Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic autoimmune disease and its targeting of the joints indicates the presence of a candidate autoantigen(s) in synovial joints. Patients with RA show immune responses in their peripheral blood to proteoglycan (PG) aggrecan. One of the most relevant animal models of RA appears to be proteoglycan-induced arthritis (PGIA), and CD4+ T cells seem to play a crucial role in the initiation of the disease. In this review, the role of various T cell epitopes of aggrecan in the induction of autoreactive T cell activation and arthritis is discussed. We pay special attention to two critically important arthritogenic epitopes, 5/4E8 and P135H, found in the G1 and G3 domains of PG aggrecan, respectively, in the induction of autoimmune arthritis. Finally, results obtained with the recently developed PG-specific TCR transgenic mice system showed that altered T cell apoptosis, the balance of activation, and apoptosis of autoreactive T cells are critical factors in the development of autoimmunity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)