Objective: To examine the role of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF alpha), interleukin-1 alpha (IL-1 alpha), and IL-1 beta in collagen-induced arthritis (CIA), immediately after onset and during the phase of established arthritis.
Methods: Male DBA/1 mice with collagen-induced arthritis were treated with antibodies against murine TNF alpha and IL-1 alpha/beta at different time points of the disease. IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) was administered using Alzet osmotic minipumps. The effect of anticytokine treatment was monitored by visual scoring. Histology and cytokine reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analyses were performed at the end of the treatment period.
Results: Anti-TNF alpha treatment showed efficacy shortly after onset of the disease, but had little effect on fully established CIA. Histologic analysis after early treatment revealed that anti-TNF alpha significantly reduced joint pathology, as determined by infiltration of inflammatory cells and cartilage damage. Anti-IL-1 alpha/beta treatment ameliorated both early and full-blown CIA. This clear suppression of established arthritis was confirmed by administration of high doses of IL-1Ra. Dose-response experiments showed that a continuous supply of 1 mg/day was needed for optimal suppression. Histologic analysis showed markedly reduced cartilage destruction both in the knee and the ankle joints. Autoradiography demonstrated full recovery of chondrocyte synthetic function of articular cartilage. In addition, we found that the IL-1 beta isoform plays a dominant role in established CIA. Profound suppression of CIA was observed with anti-IL-1 beta, although elimination of both IL-1 alpha and IL-1 beta still gave better protection. Analysis of messenger RNA with RT-PCR revealed that IL-1 beta was highly upregulated in synovium and cartilage at late stages of CIA, whereas anti-IL-1 beta treatment markedly reduced IL-1 beta message in the synovium.
Conclusion: The present study identified different TNF alpha/IL-1 dependencies in various stages of CIA and revealed that blocking of TNF alpha does not necessarily eliminate IL-1. Continuous, high doses of IL-1Ra are needed to block CIA.