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Regulatory eosinophils induce the resolution of experimental arthritis and appear in remission state of human rheumatoid arthritis


Objectives Eosinophils possess pro-inflammatory functions in asthma. However, our recent studies have suggested that innate lymphoid cells type 2 (ILC2s) and eosinophils have proresolving properties in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Nothing is known yet about the mechanisms determining the double-edged role of eosinophils. Therefore, we investigated whether asthma, a paradigm eosinophilic disease, can elicit resolution of chronic arthritis.

Methods Ovalbumin-triggered eosinophilic asthma was combined with K/BxN serum-induced arthritis, where lung and synovial eosinophil subsets were compared by single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq). To investigate the involvement of the ILC2–interleukin-5 (IL-5) axis, hydrodynamic injection (HDI) of IL-25 and IL-33 plasmids, IL-5 reporter mice and anti-IL-5 antibody treatment were used. In patients with RA, the presence of distinct eosinophil subsets was examined in peripheral blood and synovial tissue. Disease activity of patients with RA with concomitant asthma was monitored before and after mepolizumab (anti-IL-5 antibody) therapy.

Results The induction of eosinophilic asthma caused resolution of murine arthritis and joint tissue protection. ScRNA-seq revealed a specific subset of regulatory eosinophils (rEos) in the joints, distinct from inflammatory eosinophils in the lungs. Mechanistically, synovial rEos expanded on systemic upregulation of IL-5 released by lung ILC2s. Eosinophil depletion abolished the beneficial effect of asthma on arthritis. rEos were consistently present in the synovium of patients with RA in remission, but not in active stage. Remarkably, in patients with RA with concomitant asthma, mepolizumab treatment induced relapse of arthritis.

Conclusion These findings point to a hitherto undiscovered proresolving signature in an eosinophil subset that stimulates arthritis resolution.

  • arthritis
  • rheumatoid
  • inflammation
  • immune system diseases
  • cytokines
  • autoimmune diseases

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