Therapeutic effect of tolerogenic dendritic cells in established collagen-induced arthritis is associated with a reduction in Th17 responses

Arthritis Rheum. 2010 Dec;62(12):3656-65. doi: 10.1002/art.27756.


Objective: Tolerogenic dendritic cells (DCs) are antigen-presenting cells with an immunosuppressive function. They are a promising immunotherapeutic tool for the attenuation of pathogenic T cell responses in autoimmune arthritis. The aims of this study were to determine the therapeutic action of tolerogenic DCs in a type II collagen-induced arthritis model and to investigate their effects on Th17 cells and other T cell subsets in mice with established arthritis.

Methods: Tolerogenic DCs were generated by treating bone marrow-derived DCs with dexamethasone and vitamin D(3) during lipopolysaccharide-induced maturation. Mice with established arthritis received 3 intravenous injections of tolerogenic DCs, mature DCs, or saline. Arthritis severity was monitored for up to 4 weeks after treatment. Fluorescence-labeled tolerogenic DCs were used for in vivo trafficking studies. The in vivo effect of tolerogenic DCs on splenic T cell populations was determined by intracellular cytokine staining and flow cytometry.

Results: Tolerogenic DCs displayed a semi-mature phenotype, produced low levels of inflammatory cytokines, and exhibited low T cell stimulatory capacity. Upon intravenous injection into arthritic mice, tolerogenic DCs migrated to the spleen, liver, lung, feet, and draining lymph nodes. Treatment of arthritic mice with type II collagen-pulsed tolerogenic DCs, but not unpulsed tolerogenic DCs or mature DCs, significantly inhibited disease severity and progression. This improvement coincided with a significant decrease in the number of Th17 cells and an increase in the number of interleukin-10-producing CD4+ T cells, whereas tolerogenic DC treatment had no detectable effect on Th1 cells or interleukin-17-producing γ/δ T cells.

Conclusion: Treatment with type II collagen-pulsed tolerogenic DCs decreases the proportion of Th17 cells in arthritic mice and simultaneously reduces the severity and progression of arthritis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arthritis, Experimental / pathology*
  • Arthritis, Experimental / physiopathology
  • Arthritis, Experimental / therapy*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Cell- and Tissue-Based Therapy*
  • Dendritic Cells / cytology
  • Dendritic Cells / drug effects
  • Dendritic Cells / physiology*
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Immunotherapy*
  • Interleukin-10 / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred DBA
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Th17 Cells / pathology*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vitamin D / pharmacology


  • Interleukin-10
  • Vitamin D
  • Dexamethasone