One of the therapeutic strategies under development for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis is based on reinstating immune tolerance by vaccination with autologous dendritic cells with potent tolerogenic function. These tolerogenic dendritic cells (TolDC) can be generated ex vivo and have beneficial therapeutic effects in animal models of arthritis. Although experimental animal models have been instrumental in the development of this novel immunotherapeutic tool, several outstanding questions regarding the application of TolDC remain to be addressed. This paper reviews what has been learnt to date from studying the therapeutic potential of TolDC in animal models of arthritis and discusses issues relating to preventive versus curative effects of TolDC, the antigen specificity of TolDC therapy, the route, dose and frequency of TolDC administration and the safety of TolDC treatment. Lessons learnt from animal models will aid the design of clinical trials with TolDC.
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Funding The authors were funded by MRC grant G0601211.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.