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Splenectomy at Early stage of Autoimmune Arthritis Delayed Inflammatory Response and Reduced Joint Deterioration in Mice.

The spleen plays a role in innate- and adaptive immunity, and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We investigated the effect of splenectomy in early and moderate stages of autoimmune arthritis in a mouse model. To induce recombinant human G1-induced arthritis (GIA), BALB/c mice were immunized intraperitoneally three times in 4 weeks interval with the rhG1 antigen. Mice were splenectomized on day 7 (SPE1) or day 35 (SPE2) after the initiation of immunization, and were tested for clinical severity, joint radiological- and histological changes, serum levels of inflammatory cytokines and autoantibodies, and rhG1-specific immune responses, and compared to those in control mice with spleen left intact. Circulating Tregs and T-helper subset ratios in the spleen and inguinal lymph nodes were also examined using flow cytometry. The onset of severe inflammatory response was significantly delayed in SPE1 and SPE2 groups compared to control mice at early stages of GIA, which was associated with increased circulating Tregs. After the third immunization, as disease progressed, the severity scores were robustly increased in all mice. Nevertheless, in splenectomized mice, we observed reduced joint deterioration and cartilage damage, more Th2 cells in lymph nodes, and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and autoantibodies in their sera. Mesenteric lymph node cells of splenectomized mice exhibited weaker response in vitro against the rhG1 antigen compared to control mice spleen. In conclusion, splenectomy in early stages of GIA delayed the inflammatory response, suggesting a protective effect against the development and progression of severe destructive arthritis.

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