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AB0021 Human T cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) exacerbates rheumatoid arthritis; exosomes and IFN-GAMMA derived from HTLV-1 infected cells enhance the inflammatory response of rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts via pattern recognition receptor, RIG-I
  1. K Umekita,
  2. S Miyauchi,
  3. K Kubo,
  4. A Kawano,
  5. K Iwao,
  6. M Komura,
  7. M Matsuda,
  8. I Takajo,
  9. H Nomura,
  10. Y Nagatomo,
  11. A Okayama
  1. Division of Rheumatology, Infectious Diseases and Laboratory Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan


Background Human T cell leukemia type 1 (HTLV-1) positive rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients show severe inflammatory state and resistance to anti-rheumatic therapy, including biologic agents (1). HTLV-1 infected T cells was increased in the synovial fluid and tissue from an HTLV-1 positive RA patients (2). However the mechanism of worsening RA by HTLV-1 infection remains unclear. We focused on the role of HTLV-1 infected T cells as a key player in the exacerbation of RA.

Objectives To clarify the role of HTLV-1 infected T cells in the pathogenesis of RA. We investigate inflammatory mediators derived from HTLV-1 infected cells.

Methods Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were collected from asymptomatic HTLV-1 carriers (AC) (n=5) and healthy subjects (HS) (n=5). Rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts (RASFs) were co-cultured with PBMCs for 5 days. Cytokine profiles of supernatants were analyzed by multiplex. Exosomes were isolated and purified from cultured medium of HTLV-1 infected cell line (MT2). RASF was cultured with MT2 derived exosomes with and without IFN-gamma for 24hours. Total RNA was extracted using TRIZOL method. The expression of RIG-I, IL-6, CXCL10, and CCL5 mRNA in RASF was measured using real-time quantitative PCR. The expression of pattern recognition receptor, RIG-I was determined by immune blotting. Silencing of RIG-I in RASF was performed by transfection of siRNA against RIG-I.

Results The levels of cytokine, including IFN-gamma, IL-2, IL-9, IL-13, IL-6, and CCL20, were higher in supernatants co-cultured with HTLV-1 positive PBMCs than in those of negative PBMC (p<0.05). The expression of CXCL10 and IL-6 mRNA was increased in RASF co-cultured with HTLV-1 positive PBMCs compared to those of negative PBMCs. IFN-gamma is well known to be an important cytokine in the pathogenesis of HTLV-1 associated inflammatory diseases. IFN-gamma induced the expression of IL-6, CCL5, and CXCL10 mRNA in RASF. HTLV-1 infected cell line, MT2, autonomously released a large amount of exosomes which contain nucleic acids such as RNA and DNA. MT2 derived exosomes significantly enhanced the expression of CXCL10 mRNA, but not IL-6 and CCL5, in RASF activated by IFN-gamma. Therefore, we hypothesized that exosomes play the role of ligand for pattern recognition receptors. IFN-gamma increased the expression of RIG-I protein in RASF in a dose-dependent manner. The expression of RIG-I protein also increased in RASF co-cultured with HTLV-1 positive PBMCs compared to those of negative PBMCs. Finally, the silencing of RIG-I suppressed the expression of CXCL10 in RASF induced by co-stimulation of both exosomes and IFN-gamma.

Conclusions It is possible that HTLV-1 infected T cells exacerbate the inflammatory responses of RASFs. Exosomes derived from HTLV-1 infected cells enhance the expression of CXCL10 in RASF induced by IFN-gamma via pattern recognition receptor, RIG-I.


  1. Umekita K, et al. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2014 May;66(5):788–92.

  2. Yakova M, et al. Retrovirology. 2005 Feb 1;2:4.


Disclosure of Interest None declared

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