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Gene expression profiling in murine autoimmune arthritis during the initiation and progression of joint inflammation

Vyacheslav A Adarichev1, Csaba Vermes1, Anita Hanyecz1, Katalin Mikecz1, Eric G Bremer2 and Tibor T Glant1*

Author affiliations

1 Section of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois, USA

2 Children's Memorial Institute for Education and Research, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, USA

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Citation and License

Arthritis Res Ther 2005, 7:R196-R207  doi:10.1186/ar1472

Published: 14 December 2004


We present here an extensive study of differential gene expression in the initiation, acute and chronic phases of murine autoimmune arthritis with the use of high-density oligonucleotide arrays interrogating the entire mouse genome. Arthritis was induced in severe combined immunodeficient mice by using adoptive transfer of lymphocytes from proteoglycan-immunized arthritic BALB/c mice. In this unique system only proteoglycan-specific lymphocytes are transferred from arthritic mice into syngeneic immunodeficient recipients that lack adaptive immunity but have intact innate immunity on an identical (BALB/c) genetic background.

Differential gene expression in response to donor lymphocytes that migrated into the joint can therefore be monitored in a precisely timed manner, even before the onset of inflammation. The initiation phase of adoptively transferred disease (several days before the onset of joint swelling) was characterized by differential expression of 37 genes, mostly related to chemokines, interferon-γ and tumor necrosis factor-α signaling, and T cell functions. These were designated early arthritis 'signature' genes because they could distinguish between the naive and the pre-arthritic state. Acute joint inflammation was characterized by at least twofold overexpression of 256 genes and the downregulation of 21 genes, whereas in chronic arthritis a total of 418 genes with an equal proportion of upregulated and downregulated transcripts were expressed differentially.

Hierarchical clustering and functional classification of inflammation-related and arthritis-related genes indicated that the most common biological activities were represented by genes encoding interleukins, chemokine receptors and ligands, and by those involved in antigen recognition and processing.

DNA expression array; differential gene expression; inflammation; arthritis-related genes; rheumatoid arthritis