The TNF-α transgenic mouse model of inflammatory arthritis
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- Li, P. & Schwarz, E.M. Springer Semin Immunopathol (2003) 25: 19. doi:10.1007/s00281-003-0125-3
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Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that affects multiple peripheral joints. It is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis and is characterized by synovial hyperplasia, immune cell infiltration, cartilage destruction, and bone erosion. To gain insight into the etiology of the disease, a variety of animal models have been established. Twelve years ago George Kollias’ laboratory generated a transgenic (Tg) mouse that over-expresses human TNF-α, and develops an erosive polyarthritis with many characteristics observed in rheumatoid arthritis patients. The phenotype of this mouse model validated the theory that TNF-α is at the apex of the pro-inflammatory cascade in rheumatoid arthritis, and foreshadowed the remarkable success of anti-TNF-α therapy that has transformed the effective management of this disease. As such, the TNF-Tg mice are very useful tools for dissecting the molecular mechanisms of the pathogenic process and evaluating the efficacy of novel therapeutic strategies for rheumatoid arthritis. In this review we (1) provide a brief summary of TNF-α biology and the role of this dominant cytokine in rheumatoid arthritis, (2) describe the various TNF-Tg models and their phenotypes, and (3) give examples of how this model has been used experimentally.