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J Immunol. 2013 Sep 1;191(5):2096-103. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1203231. Epub 2013 Jul 24.

A small shared epitope-mimetic compound potently accelerates osteoclast-mediated bone damage in autoimmune arthritis.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan School of Medicine, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5680, USA.


We have recently proposed that the shared epitope (SE) may contribute to rheumatoid arthritis pathogenesis by acting as a ligand that activates proarthritogenic signal transduction events. To examine this hypothesis, in this study we characterized a novel small SE-mimetic compound, c(HS4-4), containing the SE primary sequence motif QKRAA, which was synthesized using a backbone cyclization method. The SE-mimetic c(HS4-4) compound interacted strongly with the SE receptor calreticulin, potently activated NO and reactive oxygen species production, and markedly facilitated osteoclast differentiation and function in vitro. The pro-osteoclastogenic potency of c(HS4-4) was 100,000- to 1,000,000-fold higher than the potency of a recently described linear SE peptidic ligand. When administered in vivo at nanogram doses, c(HS4-4) enhanced Th17 expansion, and in mice with collagen-induced arthritis it facilitated disease onset, increased disease incidence and severity, enhanced osteoclast abundance in synovial tissues and osteoclastogenic propensities of bone marrow-derived cells, and augmented bone destruction. In conclusion, c(HS4-4), a highly potent small SE-mimetic compound enhances bone damage and disease severity in inflammatory arthritis. These findings support the hypothesis that the SE acts as a signal transduction ligand that activates a CRT-mediated proarthritogenic pathway.

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