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Arthritis Rheum. 2009 Feb;60(2):534-42. doi: 10.1002/art.24256.

Tissue targeting of anti-RNP autoimmunity: effects of T cells and myeloid dendritic cells in a murine model.

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Miami VA Medical Center, and University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida, USA.



To explore the role of immune cells in anti-RNP autoimmunity in a murine model of pneumonitis or glomerulonephritis, using adoptive transfer techniques.


Donor mice were immunized with 50 mug of U1-70-kd small nuclear RNP fusion protein and 50 mug of U1 RNA adjuvant. Whole splenocytes as well as CD4+ cell and dendritic cell (DC) subsets from the immunized mice were infused into naive syngeneic recipients. Anti-RNP and T cell responses were assessed by immunoblotting, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and flow cytometry. Development of renal or lung disease was assessed by histology and urinalysis.


Unfractionated splenocytes from donor mice without proteinuria induced predominantly lung disease in recipients (8 [57%] of 14 versus 2 [14%] of 14 developing renal disease; P = 0.046). However, infusion of CD4+ cells from donors without proteinuria induced renal disease more frequently than lung disease (7 [70%] of 10 versus 2 [20%] of 10; P = 0.01); adoptive transfer of RNP+CD4+ T cells from short-term culture yielded similar results (renal disease in 8 [73%] of 11 recipients versus lung disease in 3 [27%] of 11). Cotransfer of splenic myeloid DCs and CD4+ T cells from immunized donors prevented induction of renal disease in all 5 recipients (P = 0.026 versus recipients of fresh CD4+ cells alone), although lung disease was still observed in 1 of 5 mice. Transfer of myeloid DCs alone from immunized donors induced lung disease in 3 (60%) of 5 recipients, without evidence of nephritis. Cotransfer of splenocytes from mice with and those without nephritis led to renal disease in 4 of 5 recipients, without evidence of lung disease.


These findings indicate that RNP+CD4+ T cells are sufficient to induce anti-RNP autoimmunity, tissue targeting in anti-RNP autoimmunity can be deviated to either a renal or pulmonary phenotype depending on the presence of accessory cells such as myeloid DCs, and DC subsets can play a role in both propagation of autoimmunity and end-organ targeting.

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