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Blood. 2008 Dec 15;112(13):4999-5006. doi: 10.1182/blood-2008-04-150383. Epub 2008 Sep 24.

CD44-specific antibody treatment and CD44 deficiency exert distinct effects on leukocyte recruitment in experimental arthritis.

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  • 1Section of Molecular Medicine, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL, USA.


CD44, the leukocyte adhesion receptor for hyaluronan, has been considered a therapeutic target on the basis of the robust anti-inflammatory effect of CD44-specific antibodies in animal models of immune-mediated diseases. However, CD44 deficiency does not provide substantial protection against inflammation. Using intravital video microscopy in a murine model of rheumatoid arthritis, we show that CD44 deficiency and anti-CD44 antibody treatment exert disparate effects on leukocyte recruitment in inflamed joints. Leukocyte rolling, which is increased in CD44-deficient mice, is promptly abrogated in anti-CD44-treated wild-type mice. CD44-specific antibodies also trigger platelet deposition on granulocytes and subsequent depletion of this leukocyte subset in the circulation. These in vivo effects require CD44 cross-linking and are reproducible with an antibody against Gr-1, a molecule that, like CD44, is highly expressed on granulocytes. Anticoagulant pretreatment, which prevents platelet deposition, mitigates both granulocyte depletion and the suppressive effect of CD44-specific antibody on joint swelling. Our observations suggest that cross-linking of prominent cell surface molecules, such as CD44 or Gr-1, can initiate a rapid self-elimination program in granulocytes through engagement of the coagulation system. We conclude that the robust anti-inflammatory effect of CD44-specific antibodies in arthritis is primarily the result of their ability to trigger granulocyte depletion.

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