Today, it is known that autoimmune diseases start a long time before clinical symptoms appear. Anti-citrullinated protein antibodies (ACPAs) appear many years before the clinical onset of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, it is still unclear if and how ACPAs are arthritogenic. To better understand the molecular basis of pathogenicity of ACPAs, we investigated autoantibodies reactive against the C1 epitope of collagen type II (CII) and its citrullinated variants. We found that these antibodies are commonly occurring in RA. A mAb (ACC1) against citrullinated C1 was found to cross-react with several noncitrullinated epitopes on native CII, causing proteoglycan depletion of cartilage and severe arthritis in mice. Structural studies by X-ray crystallography showed that such recognition is governed by a shared structural motif “RG-TG” within all the epitopes, including electrostatic potential-controlled citrulline specificity. Overall, we have demonstrated a molecular mechanism that explains how ACPAs trigger arthritis.
Changrong Ge, Dongmei Tong, Bibo Liang, Erik Lönnblom, Nadine Schneider, Cecilia Hagert, Johan Viljanen, Burcu Ayoglu, Roma Stawikowska, Peter Nilsson, Gregg B. Fields, Thomas Skogh, Alf Kastbom, Jan Kihlberg, Harald Burkhardt, Doreen Dobritzsch, Rikard Holmdahl
Many effector mechanisms of neutrophils have been implicated in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) have been assigned a particularly detrimental role. Here we investigated the functional impact of neutrophils and NETs on a mouse model of lupus triggered by intraperitoneal injection of the cell death–inducing alkane pristane. Pristane-induced lupus (PIL) was aggravated in 2 mouse strains with impaired induction of NET formation, i.e., NOX2-deficient (
Deborah Kienhöfer, Jonas Hahn, Julia Stoof, Janka Zsófia Csepregi, Christiane Reinwald, Vilma Urbonaviciute, Caroline Johnsson, Christian Maueröder, Malgorzata J. Podolska, Mona H. Biermann, Moritz Leppkes, Thomas Harrer, Malin Hultqvist, Peter Olofsson, Luis E. Munoz, Attila Mocsai, Martin Herrmann, Georg Schett, Rikard Holmdahl, Markus H. Hoffmann
Though recent reports suggest that neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) are a source of antigenic nucleic acids in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), we recently showed that inhibition of NETs by targeting the NADPH oxidase complex via cytochrome b-245, β polypeptide (
Rachael A. Gordon, Jan M. Herter, Florencia Rosetti, Allison M. Campbell, Hiroshi Nishi, Michael Kashgarian, Sheldon I. Bastacky, Anthony Marinov, Kevin M. Nickerson, Tanya N. Mayadas, Mark J. Shlomchik
Pemphigus vulgaris (PV) is an epithelial blistering disease caused by autoantibodies to the desmosomal cadherin desmoglein 3 (DSG3). Glucocorticoids improve disease within days by increasing DSG3 gene transcription, although the mechanism for this observation remains unknown. Here, we show that DSG3 transcription in keratinocytes is regulated by Stat3. Treatment of primary human keratinocytes (PHKs) with hydrocortisone or rapamycin, but not the p38 MAPK inhibitor SB202190, significantly increases DSG3 mRNA and protein expression and correspondingly reduces phospho-S727 Stat3. Stat3 inhibition or shRNA-knockdown also significantly increases DSG3 mRNA and protein levels. Hydrocortisone- or rapamycin-treated PHKs demonstrate increased number and length of desmosomes by electron microscopy and are resistant to PV IgG–induced loss of cell adhesion, whereas constitutive activation of Stat3 in PHKs abrogates DSG3 upregulation and inhibits hydrocortisone and rapamycin’s therapeutic effects. Topical hydrocortisone, rapamycin, or Stat3 inhibitor XVIII prevents autoantibody-induced blistering in the PV passive transfer mouse model, correlating with increased epidermal DSG3 expression and decreased phospho-S727 Stat3. Our data indicate that glucocorticoids and rapamycin upregulate DSG3 transcription through inhibition of Stat3. These studies explain how glucocorticoids rapidly improve pemphigus and may also offer novel insights into the physiologic and pathophysiologic regulation of desmosomal cadherin expression in normal epidermis and epithelial carcinomas.
