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Absence of Fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 ligand (Flt3L) signalling protects against collagen-induced arthritis
  1. M I P Ramos1,2,
  2. O N Karpus2,
  3. P Broekstra1,2,
  4. S Aarrass1,2,
  5. S E Jacobsen3,
  6. P P Tak1,4,5,
  7. M C Lebre1,2
  1. 1Department of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, Academic Medical Center/University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  2. 2Department of Experimental Immunology, Academic Medical Center/University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  3. 3Haematopoietic Stem Cell Laboratory and MRC Molecular Haematology Unit, Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, John Radcliffe Hospital, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  4. 4Academic Medical Center/University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  5. 5University of Cambridge, UK and GlaxoSmithKline, Stevenage, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr M C Lebre, Academic Medical Center/University of Amsterdam, Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology K0-154, PO Box 22700, Amsterdam 1100 DE, The Netherlands; c.lebre{at}


Objective Comprehending the mechanisms that regulate activation of autoreactive T cells and B cell antibody production is fundamental for understanding the breakdown in self-tolerance and development of autoimmunity. Here we studied the role of Fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 ligand (Flt3L) signalling in the pathogenesis of collagen-induced arthritis (CIA).

Methods CIA was induced in mice lacking Flt3L (Flt3L−/−) and wild-type (WT) littermates (C57/BL6, 8–10 weeks old). Mice were killed in the initial phase (acute phase: experiment 1) and late phase (chronic phase: experiment 2) of the disease. Arthritis severity was assessed using a semiquantitative scoring system (0–4), and histological analysis of cellular infiltration, cartilage destruction and peptidoglycan loss was performed. Phenotypic and functional analysis of T and B cells, FoxP3 expression, activation and lymphocyte costimulatory markers, and cytokine production were performed ex vivo by flow cytometry in lymph nodes. Serum collagen type II (CII)-specific antibodies were measured by ELISA.

Results Flt3L−/− mice showed a marked decrease in clinical arthritis scores and incidence of arthritis in both acute and chronic phases of CIA compared with WT mice. Moreover, decreased synovial inflammation and joint destruction was observed. Both the magnitude and quality of T cell responses were altered in Flt3L−/−. In the acute phase, the amount of CII-specific IgG2a antibodies was lower in Flt3L−/− than WT mice.

Conclusions These results strongly suggest a role for Flt3L signalling in the development of arthritis.

  • Arthritis
  • Inflammation
  • Cytokines
  • T Cells
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