The Role of Macrophages in the Response to TNF Inhibition in Experimental Arthritis [IMMUNE SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT]


The reduction of synovial tissue macrophages is a reliable biomarker for clinical improvement in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and macrophages are reduced in synovial tissue shortly after initiation of TNF inhibitors. The mechanism for this initial response is unclear. These studies were performed to identify the mechanisms responsible for the initial reduction of macrophages following TNF inhibition, positing that efflux to draining lymph nodes was involved. RA synovial tissue and synovial fluid macrophages expressed CCR7, which was increased in control macrophages following incubation with TNF-α. Human TNF transgenic (hTNF-Tg) mice were treated with infliximab after development of arthritis. Ankles were harvested and examined by histology, immunohistochemistry, quantitative RT-PCR, ELISA, and flow cytometry. hTNF-Tg mice treated with infliximab demonstrated significant clinical and histologic improvement 3 d after the initiation of therapy, at which time Ly6C+ macrophages were significantly reduced in the ankles. However, no evidence was identified to support a role of macrophage efflux to draining lymph nodes following treatment with infliximab. In contrast, apoptosis of Ly6C+ macrophages in the ankles and popliteal lymph nodes, decreased migration of monocytes into the ankles, and a reduction of CCL2 were identified following the initiation of infliximab. These observations demonstrate that Ly6C+ macrophage apoptosis and decreased ingress of circulating monocytes into the joint are responsible for the initial reduction of macrophages following infliximab treatment in hTNF-Tg mice.


  • This work was supported by National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease Grant R21AR065076.

  • The online version of this article contains supplemental material.

  • Abbreviations used in this article:

    7-aminoactinomycin D
    human TNF transgenic
    popliteal lymph node
    rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Received February 16, 2017.
  • Accepted October 19, 2017.

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