Dendritic cells (DCs) are crucial for the initiation of T cell immunity and therefore play an important role in the initiation and regulation of immune responses in arthritis. Full mobilization of effector T cells depends on the proper maturation of DCs. Current evidence indicates that the type of T cell response induced is crucially dependent on the activation status of the DCs. In this study, we explored the immunologic effects of differentially matured DCs on the development of collagen-induced arthritis (CIA).
Bone marrow–derived DCs were cultured in the presence of granulocyte–macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF). Before immunization with bovine type II collagen (CII) protein, mice were repeatedly injected with DCs that had been pulsed with CII. Immature, semimature, or fully mature DCs were injected. Mice were boosted on day 21 after CII immunization, and the disease course was monitored.
While vaccination with immature or lipopolysaccharide-activated DCs had no significant effect on the disease course, administration of antigen-loaded, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)–modulated DCs propagated in GM-CSF with or without interleukin-4 resulted in a delayed onset of arthritis and a lower clinical score. The response was antigen-specific, since TNF-treated DCs pulsed with a control antigen did not modify the disease course. A specific decrease in the collagen-specific “Th1-associated” IgG2a response was observed, whereas IgG1 titers were unaffected.
CIA can be prevented through vaccination with TNF-matured DCs in an antigen-specific manner. These findings provide a rationale for immunotherapy using DCs in rheumatoid arthritis.