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Arthritis Rheum. 2012 Mar;64(3):678-87. doi: 10.1002/art.33359.

Decreased collagen-induced arthritis severity and adaptive immunity in MKK-6-deficient mice.

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University of California San Diego at La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.



The MAPK kinases MKK-3 and MKK-6 regulate p38 MAPK activation in inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Previous studies demonstrated that MKK-3 or MKK-6 deficiency inhibits K/BxN serum-induced arthritis. However, the role of these kinases in adaptive immunity-dependent models of chronic arthritis is not known. The goal of this study was to evaluate MKK-3 and MKK-6 deficiency in the collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) model.


Wild-type (WT), MKK-3(-/-) , and MKK-6(-/-) mice were immunized with bovine type II collagen. Disease activity was evaluated by semiquantitative scoring, histologic assessment, and micro-computed tomography. Serum anticollagen antibody levels were quantified by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. In vitro T cell cytokine response was measured by flow cytometry and multiplex analysis. Expression of joint cytokines and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) was determined by quantitative polymerase chain reaction.


MKK-6 deficiency markedly reduced arthritis severity compared with that in WT mice, while the absence of MKK-3 had an intermediate effect. Joint damage was minimal in arthritic MKK-6(-/-) mice and intermediate in MKK-3(-/-) mice compared with WT mice. MKK-6(-/-) mice had modestly lower levels of pathogenic anticollagen antibodies than did WT or MKK-3(-/-) mice. In vitro T cell assays showed reduced proliferation and interleukin-17 (IL-17) production by lymph node cells from MKK-6(-/-) mice in response to type II collagen. Gene expression of synovial IL-6, MMP-3, and MMP-13 was significantly inhibited in MKK-6-deficient mice.


Reduced disease severity in MKK-6(-/-) mice correlated with decreased anticollagen antibody responses, indicating that MKK-6 is a crucial regulator of inflammatory joint destruction in CIA. MKK-6 is a potential therapeutic target in complex diseases involving adaptive immune responses, such as RA.

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