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OP0329 Involvement of t helper 17 cells in inflammatory arthritis depends on the host intestinal microbiota
  1. H Evans-Marin1,
  2. R Rogier2,
  3. J Scher1,
  4. D Roeleveld2,
  5. M Koenders2,
  6. S Abdollahi-Roodsaz1 2
  1. 1Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, New York, United States
  2. 2Rheumatology, Radboud university medical center, Nijmegen, Netherlands


Background Intestinal microbiota have been associated with psoriatic and rheumatoid arthritis. One of the major effects of microbiota is the induction of mucosal T helper 17 (Th17) cells. We therefore reasoned that the efficiacy of Th17-targeted therapies in arthritis may depend on the host microbiota. Previous studies focused on the role of the cytokine interleukin-17A (IL-17), rather than Th17 cells, by using IL-17 inhibitors or IL-17-deficient mice. Therefore, the role of Th17 cells, which produce multiple pro-inflammatory mediators in addition to IL-17, is not yet fully understood.

Objectives The aim of this study was to determine the role of Th17 cells, beyond the cytokine IL-17, in arthritis, and to investigate whether Th17 cells are differentially involved in arthritis depending on the microbiota present.

Methods We established conditional Th17-deficient mice, which exhibit a CD4-Cre-induced floxing of a part of the Rorc allele that encodes the Th17 master regulator RORγt. We compared the development of collagen-induced arthritis in Th17-deficient (CD4-Cre+ Rorcflox/flox) and -sufficient (CD4-Cre- Rorcflox/flox) littermate mice, either colonized with known Th17 cell inducers segmented filamentous bacteria (SFB) or harboring the SFB-free Jackson microbiota. The abundance of Th1 and Th17 cells and the production of IL-17, IFNγ and GM-CSF were quantified by flow cytometry and multiplex cytokine assay.

Results CD4-Cre+ Rorcflox/flox mice had significantly lower Th17, but similar Th1 cell abundance, in intestinal lamina propria compared with Cre- littermate controls. Surprisingly, the total amount of IL-17A production by all lamina propria cells during arthritis was rather increased in Th17-deficient mice, with CD8+ T cells and Gr1+ neutrophils being the main alternative sources of IL-17. Despite this increased total IL-17 levels, conditional Th17-deficient mice developed a less severe arthritis compared with Th17-sufficient mice when intestinal microbiota comprised SFB. This suggests a role for Th17 cells in inflammatory arthritis distinct from IL-17. Accordingly, synovial inflammation, cartilage destruction and proteoglycan depletion were reduced in SFB-colonized Th17-deficient mice. While the production of IL-17 by joint-draining lymph node cells stimulated with PMA and ionomycin was similar between Th17-sufficient and –deficient mice, cells from the latter group produced significantly less IL-17 upon antigen-specific stimulation with type II collagen. Furthermore, the production of GM-CSF, another Th17 cell-derived cytokine, was significantly lower in the lymph nodes of Th17-deficient mice, an effect associated with the protection against arthritis. Importantly, substitution of the intestinal microbiota with SFB-free Jackson microbiota resulted in the loss of Th17 cell dependency of arthritis as Th17-sufficient and –deficient mice showed similar disease progression under this condition.

Conclusions These data suggest that Th17 cells may mediate inflammatory arthritis partly through IL-17-independent mechanisms. Our observations also suggest that the involvement of Th17 cells in arthritis depends on the microbiota subset present in the host. Therefore, a microbiome-guided stratification of rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis patients might improve the efficacy of Th17 (or IL-17)-targeted therapies.

Disclosure of Interest None declared

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