Xuming Mao, Michael Jeffrey T. Cho, Christoph T. Ellebrecht, Eric M. Mukherjee, Aimee S. Payne
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory CNS demyelinating disease in which remyelination largely fails. Transmembrane TNF (tmTNF) and TNF receptor 2 are important for remyelination in experimental MS models, but it is unknown whether soluble TNF (solTNF), a major proinflammatory factor, is involved in regeneration processes. Here, we investigated the specific contribution of solTNF to demyelination and remyelination in the cuprizone model. Treatment with XPro1595, a selective inhibitor of solTNF that crosses the intact blood-brain barrier (BBB), in cuprizone-fed mice did not prevent toxin-induced oligodendrocyte loss and demyelination, but it permitted profound early remyelination due to improved phagocytosis of myelin debris by CNS macrophages and prevented disease-associated decline in motor performance. The beneficial effects of XPro1595 were absent in TNF-deficient mice and replicated in tmTNF-knockin mice, showing that tmTNF is sufficient for the maintenance of myelin and neuroprotection. These findings demonstrate that solTNF inhibits remyelination and repair in a cuprizone demyelination model and suggest that local production of solTNF in the CNS might be one reason why remyelination fails in MS. These findings also suggest that disinhibition of remyelination by selective inhibitors of solTNF that cross the BBB might represent a promising approach for treatment in progressive MS.
Maria Karamita, Christopher Barnum, Wiebke Möbius, Malú G. Tansey, David E. Szymkowski, Hans Lassmann, Lesley Probert
Myasthenia gravis (MG) with anti–acetylcholine receptor (AChR) Abs is an autoimmune disease characterized by severe defects in immune regulation and thymic inflammation. Because mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) display immunomodulatory features, we investigated whether and how in vitro–preconditioned human MSCs (cMSCs) could treat MG disease. We developed a new humanized preclinical model by subcutaneously grafting thymic MG fragments into immunodeficient NSG mice (NSG-MG model). Ninety percent of the animals displayed human anti-AChR Abs in the serum, and 50% of the animals displayed MG-like symptoms that correlated with the loss of AChR at the muscle endplates. Interestingly, each mouse experiment recapitulated the MG features of each patient. We next demonstrated that cMSCs markedly improved MG, reducing the level of anti-AChR Abs in the serum and restoring AChR expression at the muscle endplate. Resting MSCs had a smaller effect. Finally, we showed that the underlying mechanisms involved (a) the inhibition of cell proliferation, (b) the inhibition of B cell–related and costimulatory molecules, and (c) the activation of the complement regulator DAF/CD55. In conclusion, this study shows that a preconditioning step promotes the therapeutic effects of MSCs via combined mechanisms, making cMSCs a promising strategy for treating MG and potentially other autoimmune diseases.
Muriel Sudres, Marie Maurer, Marieke Robinet, Jacky Bismuth, Frédérique Truffault, Diane Girard, Nadine Dragin, Mohamed Attia, Elie Fadel, Nicola Santelmo, Camille Sicsic, Talma Brenner, Sonia Berrih-Aknin
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is often associated with exaggerated B cell activation promoting plasma cell generation, immune-complex deposition in the kidney, renal infiltration of myeloid cells, and glomerular nephritis. Type-I IFNs amplify these autoimmune processes and promote severe disease. Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (Btk) inhibitors are considered novel therapies for SLE. We describe the characterization of a highly selective reversible Btk inhibitor, G-744. G-744 is efficacious, and superior to blocking BAFF and Syk, in ameliorating severe lupus nephritis in both spontaneous and IFNα-accelerated lupus in NZB/W_F1 mice in therapeutic regimens. Selective Btk inhibition ablated plasmablast generation, reduced autoantibodies, and — similar to cyclophosphamide — improved renal pathology in IFNα-accelerated lupus. Employing global transcriptional profiling of spleen and kidney coupled with cross-species human modular repertoire analyses, we identify similarities in the inflammatory process between mice and humans, and we demonstrate that G-744 reduced gene expression signatures essential for splenic B cell terminal differentiation, particularly the secretory pathway, as well as renal transcriptional profiles coupled with myeloid cell–mediated pathology and glomerular plus tubulointerstitial disease in human glomerulonephritis patients. These findings reveal the mechanism through which a selective Btk inhibitor blocks murine autoimmune kidney disease, highlighting pathway activity that may translate to human SLE.
