Initiation of an autoimmune response
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K/BxN mice develop an inflammatory joint disease with many features characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis. This model is based on a T-cell receptor transgene, KRN, that has been shown to recognize both the foreign antigen bovine RNase, and the ubiquitously expressed self antigen, glucose-6-phosphate isomerase (GPI). We have used this model to investigate the initial events that occur during the autoimmune response to GPI. We and others have identified key mediators in the inflammatory response: Fc receptors (FcRs) (in particular FcRIII), the alternative pathway of complement, neutrophils, and mast cells. Using micro position emission tomography, we demonstrated that anti-GPI Immunoglobulin G (IgG) localizes specifically to the joints where arthritis occurs and that this localization is dependent on mast cells, neutrophils, FcRs, and immune complexes. The trigger of arthritis in this model is the KRN T-cell inducing the production of anti-GPI Ig. By overexpressing the ligand for the KRN T-cells in major histocompatibility complex class II-expressing cells, we demonstrated that KRN T-cells were able to escape tolerance induction in the thymus owing to insufficient levels of antigen in the thymus antigen-presenting cells. This allows the KRN T-cells to exit to the periphery, where they provide help to anti-GPI B-cells, inducing the production of arthritogenic Ig. To understand the joint specificity of the disease, we followed the anti-GPI B-cell response that naturally arises in K/BxN mice and showed that, although the GPI antigen is ubiquitously expressed, the anti-GPI B-cell response is foucused on the lymph nodes draining the affected joints. Together, these studies have given us a greater understanding of how an autoimmune response is initiated at the level of both the adaptive and innate immune systems and demonstrate the versatility of the K/BxN arthritis model for studying human disease.
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- Initiation of an autoimmune response
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