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Clin Exp Immunol. 1998 Dec;114(3):477-84.

Cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP)-induced arthritis in rats.

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Section for Medical Inflammation Research, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.


In rheumatoid arthritis peripheral cartilaginous joints are inflamed and eroded. One driving factor may be an immune response towards proteins in the cartilage. Here it is shown that cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP), expressed specifically in cartilage, is arthritogenic in the rat. Both native and denatured rat COMP induced severe arthritis in selected rat strains. The arthritis occurred only in peripheral joints which were attacked by an erosive inflammatory process similar to that seen in the human disease. The disease was self-limited and no permanent destruction of joints was seen macroscopically. Disease development appeared to be dependent on an immune response to autologous (rat) COMP and not on cross-reactivity to other cartilage rat collagens (types II, IX and XI). The disease and the immune response to COMP were genetically controlled by the MHC; the RT1u and RT1l haplotypes were more susceptible than the a, c, d, f and n haplotypes. Both LEW and E3 gene backgrounds were highly permissive for disease induction. These findings suggest that the induction of arthritis with rat COMP represents a unique pathogenesis which is controlled by different genes compared with collagen-induced arthritis or adjuvant-induced arthritis.

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