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J Immunol. 2004 Jun 15;172(12):7694-702.

Staging the initiation of autoantibody-induced arthritis: a critical role for immune complexes.

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Department of Pathology and Immunology, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 South Euclid Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


In the K/BxN mouse model of arthritis, autoantibodies against glucose-6-phosphate isomerase cause joint-specific inflammation and destruction. We have shown using micro-positron emission tomography that these glucose-6-phosphate isomerase-specific autoantibodies rapidly localize to distal joints of mice. In this study we used micro-positron emission tomography to delineate the stages involved in the development of arthritis. Localization of Abs to the joints depended upon mast cells, neutrophils, and FcRs, but not on C5. Surprisingly, anti-type II collagen Abs alone did not accumulate in the distal joints, but could be induced to do so by coinjection of irrelevant preformed immune complexes. Control Abs localized to the joint in a similar manner. Thus, immune complexes are essential initiators of arthritis by sequential activation of neutrophils and mast cells to allow Abs access to the joints, where they must bind a target Ag to initiate inflammation. Our findings support a four-stage model for the development of arthritis and identify checkpoints where the disease is reversible.

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