Arna Katewa, Yugang Wang, Jason A. Hackney, Tao Huang, Eric Suto, Nandhini Ramamoorthi, Cary D. Austin, Meire Bremer, Jacob Zhi Chen, James J. Crawford, Kevin S. Currie, Peter Blomgren, Jason DeVoss, Julie A. DiPaolo, Jonathan Hau, Adam Johnson, Justin Lesch, Laura E. DeForge, Zhonghua Lin, Marya Liimatta, Joseph W. Lubach, Sami McVay, Zora Modrusan, Allen Nguyen, Chungkee Poon, Jianyong Wang, Lichuan Liu, Wyne P. Lee, Harvey Wong, Wendy B. Young, Michael J. Townsend, Karin Reif
Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) has been used as an animal model of multiple sclerosis to identify pathogenic cytokines that could be therapeutic targets. Granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) is the only cytokine reported to be essential for EAE. We investigated the role of GM-CSF in EAE in C3HeB/FeJ mice that uniquely exhibit extensive brain and spinal cord inflammation. Unexpectedly, GM-CSF–deficient C3HeB/FeJ mice were fully susceptible to EAE because IL-17 activity compensated for the loss of GM-CSF during induction of spinal cord–targeted disease. In contrast, both GM-CSF and IL-17 were needed to fully overcome the inhibitory influence of IFN-γ on the induction of inflammation in the brain. Both GM-CSF and IL-17 independently promoted neutrophil accumulation in the brain, which was essential for brain-targeted disease. These results identify a GM-CSF/IL-17/IFN-γ axis that regulates inflammation in the central nervous system and suggest that a combination of cytokine-neutralizing therapies may be needed to dampen central nervous system autoimmunity.
Emily R. Pierson, Joan M. Goverman
T cells play a significant role in the pathogenesis of systemic autoimmune diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus; however, there is relatively little information on the nature and specificity of autoreactive T cells. Identifying such cells has been technically difficult because they are likely to be rare and low affinity. Here, we report a method for identifying autoreactive T cell clones that recognize proteins contained in autoantibody immune complexes, providing direct evidence that functional autoreactive helper T cells exist in the periphery of normal mice. These T cells significantly enhanced autoreactive B cell proliferation and altered B cell differentiation in vivo. Most importantly, these autoreactive T cells were able to rescue many aspects of the TLR-deficient AM14 (anti-IgG2a rheumatoid factor) B cell response, suggesting that TLR requirements can be bypassed. This result has implications for the efficacy of TLR-targeted therapy in the treatment of ongoing disease.
Josephine R. Giles, Adriana Turqueti Neves, Ann Marshak-Rothstein, Mark J. Shlomchik
Levamisole, an anthelmintic drug with cholinergic properties, has been implicated in cases of drug-induced vasculitis when added to cocaine for profit purposes. Neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) formation is a cell death mechanism characterized by extrusion of chromatin decorated with granule proteins. Aberrant NET formation and degradation have been implicated in idiopathic autoimmune diseases that share features with levamisole-induced autoimmunity as well as in drug-induced autoimmunity. This study’s objective was to determine how levamisole modulates neutrophil biology and its putative effects on the vasculature. Murine and human neutrophils exposed to levamisole demonstrated enhanced NET formation through engagement of muscarinic subtype 3 receptor. Levamisole-induced NETosis required activation of Akt and the RAF/MEK/ERK pathway, ROS induction through the nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate oxidase, and peptidylarginine deiminase activation. Sera from two cohorts of patients actively using levamisole-adulterated cocaine displayed autoantibodies against NET components. Cutaneous biopsy material obtained from individuals exposed to levamisole suggests that neutrophils produce NETs in areas of vasculitic inflammation and thrombosis. NETs generated by levamisole were toxic to endothelial cells and impaired endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation. Stimulation of muscarinic receptors on neutrophils by cholinergic agonists may contribute to the pathophysiology observed in drug-induced autoimmunity through the induction of inflammatory responses and neutrophil-induced vascular damage.
Carmelo Carmona-Rivera, Monica M. Purmalek, Erica Moore, Meryl Waldman, Peter J. Walter, H. Martin Garraffo, Karran A. Phillips, Kenzie L. Preston, Jonathan Graf, Mariana J. Kaplan, Peter C. Grayson
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