Cartilage-binding antibodies initiate joint inflammation and promote chronic erosive arthritis

Arthritis Res Ther. 2020 May 24;22(1):120. doi: 10.1186/s13075-020-02169-0.


Background: Antibodies binding to cartilage proteins are present in the blood and synovial fluid of early rheumatoid arthritis patients. In order to develop animal models mimicking the human disease, we have characterized the arthritogenic capacity of monoclonal antibodies directed towards different joint proteins in the cartilage.

Methods: Purified antibodies specific to unmodified or citrullinated collagen type II (CII), collagen type XI (CXI), and cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP) were produced as culture supernatant, affinity purified, pooled as antibody cocktails (Cab3 and Cab4), and injected intravenously into mice to induce arthritis. An adjuvant (lipopolysaccharide or mannan) was subsequently injected intraperitoneally on either day 5 or day 60 to enhance arthritis. Antibody binding and complement activation on the cartilage surface were analyzed by immunohistochemical methods. Bone erosions and joint deformations were analyzed by histological assessments, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, and micro-CT. Luminex was used to detect CII-triple helical epitope-specific antibody responses.

Results: The new cartilage antibody cocktails induced an earlier and more severe disease than anti-CII antibody cocktail. Many of the mouse strains used developed severe arthritis with 3 antibodies, binding to collagen II, collagen XI, and cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (the Cab3 cocktail). Two new models of arthritis including Cab3-induced LPS-enhanced arthritis (lpsCAIA) and Cab3-induced mannan-enhanced arthritis (mCAIA) were established, causing severe bone erosions and bone loss, as well as epitope spreading of the B cell response. Cab4, with addition of an antibody to citrullinated collagen II, induced arthritis more efficiently in moderately susceptible C57BL/6 J mice.

Conclusions: The new mouse model for RA induced with cartilage antibodies allows studies of chronic development of arthritis and epitope spreading of the autoimmune response and bone erosion.

Keywords: Animal models; Antibodies; Cartilage; Collagen; Rheumatoid arthritis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arthritis, Experimental*
  • Autoantibodies
  • Cartilage
  • Collagen
  • Collagen Type II
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL


  • Autoantibodies
  • Collagen Type II
  • Collagen