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J Immunol. 1997 Jun 1;158(11):5507-13.

Accelerated collagen-induced arthritis in IFN-gamma receptor-deficient mice.

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  • 1Laboratory of Immunobiology, Rega Institute, University of Leuven, Belgium.


Collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) is a model for rheumatoid arthritis. Here, we describe experiments showing that IFN-gamma receptor knockout (IFN-gammaR alpha KO) mice of the DBA/1 strain develop CIA more readily than their wild-type counterparts. Symptoms of disease started 10 days earlier and the cumulative incidence of arthritis was significantly higher in the mutant mice than in wild-type mice. Similarly, accelerated onset of the disease was also found in wild-type DBA/1 mice treated with neutralizing mAbs against IFN-gamma. Histologic examination of the joints revealed a massive infiltration of the synovium with mononuclear cells and neutrophils, hyperplasia, and severe pannus formation in IFN-gammaR alpha KO mice when such inflammatory lesions were not yet detectable in wild-type mice. Serum levels of anti-collagen type II Abs, including total IgG and IgM, as well as IgG1, IgG2a, and IgG2b isotypes were found to be lower in the mutant mice. IL-2 and IL-4 remained undetectable in sera of both groups of mice, but did appear in the circulation after anti-CD3 Ab challenge. Significantly higher IL-2 and lower IL-4 serum levels were found in anti-CD3-challenged IFN-gammaR alpha KO mice than in wild-type counterparts, both at an early and at a later stage of the disease. These observations indicate that endogenous IFN-gamma counteracts development of collagen-induced arthritis and suggest that IFN-gamma does so by up-regulating IL-4 production and/or down-regulating IL-2 production. The data are in line with the concept of a pathogenic role of Th1-type cellular immunity in CIA in spite of a decreased Ab response to collagen type II.

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