Soluble human p55 and p75 tumor necrosis factor receptors reverse spontaneous arthritis in transgenic mice expressing transmembrane tumor necrosis factor alpha

Arthritis Rheum. 2006 Sep;54(9):2872-85. doi: 10.1002/art.22077.


Objective: The roles of the transmembrane and secreted forms of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) remain unclear. Agents used to inhibit TNFalpha have shown varying efficacy in RA patients, suggesting that anti-TNFalpha agents possess dissimilar mechanisms of action, including the ability to neutralize transmembrane (tmTNFalpha) and secreted TNFalpha. In this study, TNFalpha-knockout (TNFalpha-KO) mice that were genetically altered to express elevated levels of tmTNFalpha were constructed to further understand the roles of the 17-kd secreted, trimeric, and 26-kd transmembrane forms of TNFalpha.

Methods: A speed-congenic mating scheme was used to generate 3 unique strains of mice: 1) transgenic tmTgA86 mice overexpressing 26-kd tmTNFalpha and also secreting 17-kd trimeric TNFalpha (tmTNFalpha-transgenic), 2) TNFalpha-/- mice (TNFalpha-KO), and 3) transgenic mice overexpressing tmTNFalpha backcrossed to TNFalpha-KO mice (tmTNFalpha-transgenic/TNFalpha-KO). Mice were treated with phosphate buffered saline (as vehicle control), dexamethasone (as positive control), or modified recombinant human soluble TNF receptor (sTNFR) p55 or p75, and were assessed clinically and histopathologically for signs of inflammation and development of arthritis.

Results: The tmTNFalpha-transgenic/TNFalpha-KO mice were born with crinkled tails and spinal deformities similar to those in ankylosing spondylitis. By 2-4 weeks, these mice developed symmetric inflammatory arthritis, characterized by tissue swelling, pannus formation, and bone deformities. The tmTNFalpha-transgenic mice also developed spontaneous-onset arthritis, but at a slower rate (100% incidence by 10-12 weeks). Clinical and histologic progression of arthritis in the tmTNFalpha-transgenic/TNFalpha-KO mice was reduced by treatment with dexamethasone or with the p55 or p75 sTNFR (69% and 63% reduction in total histologic score, respectively).

Conclusion: These data show that arthritis is sufficiently initiated and maintained in tmTNFalpha-transgenic/TNFalpha-KO mice, and that it can be neutralized by recombinant human p55 or p75 sTNFR, resulting in amelioration of the biologic and subsequent histologic destructive effects of tmTNFalpha.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arthritis, Experimental / therapy*
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Receptor, Nerve Growth Factor / therapeutic use*
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor, Type II / therapeutic use*
  • Remission, Spontaneous
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / deficiency*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / genetics*


  • Receptor, Nerve Growth Factor
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor, Type II
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha