Objective B cell depletion therapy ameliorates rheumatoid arthritis by mechanisms that are incompletely understood. Arthritis flare in tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-transgenic mice is associated with efferent lymph node (LN) "collapse," triggered by B cell translocation into lymphatic spaces and decreased lymphatic drainage. The aim of this study was to examine whether the efficacy of B cell depletion therapy is associated with restoration of lymphatic drainage due to removal of obstructing nodal B cells. Methods We used contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging, indocyanine green near-infrared imaging, and intravital immunofluorescence imaging to longitudinally assess synovitis, lymphatic flow, and cell migration in lymphatic vessels in TNF-transgenic mice. We conducted tests to determine whether the efficacy of B cell depletion therapy is associated with restoration of lymphatic draining and cell egress from arthritic joints. Results Unlike active lymphatics to normal and prearthritic knees, afferent lymphatic vessels to collapsed LNs in inflamed knees do not pulse. Intravital immunofluorescence imaging demonstrated that CD11b+ monocyte/macrophages in lymphatic vessels afferent to expanding LNs travel at high velocity (mean ± SD 186 ± 37 μm/second), while these cells are stationary in lymphatic vessels afferent to collapsed popliteal LNs. B cell depletion therapy for arthritis flares in TNF-transgenic mice significantly decreased knee synovium volume (by 50% from the baseline level) and significantly increased lymphatic clearance compared with placebo (P < 0.05). This increased lymphatic drainage restored macrophage egress from inflamed joints without recovery of the lymphatic pulse. Conclusion These results support a novel mechanism in which B cell depletion therapy for joint arthritis flares lessens inflammation by increasing lymphatic drainage and subsequent migration of cells and cytokines from the synovial space.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy
- Pharmacology (medical)