Anti-CD20 B cell depletion therapy (BCDT) is very effective for some patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA); however the pathogenic role of B lymphocytes in RA and the primary targets of BCDTare unknown. The human TNF transgenic (hTNF-Tg) mouse model of RA displays a chronic, progressive disease that spreads from distal to proximal joints and is generally considered to be adaptive immune system independent. We have previously reported that knee arthritis in hTNF-Tg mice is accompanied by structural and functional changes of the adjoining popliteal lymph node (PLN), detectable by contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging. To better understand these changes, in this paper we show that onset of knee synovitis and focal erosions are paralleled by PLN contraction and accumulation of large numbers of B cells in the lymphatic sinus spaces within the node. Flow cytometry from TNF-Tg mice 2, 4-5, and 8-12 mo old demonstrated that B cell accumulation in the PLN follows ankle arthritis, but commences before knee disease, and involves early expansion of CD21 hi, CD23+, IgMhi, CD1d+, activation marker-negative, polyclonal B cells that are found to be specifically restricted to lymph nodes draining inflamed, arthritic joints. The same B cell population also accumulates in PLNs of K/BxN mice with autoantigen-dependent arthritis. Strikingly, we show that BCDT ameliorates hTNF-Tg disease and clears follicular and CD21hi, CD23+ B cells from the PLNs. On the basis of these findings, we propose a model whereby B cells contribute to arthritis in mice, and possibly RA, by directly affecting the structure, composition, and function of jointdraining lymph nodes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy