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Open Access Research article

Intra-articular CD1c-expressing myeloid dendritic cells from rheumatoid arthritis patients express a unique set of T cell-attracting chemokines and spontaneously induce Th1, Th17 and Th2 cell activity

Frederique M Moret1*, Cornelis E Hack2, Kim MG van der Wurff-Jacobs1, Wilco de Jager2, Timothy RDJ Radstake12, Floris PJG Lafeber1 and Joel AG van Roon12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Rheumatology & Clinical Immunology, University Medical Center Utrecht, PO Box 85500, 3508 GA Utrecht, the Netherlands

2 Center for Molecular and Clinical Immunology, Laboratory of Translational Immunology, University Medical Center Utrecht, PO Box 85500, 3508 GA Utrecht, the Netherlands

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2013, 15:R155  doi:10.1186/ar4338

Published: 20 October 2013

Abstract

Introduction

Myeloid dendritic cells (mDCs) are potent T cell-activating antigen-presenting cells that have been suggested to play a crucial role in the regulation of immune responses in many disease states, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Despite this, studies that have reported on the capacity of naturally occurring circulating mDCs to regulate T cell activation in RA are still lacking. This study aimed to evaluate the phenotypic and functional properties of naturally occurring CD1c (BDCA-1)+ mDCs from synovial fluid (SF) compared to those from peripheral blood (PB) of RA patients.

Methods

CD1c+ mDC numbers and expression of costimulatory molecules were assessed by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) analysis in SF and PB from RA patients. Ex vivo secretion of 45 inflammatory mediators by mDCs from SF and PB of RA patients was determined by multiplex immunoassay. The capacity of mDCs from SF to activate autologous CD4+ T cells was measured.

Results

CD1c+ mDC numbers were significantly increased in SF versus PB of RA patients (mean 4.7% vs. 0.6%). mDCs from SF showed increased expression of antigen-presenting (human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II, CD1c) and costimulatory molecules (CD80, CD86 and CD40). Numerous cytokines were equally abundantly produced by mDCs from both PB and SF (including IL-12, IL-23, IL-13, IL-21). SF mDCs secreted higher levels of interferon γ-inducible protein-10 (IP-10), monokine induced by interferon γ (MIG) and, thymus and activation-regulated chemokine (TARC), but lower macrophage-derived chemokine (MDC) levels compared to mDCs from PB. mDCs from SF displayed a strongly increased capacity to induce proliferation of CD4+ T cells associated with a strongly augmented IFNγ, IL-17, and IL-4 production.

Conclusions

This study suggests that increased numbers of CD1c+ mDCs in SF are involved in the inflammatory cascade intra-articularly by the secretion of specific T cell-attracting chemokines and the activation of self-reactive T cells.