Nodules obtained from five patients with classical seropositive rheumatoid arthritis were studied by an immunofluorescence technique using polyclonal antibodies to IgG, IgA, IgM, C3c, and fibrin, and monoclonal antibodies to the terminal (C5b-9) complement complex (reaction with a neoantigen in C9 revealed during activation), DR antigens, T cells, macrophages, and interdigitating cells. In all instances the central necrotic areas stained strongly for fibrin and more weakly for IgG, IgA, IgM, C3, and terminal complement complex. The surrounding palisading cells reacted with antibodies to DR and macrophages. In the peripheral granulomatous tissue most of the lymphocytes reacted with the antibodies to T cells, whereas various amounts of the larger mononuclear cells were stained by antibodies to DR antigens, macrophages, and interdigitating cells. In all instances the walls of some of the smaller vessels in the granulomatous tissue stained for fibrin, C3, and terminal complement complex. Plasma cells were not seen except for scattered IgM cells in one nodule. These results support the view that the palisading cells are derived from macrophages, and indicate that there is vasculitis with activation of C3 and the terminal complement pathway in the granulomatous tissue.
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