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Rheumatol Int. 2013 Oct;33(10):2597-605. doi: 10.1007/s00296-013-2788-y. Epub 2013 May 31.

Tyrosine hydroxylase expression in CD4(+) T cells is associated with joint inflammatory alleviation in collagen type II-induced arthritis.

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Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, Nantong University, 19 Qixiu Road, Nantong, 226001, China.


We have recently reported that CD4(+) T cells synthesize and secrete catecholamines that facilitate a shift of T helper 1 (Th1)/Th2 balance toward Th2 polarization. In this study, we used an animal model of human rheumatoid arthritis, collagen type II-induced arthritis (CIA), to explore relationship between catecholamine production in CD4(+) T cells and Th1-/Th2-mediated joint inflammation. Histopathological observation of ankle joints of CIA mice displayed an evident inflammatory change on day 35 and a major damage to bones on day 55 post-immunization. Expression of Th1-specific transcription factor, T-bet, and cytokines, IL-2 and IFN-γ, and Th2-specific transcription factor, GATA-3, and cytokines, IL-4 and IL-10, was all upregulated on days 35 and 55 post-immunization, but the elevated Th1 response tended to decrease and the enhanced Th2 response tended to increase with the CIA progression. Expression of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), a rate-limiting enzyme for synthesis of catecholamines, dramatically increased in ankle joints of CIA mice, although this increase was reduced on day 55 relative to that on day 35 post-immunization. In synovial tissue of CIA ankle joints but not normal joints, CD4-, T-bet-, GATA-3-, and TH-immunoreactive cells were found. Importantly, co-expressed cells with CD4 and TH, T-bet and TH, and GATA-3 and TH were observed in synovial tissue of CIA ankle joints. These results suggest that an increase in catecholamine production occurs in inflamed joints of CIA. The catecholamines are, at least in part, from Th1 and Th2 cells, and they may be related to joint inflammatory alleviation in CIA progression.

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