Specific recognition and removal of apoptotic cells is a process that occurs throughout life in all tissues, as part of homeostasis and during pathological conditions. In active rheumatoid arthritis, apoptotic cells are seen in the synovial fluid of human patients and in mice with experimental arthritis, but their contribution to disease severity is not well understood. Recently, many components of apoptotic cell clearance machinery have been identified. Using global and conditional knockout mouse strains and primary cell cultures, we have addressed specific components of the engulfment machinery for their role in rheumatoid arthritis. We observe that molecules linked to apoptotic cell clearance can affect both the extent of inflammation and bone erosion seen during arthritis in mouse models. These data suggest that targeting the components of the engulfment machinery might be a viable therapeutic approach.
Disclosure of Interest None declared