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OBJECTIVE: Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) signals via 2 receptors, TNFR type I (TNFRI) and TNFRII, with distinct cellular distribution and signaling functions. In rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the net effect of TNFR signaling favors inflammatory responses while inhibiting the activity of regulatory T cells. TNFRII signaling has been shown to promote Treg cell function. To assess the relative contributions of TNFRI and TNFRII signaling to inflammatory and regulatory responses in vivo, we compared the effect of TNF blockade, hence TNFRI/II, versus TNFRI alone in collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) as a model of RA. METHODS: Mice with established arthritis were treated for 10 days with anti-mouse TNFRI domain antibody (dAb; DMS5540), an isotype control dAb (DMS5538), or murine TNFRII genetically fused with mouse IgG1 Fc domain (mTNFRII-Fc) beginning on the day of arthritis onset, and disease progression was monitored. Systemic cytokine concentrations and numbers of T cell subsets in lymph nodes and spleens were measured, and intrinsic Treg cell function was determined by ex vivo suppression assays. RESULTS: Progression of CIA was suppressed similarly by TNFRI (DMS5540) and TNFRI/II (mTNFRII-Fc) blockade. However, blockade of TNFRI/II led to increased effector T cell activity, which was not observed after selective TNFRI blockade, suggesting an immunoregulatory role of TNFRII. In support of this, TNFRI blockade, but not TNFRI/II blockade, expanded and activated Treg cells. Furthermore, a dramatic increase in expression of the Treg cell signature genes FoxP3 and TNFRII was observed in joints undergoing remission, which supports the notion that these molecules have a physiologic role in the resolution of inflammation. CONCLUSION: We propose that a therapeutic strategy that targets TNFRI while sparing TNFRII has the potential to both inhibit inflammation and promote Treg cell activity, which might be superior to TNF blockade.

Original publication




Journal article


Arthritis Rheumatol

Publication Date





2728 - 2738


Animals, Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Arthritis, Experimental, Cell Proliferation, Forkhead Transcription Factors, Inflammation, Male, Mice, Mice, Inbred DBA, Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor, Type I, Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor, Type II, Recombinant Fusion Proteins, Single-Domain Antibodies, T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory, Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha