluid, and we have shown that the purified ACPAs can be used to detect both in vitro- and in vivo-generated citrullinated epitopes by various techniques. We anticipate that these antibodies will provide us with new opportunities to investigate the potential pathogenic effects of human ACPAs.
doi:10.1186/ar4683
PMCID: PMC4448322  PMID: 25112157
10.  Arthritis is associated with T-cell-induced upregulation of Toll-like receptor 3 on synovial fibroblasts 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(3):R103.
Introduction
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are likely to play crucial roles in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The aim of this study was to determine the key TLRs in synovium and explore their roles in the activation of fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs) mediated by T cells in arthritis.
Methods
Pristane-induced arthritis (PIA) was established by subcutaneous injection with pristane at the base of the rat's tail. TLR expression in synovium from PIA rats was detected at different time points by performing real-time PCR. Polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid (poly(I:C)) was intra-articularly administrated to PIA rats, and arthritis was monitored macroscopically and microscopically. Synovial TLR3 was detected by immunohistochemical staining. Rat FLSs were stimulated with pristane-primed T cells or pristane-primed, T-cell conditioned medium. The intervention of TLR3 in FLSs was achieved by specific short-hairpin RNA (shRNA) or an antibody. The migration ability of FLSs was measured by using the scratch test, and gene expression was detected by using real-time PCR. FLSs from RA patients were stimulated with various cytokines and TLR ligands, and TLR3 expression was detected by performing real-time PCR. In addition, with different concentrations of poly(I:C) stimulation, TLR3 expression of FLSs from RA patients and patients with osteoarthritis (OA) was compared.
Results
Synovium TLR3 displayed early and persistent overexpression in PIA rats. TLR3 was expressed in FLSs, and local treatment with poly(I:C) synergistically aggravated the arthritis. Rat FLSs co-cultured with pristane-primed T cells showed strengthened migration ability and significant upregulation of TLR3, IFN-β, IL-6 and matrix metalloproteinase 3 (MMP3) expression, which could also be induced by pristane-primed, T-cell conditioned medium. The upregulation of cytokines and MMPs was blocked by shRNA or TLR3 antibodies. In RA FLSs with cytokine or TLR ligand stimulation, TLR3 expression exhibited remarkable upregulation. Furthermore, RA FLSs showed higher reactivity than OA FLSs to poly(I:C).
Conclusions
TLR3 in the synovium of PIA rats was overexpressed, and activation of the TLR3 signaling pathway could aggravate this arthritis. The induction of TLR3 in FLSs resulted from T cell-derived inflammatory stimulation and could further mediate FLS activation in arthritis. We conclude that TLR3 upregulation of FLSs activated by T cells results in articular inflammation.
doi:10.1186/ar3384
PMCID: PMC3218918  PMID: 21708001
11.  Cystatin C influences the autoimmune but not inflammatory response to cartilage type II collagen leading to chronic arthritis development 
Introduction
Collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) is a mouse model for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and is induced after immunization with type II collagen (CII). CIA, like RA, is an autoimmune disease leading to destruction of cartilage and joints, and both the priming and inflammatory phases have been suggested to be dependent on proteases. In particular, the cysteine proteases have been proposed to be detrimental to the arthritic process and even immunomodulatory. A natural inhibitor of cysteine proteases is cystatin C.
Methods
Cystatin C-deficient, sufficient and heterozygous mice were tested for onset, incidence and severity of CIA. The effect of cystatin C-deficiency was further dissected by testing the inflammatory effector phase of CIA; that is, collagen antibody-induced arthritis model and priming phase, that is, T cell response both in vivo and in vitro. In addition, in order to determine the importance of T cells and antigen-presenting cells (APCs), these cell populations were separated and in vitro T cell responses determined in a mixed co-culture system. Finally, flow cytometry was used in order to further characterize cell populations in cystatin C-deficient mice.
Results
Here, we show that mice lacking cystatin C, develop arthritis at a higher incidence and an earlier onset than wild-type controls. Interestingly, when the inflammatory phase of CIA was examined independently from immune priming then cystatin C-deficiency did not enhance the arthritis profile. However, in line with the enhanced CIA, there was an increased T cell and B cell response as delayed-type hypersensitivity reaction and anti-CII antibody titers were elevated in the cystatin C-deficient mice after immunization. In addition, the ex vivo naïve APCs from cystatin C-deficient mice had a greater capacity to stimulate T cells. Interestingly, dendritic cells had a more activated phenotype in naïve cystatin C-deficient mice.
