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OBJECTIVE: Anti-tumor necrosis factor alpha (anti-TNFalpha) therapy is very effective in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), whereas depleting anti-CD4 therapy is relatively ineffective. To explain the differences in efficacy between these 2 therapies, we used an animal model of RA to compare their effects on different aspects of the disease process. METHODS: Mice with collagen-induced arthritis were treated with depleting anti-CD4 monoclonal antibodies (mAb), anti-TNFalpha mAb, or phosphate buffered saline. Another group was given a combination of anti-TNFalpha plus anti-CD4. The treatments were compared for their ability to down-regulate the expression of proinflammatory cytokines and adhesion molecules, reduce the cellularity of the joint, and inhibit Th1 activity. RESULTS: Anti-TNFalpha significantly reduced the numbers of cells expressing TNFalpha, interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta), very late activation antigen 4 (VLA-4), vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1), and numbers of CD4+ T cells and macrophages in the joint. Anti-CD4 treatment led to a small reduction in the expression of TNFalpha, IL-1beta, VLA-4, and VCAM-1, but this did not reach statistical significance. Depleting anti-CD4 was also surprisingly ineffective in eliminating CD4+ T cells from the joint. Anti-TNFalpha therapy was also more effective than anti-CD4 in reducing Thl activity, as assessed by the production of interferon-gamma in lymph node cell cultures. There was a synergistic relationship between anti-TNFalpha and anti-CD4 in the reduction of histologic score and inhibition of TNFalpha/IL-1beta expression in the joints. CONCLUSION: The efficacy of the 3 treatments correlated with their ability to modulate the expression of inflammatory cytokines and adhesion molecules in the joint, reduce the cellularity of the joint, and inhibit Th1 activity. This kind of analysis may prove useful in the testing of novel therapies for RA.

Original publication




Journal article


Arthritis rheum

Publication Date





638 - 644


Animals, Antibodies, Arthritis, Rheumatoid, CD4 Antigens, Collagen, Drug Therapy, Combination, Immunohistochemistry, Inguinal Canal, Integrin alpha4beta1, Integrins, Interferon-gamma, Joints, Lymph Nodes, Male, Mice, Mice, Inbred DBA, Receptors, Lymphocyte Homing, Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha, Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1