Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) is a key cytokine in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) pathogenesis, as underscored by the clinical effectiveness of TNF antagonists. While several of TNF's key targets in RA are well understood, its many pleiotropic effects remain to be elucidated. TNF-transgenic mice develop inflammatory-erosive arthritis associated with disruption of draining lymph node histology and function, and accumulation of B cells with unique phenotypic and functional features consistent with contribution to pathogenesis (B cells in inflamed nodes, Bin). Bin cell induction depends on the inflamed microenvironment, but the specific signals are unknown. Using anti-TNF treatment and TNF-receptor-deficient mice, here we show that Bin cells are induced and maintained independently of B cell-intrinsic TNF signals.
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