Conclusions
The lack of cystatin C enhances CIA and primarily affects in vivo priming of the immune system. Although the mechanism of this is still unknown, we show evidence for a more activated APC compartment, which would elevate the autoimmune response towards CII, thus resulting in an enhanced development of chronic arthritis.
doi:10.1186/ar3298
PMCID: PMC3132044  PMID: 21443774
12.  Toll-like receptor 3 upregulation in macrophages participates in the initiation and maintenance of pristane-induced arthritis in rats 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2010;12(3):R103.
Introduction
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are involved in both innate and adaptive immune responses and are likely to play a complex role in the pathogenesis of human rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and experimental arthritis. The objective of this study was to identify the key TLR in pristane-induced arthritis (PIA), a rat model for RA, and to clarify its roles in the initiation and maintenance of arthritis.
Methods
Arthritis in DA rats was induced by pristane and the severity was evaluated by macroscopic and microscopic score systems. Spleen TLR and cytokine expression was detected at different time points by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and flow cytometry. Polyinosine-polycytidylic acid (polyI:C, a ligand of TLR3) or TLR3 specific short-hairpin RNA plasmid for RNA interference was administrated to PIA rats in vivo. Serum nitrogen oxide concentration was determined by Griess method, and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) was determined by L929 biotest. In splenic macrophages, TLR3 expression was measured by flow cytometry. A rat macrophage cell line (NR8383) was stimulated by pristane, and anti-TLR3 antibody were used to block TLR3 pathway. TLR3 and cytokine expression in NR8383 were detected by real-time PCR.
Results
By screening the TLR expression profile in spleen of DA rats after pristane injection, we found that TLR3 was the most early and prominently upregulated TLR. Both TLR3 mRNA and protein expression of spleen were upregulated at 6 and 26 days after pristane injection. Furthermore, administration of polyI:C exacerbated, whereas RNA interference targeting TLR3 ameliorated, the arthritis. Particularly, TLR3 expression was induced in splenic macrophages of PIA rats, and also in the NR8383 cell line after pristane stimulation in a dose- and time- dependent manner. Upregulation of interferon beta (IFN-β) and TNF-α by pristane stimulation was blocked by anti-TLR3 antibody in NR8383.
Conclusions
TLR3 plays a pivotal role in the initiation and development of PIA which may dependent on macrophage. These findings are useful to understand the pathogenesis of RA and may provide an intriguing therapeutic opportunity for RA.
doi:10.1186/ar3034
PMCID: PMC2911891  PMID: 20500834
13.  The value of animal models in predicting genetic susceptibility to complex diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis 
For a long time, genetic studies of complex diseases were most successfully conducted in animal models. However, the field of genetics is now rapidly evolving, and human genetics has also started to produce strong candidate genes for complex diseases. This raises the question of how to continue gene-finding attempts in animals and how to use animal models to enhance our understanding of gene function. In this review we summarize the uses and advantages of animal studies in identification of disease susceptibility genes, focusing on rheumatoid arthritis. We are convinced that animal genetics will remain a valuable tool for the identification and investigation of pathways that lead to disease, well into the future.
doi:10.1186/ar2600
PMCID: PMC2714094  PMID: 19490601
14.  Dissection of a locus on mouse chromosome 5 reveals arthritis promoting and inhibitory genes 
Introduction
In a cross between two mouse strains, the susceptible B10.RIII (H-2r) and resistant RIIIS/J (H-2r) strains, a locus on mouse chromosome 5 (Eae39) was previously shown to control experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Recently, quantitative trait loci (QTL), linked to disease in different experimental arthritis models, were mapped to this region. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether genes within Eae39, in addition to EAE, control development of collagen-induced arthritis (CIA).
Methods
CIA, induced by immunisation with bovine type II collagen, was studied in Eae39 congenic and sub-interval congenic mice. Antibody titres were investigated with ELISA. Gene-typing was performed by micro-satellite mapping and statistics was calculated by standard methods.
Results
Experiments of CIA in Eae39 congenic- and sub-interval congenic mice, carrying RIIIS/J genes on the B10.RIII genetic background, revealed three loci within Eae39 that control disease and anti-collagen antibody titres. Two of the loci promoted disease and the third locus was protected against CIA development. By further breeding of mice with small congenic fragments, we identified a 3.2 mega base pair (Mbp) interval that regulates disease.
Conclusions
Disease-promoting and disease-protecting genes within the Eae39 locus on mouse chromosome 5 control susceptibility to CIA. A disease-protecting locus in the telomeric part of Eae39 results in lower anti-collagen antibody responses. The study shows the importance of breeding sub-congenic mouse strains to reveal genetic effects on complex diseases.
doi:10.1186/ar2597
PMCID: PMC2688241  PMID: 20527086
15.  Cartilage oligomeric matrix protein deficiency promotes early onset and the chronic development of collagen-induced arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2008;10(6):R134.
Introduction
Cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP) is a homopentameric protein in cartilage. The development of arthritis, like collagen-induced arthritis (CIA), involves cartilage as a target tissue. We have investigated the development of CIA in COMP-deficient mice.
Methods
COMP-deficient mice in the 129/Sv background were backcrossed for 10 generations against B10.Q mice, which are susceptible to chronic CIA. COMP-deficient and wild-type mice were tested for onset, incidence, and severity of arthritis in both the collagen and collagen antibody-induced arthritis models. Serum anti-collagen II and anti-COMP antibodies as well as serum COMP levels in arthritic and wild-type mice were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
Results
COMP-deficient mice showed a significant early onset and increase in the severity of CIA in the chronic phase, whereas collagen II-antibody titers were similar in COMP-deficient and wild-type controls. COMP antibodies were not found in wild-type mice. Finally, COMP-deficient and wild-type mice responded similarly to collagen antibody-induced arthritis, indicating no difference in how collagen II antibodies interact with COMP-deficient cartilage during the initial stages of arthritis.
Conclusions
COMP deficiency enhances the early onset and development of chronic arthritis but does not affect collagen II autoimmunity. These findings accentuate the importance of COMP in cartilage stability.
doi:10.1186/ar2551
PMCID: PMC2656236  PMID: 19014566
16.  The influence of the NOD Nss1/Idd5 loci on sialadenitis and gene expression in salivary glands of congenic mice 
The nonobese diabetic (NOD) Nss1 and Idd5 loci have been associated with sialadenitis development in mice. In this study the NOD Nss1 and Idd5 loci were backcrossed onto the healthy control strain B10.Q by using the speed congenic breeding strategy, resulting in three congenic strains: B10.Q.Nss1, B10.Q.Nss1/Idd5 heterozygous and B10.Q.Nss1/Idd5 homozygous. We investigated the effects of the Nss1 and Idd5 loci on sialadenitis and gene expression in NOD congenic mice. One submandibular salivary gland from each mouse was used for histological analysis of sialadenitis, whereas the contralateral salivary gland was used for gene expression profiling with the Applied Biosystems Mouse Genome Survey chip v.1.0. The results were validated using quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR. The NOD Nss1 and Idd5 loci had clear influence on the onset and progression of sialadenitis in congenic mice. Double congenic mice exhibited the most severe phenotype. We successfully identified several genes that are located in the NOD congenic regions to be differentially expressed between the congenic strains and the control strain. Several of these were found to be co-regulated, such as Stat1, complement component C1q genes and Tlr12. Also, a vast contingency of interferon-regulated genes (such as Ltb, Irf7 and Irf8) and cytokine and chemokine genes (such as Ccr7 and Ccl19) were differentially expressed between the congenic strains and the control strain. Over-representation of inflammatory signalling pathways was observed among the differentially expressed genes. We have found that the introgression of the NOD loci Nss1 and Idd5 on a healthy background caused sialadenitis in NOD congenic mouse strains, and we propose that genes within these loci are important factors in the pathogenesis. Furthermore, gene expression profiling has revealed several differentially expressed genes within and outside the NOD loci that are similar to genes found to be differentially expressed in patients with Sjögren's syndrome, and as such are interesting candidates for investigation to enhance our understanding of disease mechanisms and to develop future therapies.
doi:10.1186/ar2300
PMCID: PMC2212552  PMID: 17900348
17.  A case-control study of rheumatoid arthritis identifies an associated single nucleotide polymorphism in the NCF4 gene, supporting a role for the NADPH-oxidase complex in autoimmunity 
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease with a heritability of 60%. Genetic contributions to RA are made by multiple genes, but only a few gene associations have yet been confirmed. By studying animal models, reduced capacity of the NADPH-oxidase (NOX) complex, caused by a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in one of its components (the NCF1 gene), has been found to increase severity of arthritis. To our knowledge, however, no studies investigating the potential role played by reduced reactive oxygen species production in human RA have yet been reported. In order to examine the role played by the NOX complex in RA, we investigated the association of 51 SNPs in five genes of the NOX complex (CYBB, CYBA, NCF4, NCF2, and RAC2) in a Swedish case-control cohort consisting of 1,842 RA cases and 1,038 control individuals. Several SNPs were found to be mildly associated in men in NCF4 (rs729749, P = 0.001), NCF2 (rs789181, P = 0.02) and RAC2 (rs1476002, P = 0.05). No associations were detected in CYBA or CYBB. By stratifying for autoantibody status, we identified a strong association for rs729749 (in NCF4) in autoantibody negative disease, with the strongest association detected in rheumatoid factor negative men (CT genotype versus CC genotype: odds ratio 0.34, 95% confidence interval 0.2 to 0.6; P = 0.0001). To our knowledge, this is the first genetic association identified between RA and the NOX complex, and it supports previous findings from animal models of the importance of reactive oxygen species production capacity to the development of arthritis.
doi:10.1186/ar2299
PMCID: PMC2212587  PMID: 17897462
18.  Antibody-induced arthritis: disease mechanisms and genes involved at the effector phase of arthritis 
During the development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) autoantibodies to IgG-Fc, citrullinated proteins, collagen type II (CII), glucose 6 phosphoisomerase (G6PI) and some other self-antigens appear. Of these, a pathogenic effect of the anti-CII and anti-G6PI antibodies is well demonstrated using animal models. These new antibody mediated arthritis models have proven to be very useful for studies involved in understanding the molecular pathways of the induction of arthritis in joints. Both the complement and FcγR systems have been found to play essential roles. Neutrophils and macrophages are important inflammatory cells and the secretion of tumour necrosis factor-α and IL-1β is pathogenic. The identification of the genetic polymorphisms predisposing to arthritis is important for understanding the complexity of arthritis. Disease mechanisms and gene regions studied using the two antibody-induced arthritis mouse models (collagen antibody-induced arthritis and serum transfer-induced arthritis) are compared and discussed for their relevance in RA pathogenesis.
doi:10.1186/ar2089
PMCID: PMC1794524  PMID: 17254316
19.  Type IX collagen deficiency enhances the binding of cartilage-specific antibodies and arthritis severity 
Joint cartilage is attacked in both autoimmune inflammatory and osteoarthritic processes. Type IX collagen (CIX) is a protein of importance for cartilage integrity and stability. In this study we have backcrossed a transgenic disruption of the col9a1 gene, which leads to an absence of CIX, into two different inbred mouse strains, DBA/1 and B10.Q. None of the CIX-deficient mice developed observable clinical or microscopic osteoarthritis, but DBA/1 male mice had more pronounced enthesopathic arthritis, the so-called stress-induced arthritis. Both DBA/1 and B10.Q strains are susceptible to the induction of collagen-induced arthritis, and CIX deficiency in both strains led to the development of a more severe arthritis than in the controls. Induction of arthritis with monoclonal antibodies against type II collagen (CII) led to an earlier arthritis in the paws that also involved the knee joints. The antibodies used, which were specific for the J1 and the C1I epitopes of CII, initiate their arthritogenic attack by binding to cartilage. The C1I-specific antibodies bound to cartilage better in CIX-deficient mice than in wild-type animals, demonstrating that the lack of CIX in cartilage leads to an increased accessibility of structures for antibody binding and thus making the joints more vulnerable to inflammatory attack. These findings accentuate the importance of cartilage stability; cartilage disrupted as a result of genetic disorders could be more accessible and vulnerable to an autoimmune attack by pathogenic antibodies.
doi:10.1186/ar1989
PMCID: PMC1779414  PMID: 16813664
20.  Modulation of granulocyte-endothelium interactions by antileukoproteinase: inhibition of anti-type II collagen antibody-induced leukocyte attachment to the synovial endothelium 
Antileukoproteinase (ALP) is a physiological inhibitor of granulocytic serine proteases that has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties in addition to its antiproteolytic activity. On the basis of its potential to block anti-collagen type II (CII) antibody-induced arthritis (CAIA) and to suppress the conformational activation of β2-integrins in leukocytes, the present study was undertaken to investigate its interference with leukocyte adherence to cytokine-activated endothelium. The potential of recombinant ALP to block the interactions of leukocytes with the endothelial lining was concomitantly investigated in vitro and in vivo. Thus, intravital fluorescence microscopic imaging of leukocyte rolling and firm adhesion to postcapillary venules were performed in the knee joints of DBA1/J mice after intravenous injection of anti-CII mAbs. An IL-1β-activated endothelial layer formed by a murine glomerular cell line (glEND.2) was used to assay the interaction with human leukocytes in vitro. Electromobility shift and luciferase reporter gene assays permitted the analysis of cytokine-induced activation of the NF-κB pathway. Fluorescence-activated cell sorting was applied to determine endothelial E-selectin expression. Leukocyte rolling and firm adhesion to the synovial endothelium in an early response to the anti-CII antibody transfer were significantly decreased in ALP-pretreated mice. Concomitantly, ALP suppressed the IL-1β-induced NF-κB activation and the upregulation of E-selectin expression in glEND.2 cells in vitro. These findings support the notion that the newly uncovered properties of ALP to interfere with cytokine signalling and upregulation of adhesion molecules in endothelial cells are likely to contribute to the therapeutic potential of ALP in immune-complex-induced tissue injury.
doi:10.1186/ar1973
PMCID: PMC1779410  PMID: 16776851
21.  Inhibition of macropinocytosis blocks antigen presentation of type II collagen in vitro and in vivo in HLA-DR1 transgenic mice 
Professional antigen-presenting cells, such as dendritic cells, macrophages and B cells have been implicated in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis, constituting a possible target for antigen-specific immunotherapy. We addressed the possibility of blocking antigen presentation of the type II collagen (CII)-derived immunodominant arthritogenic epitope CII259–273 to specific CD4 T cells by inhibition of antigen uptake in HLA-DR1-transgenic mice in vitro and in vivo. Electron microscopy, confocal microscopy, subcellular fractionation and antigen presentation assays were used to establish the mechanisms of uptake, intracellular localization and antigen presentation of CII by dendritic cells and macrophages. We show that CII accumulated in membrane fractions of intermediate density corresponding to late endosomes. Treatment of dendritic cells and macrophages with cytochalasin D or amiloride prevented the intracellular appearance of CII and blocked antigen presentation of CII259–273 to HLA-DR1-restricted T cell hybridomas. The data suggest that CII was taken up by dendritic cells and macrophages predominantly via macropinocytosis. Administration of amiloride in vivo prevented activation of CII-specific polyclonal T cells in the draining popliteal lymph nodes. This study suggests that selective targeting of CII internalization in professional antigen-presenting cells prevents activation of autoimmune T cells, constituting a novel therapeutic strategy for the immunotherapy of rheumatoid arthritis.
doi:10.1186/ar1964
PMCID: PMC1779380  PMID: 16704744
22.  Identification of collagen-induced arthritis loci in aged multiparous female mice 
Collagen-induced arthritis in mice is one of the most commonly used autoimmune experimental models, with many similarities to rheumatoid arthritis. Since collagen-induced arthritis is a complex polygenic disease there is a need for identification of several major disease-controlling genes. Because rheumatoid arthritis particularly affects aged women, we have in the present study identified new genetic regions critical for collagen-induced arthritis by studying aged female mice of a cross between NFR/N and B10.Q (H-2q haplotype). The mice in the present study had different reproductive histories, which did not significantly affect the onset, incidence or severity of the disease. A total of 200 female mice were used in a total genome-wide screening with 125 microsatellite markers. We found one new significant quantitative trait locus affecting the arthritis incidence, severity and day of onset on chromosome 11 (denoted Cia40), which colocalizes with a locus controlling pregnancy failure. Furthermore, a quantitative trait locus of suggestive significance associated with the incidence, severity and day of onset was identified on chromosome 1. Finally, a suggestively significant quantitative trait locus associated with collagen type II antibody titers was identified on chromosome 13. This study indicates that several gene loci control arthritis in aged multiparous females, and that at least one of these loci coincides with pregnancy failure.
doi:10.1186/ar1901
PMCID: PMC1526604  PMID: 16507151
23.  Induction of a B-cell-dependent chronic arthritis with glucose-6-phosphate isomerase 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2005;7(6):R1316-R1324.
Antibodies specific for glucose-6-phosphate isomerase (G6PI) from T-cell receptor transgenic K/BxN mice are known to induce arthritis in mice, and immunization of DBA/1 mice with G6PI led to acute arthritis without permanent deformation of their joints. Because rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease, we set out to identify the capacity of G6PI to induce chronic arthritis in mice. Immunization with recombinant human G6PI induced a chronically active arthritis in mice with a C3H genomic background, whereas the DBA/1 background allowed only acute arthritis and the C57BL/10 background permitted no or very mild arthritis. The disease was associated with the major histocompatibility region sharing an allelic association similar to that of collagen-induced arthritis (i.e. q > p > r). All strains developed a strong antibody response to G6PI that correlated only in the C3H.NB strain with arthritis severity. Similarly, a weak response to type II collagen in a few mice was observed, which was associated with arthritis in C3H.NB mice. Mice on the C3H background also developed ankylosing spondylitis in the vertebrae of the tail. Both C3H.Q and B10.Q mice deficient for B cells were resistant to arthritis. We conclude that G6PI has the ability to induce a chronic arthritis, which is MHC associated and B-cell dependent. Thus, there are striking similarities between this and the collagen-induced arthritis model.
doi:10.1186/ar1829
PMCID: PMC1297579  PMID: 16277685
24.  Chronic development of collagen-induced arthritis is associated with arthritogenic antibodies against specific epitopes on type II collagen 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2005;7(5):R1148-R1157.
Antibodies against type II collagen (CII) are important in the development of collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) and possibly also in rheumatoid arthritis. We have determined the fine specificity and arthritogenicity of the antibody response to CII in chronic relapsing variants of CIA. Immunization with rat CII in B10.Q or B10.Q(BALB/c×B10.Q)F2 mice induces a chronic relapsing CIA. The antibody response to CII was determined by using triple-helical peptides of the major B cell epitopes. Each individual mouse had a unique epitope-specific response and this epitope predominance shifted distinctly during the course of the disease. In the B10.Q mice the antibodies specific for C1 and U1, and in the B10.Q(BALB/c×B10.Q)F2 mice the antibodies specific for C1, U1 and J1, correlated with the development of chronic arthritis. Injection of monoclonal antibodies against these epitopes induced relapses in chronic arthritic mice. The development of chronic relapsing arthritis, initially induced by CII immunization, is associated with an arthritogenic antibody response to certain CII epitopes.
doi:10.1186/ar1800
PMCID: PMC1257444  PMID: 16207332
25.  Destructive effects of murine arthritogenic antibodies to type II collagen on cartilage explants in vitro 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2005;7(5):R927-R937.
Certain monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to type II collagen (CII) induce arthritis in vivo after passive transfer and have adverse effects on chondrocyte cultures and inhibit self assembly of collagen fibrils in vitro. We have examined whether such mAbs have detrimental effects on pre-existing cartilage. Bovine cartilage explants were cultured over 21 days in the presence of two arthritogenic mAbs to CII (CIIC1 or M2139), a non-arthritogenic mAb to CII (CIIF4) or a control mAb (GAD6). Penetration of cartilage by mAb was determined by immunofluorescence on frozen sections and correlated with changes to the extracellular matrix and chondrocytes by morphometric analysis of sections stained with toluidine blue. The effects of mAbs on matrix components were examined by Fourier transform infrared microspectroscopy (FTIRM). A possible role of Fc-binding was investigated using F(ab)2 from CIIC1. All three mAbs to CII penetrated the cartilage explants and CIIC1 and M2139, but not CIIF4, had adverse effects that included proteoglycan loss correlating with mAb penetration, the later development in cultures of an abnormal superficial cellular layer, and an increased proportion of empty chondrons. FTIRM showed depletion and denaturation of CII at the explant surface in the presence of CIIC1 or M2139, which paralleled proteoglycan loss. The effects of F(ab)2 were greater than those of intact CIIC1. Our results indicate that mAbs to CII can adversely affect preformed cartilage, and that the specific epitope on CII recognised by the mAb determines both arthritogenicity in vivo and adverse effects in vitro. We conclude that antibodies to CII can have pathogenic effects that are independent of inflammatory mediators or Fc-binding.
doi:10.1186/ar1766
PMCID: PMC1257420  PMID: 16207334

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