This study details the suppressive mechanism involved in the antigen-specific suppression of collagen-induced arthritis. Intravenous injection of 500 micrograms of soluble native type II collagen 3 d before immunization with native type II collagen emulsified in complete Freund's adjuvant resulted in animals with decreased in vitro cellular and humoral immune response to native and denatured type II collagen compared with control groups. Control groups were composed of animals preinoculated with saline and type I collagen and established the antigen-specific nature of the observed suppression. Mice with reduced immune responses to type II collagen also were observed to portray little or no erythema and edema associated with collagen-induced arthritis. Adoptive transfer experiments established the requirement of T cells for the suppression of collagen-induced arthritis. Analysis of the phenotype of responding splenic cells in chronic immunotherapeutically suppressed mice in vitro revealed that responding cells were Ly1-2+ (suppressor/cytotoxic) T cells. On the other hand, the cellular phenotype of T cells responding to type II collagen in nonsuppressed collagen-induced arthritic mice was Ly1+2- (helper/inducer T cells). The data indicate that type II collagen-specific T cells are generated on intravenous inoculation of soluble native type II collagen. These cells are observed in type II collagen-immune animals, which are nonarthritic and portray reduced humoral and in vitro cellular immune response to type II collagen. This study suggests that specific suppression of immune responses to type II collagen by T-suppressor cells can be immunotherapeutic in certain forms of arthritis.
T F Kresina, R W Moskowitz