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Immunol Rev. 2010 Jan;233(1):62-78. doi: 10.1111/j.0105-2896.2009.00858.x.

Role of HLA class II genes in susceptibility/resistance to inflammatory arthritis: studies with humanized mice.

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Department of Immunology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.


Predisposition to develop rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has been associated with certain human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II molecules, although the mechanism is still unknown. Various experimental animal models of inflammatory arthritis have been studied to address the role of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes in pathogenesis. We have generated transgenic mice expressing HLA class II molecules (DR and DQ) lacking complete endogenous class II molecules to study the interactions involved between class II molecules (DQ and DR) and to define the immunologic mechanisms in inflammatory arthritis. The HLA transgene can positively select CD4(+) T cells expressing various V beta T-cell receptors, and a peripheral tolerance is maintained to transgenic HLA molecules. The expression of HLA molecules on various cells in these mice is similar to that known in humans. In this review, we describe collagen-induced arthritis as a model for human inflammatory arthritis using these transgenic mice. The transgenic mice carrying RA-susceptible haplotype develop gender-biased inflammatory arthritis with clinical and histopathological similarities to RA. Our studies show that polymorphism of HLA class II genes determine the predisposition to rheumatoid/inflammatory arthritis and the epistatic interactions between HLA-DQ and HLA-DR molecules dictate the severity, progression, and modulation of the disease.

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