Background and Objectives Autoantibodies recognising citrullinated proteins (ACPA) are highly specific for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), precede the clinical onset of the disease by years and are the strongest known risk factor for bone loss. We have recently shown that ACPA specific for citrullinated vimentin directly interact with osteoclast precursors and induce bone loss. In patients with RA, ACPA-containing immune complexes can be detected in synovial fluid and tissue. We hypothesised that (I) immune complexes directly promote osteoclast maturation and, consecutively, bone loss and that (II) the type of IgG-glycan is important for the interaction with osteoclast precursors, since ACPA have been shown to be hyposialylated.
Materials and Methods We differentiated preosteoclasts from human monocytes and stimulated them with artificial immune complexes generated by heat aggregation from pooled human IgG (IVIG). Part of the IgG had been pretreated with neuraminidase or PNGase F to remove sialic acid or the whole Fc glycan, respectively. For in vivo studies we injected murine immune complexes in the knee joints of C57-BL/6 mice.
Results Stimulation of preosteoclasts with immune complexes resulted in their dramatically increased maturation to osteoclasts. This effect was even more pronounced with complexes formed from desialylated IgG. Monomeric IgG and fully deglycosylated immune complexes did not alter osteoclast maturation. qPCR and FACS-analyses revealed that all Fcγ receptors (FcγR) are upregulated during osteoclastogenesis with FcγR I and FcγR III being the most prominent ones. Desialylated immune complexes induced the activation of spleen tyrosine kinase (Syk) and phospholipase Cγ (PLCγ) as well as the upregulation of the transcription factor c-fos in preosteoclasts. Injection of murine immune complexes into the knee joints of C57-BL/6 mice caused accumulation of osteoclasts in the vicinity of the site of injection.
Conclusions Our data show that IgG immune complexes promote osteoclastogenesis. They upregulate the pro-osteoclastogenic transcription factor c-fos, after binding to activating FcγRs on preosteoclasts. This interaction is highly dependent on the absence of sialic acid in the Fc-glycan of the IgG. Altogether, we propose a novel mechanism by which ACPA promote bone loss independent of inflammation.