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CD44 is a pro-inflammatory cell surface molecule that supports cell migration and cell lodgment in target organs. Therefore, CD44 targeting with specific monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) should be useful for the inhibition of collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) as well as other autoimmune diseases that are dependent on inflammatory cells. In the present paper, we confirm and expand previous reports showing the anti-arthritogenic effect of anti-CD44 mAbs directed against constant epitopes of the CD44 receptor. We demonstrate that such anti-CD44 mAbs can induce resistance to CIA after disease onset. Even accelerated disease developed after two injections of type II collagen was markedly inhibited by IM7.8.1 anti-CD44 mAb. Although KM81 anti-CD44 mAb is a less efficient anti-arthritogenic reagent than IM7.8.1, its Fab' fragments partially inhibit CIA. This finding implies that the antibody blocks CD44 function rather than modulating CD44 cell surface expression or mediating Fc-dependent activities. Histopathological analysis revealed that the anti-CD44 mAb markedly reduces the synovial inflammatory cellular response and the consequent damage to the joint. As CD44 is an alternatively spliced multistructural molecule, similar anti-arthritogenic effects may be achieved by mAbs directed against CD44 isoforms expressed on the pathological cells in question, but not on normal cells, thus leaving the physiological functions intact.

Original publication




Journal article


J Autoimmun

Publication Date





39 - 47


Animals, Antibodies, Monoclonal, Arthritis, Arthritis, Rheumatoid, Cattle, Collagen, Disease Models, Animal, Epitopes, Hyaluronan Receptors, Joints, Male, Mice, Mice, Inbred DBA, Mice, SCID, Protein Isoforms, Rats