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J Immunol. 2008 Jan 15;180(2):833-41.

CD4+ T cells recognizing a single self-peptide expressed by APCs induce spontaneous autoimmune arthritis.

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  • 1The Wistar Institute, Department of Surgery, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia 19104, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Immunol. 2008 May 15;180(10):7047.


We have examined processes leading to the spontaneous development of autoimmune inflammatory arthritis in transgenic mice containing CD4+ T cells targeted to a nominal Ag (hemagglutinin (HA)) and coexpressing HA driven by a MHC class II promoter. Despite being subjected to multiple tolerance mechanisms, autoreactive CD4+ T cells accumulate in the periphery of these mice and promote systemic proinflammatory cytokine production. The majority of mice spontaneously develop inflammatory arthritis, which is accompanied by an enhanced regional immune response in lymph nodes draining major joints. Arthritis development is accompanied by systemic B cell activation; however, neither B cells nor Ab is required for arthritis development, since disease develops in a B cell-deficient background. Moreover, arthritis also develops in a recombinase activating gene-deficient background, indicating that the disease process is driven by CD4+ T cells recognizing the neo-self HA Ag. These findings show that autoreactive CD4+ T cells recognizing a single self-Ag, expressed by systemically distributed APCs, can induce arthritis via a mechanism that is independent of their ability to provide help for autoantibody production.

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