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blood and hemopoietic system, dendritic cell, inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis


Dendritic cells in the circulation are leukocytes that are rich in Ia antigens and that actively stimulate T cell replication. We have identified dendritic cells in the joint effusions of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. By phase-contrast and immunofluorescence microscopy, synovial mononuclear cells contained 1-5% dendritic profiles that were rich in HLA-DR and DQ, had small amounts of C3bi receptor, and lacked a battery of monocyte and lymphocyte markers. These dendritic cells could be enriched to 60-80% purity by cytolytic depletion of monocytes and lymphocytes with a group of monoclonal antibodies (MAb) and complement. By transmission electron microscopy, the dendritic cell processes were bulbous in shape and lacked organelles. The cytoplasm had few lysosomes or endocytic vacuoles but contained a well-developed smooth reticulum that was comparable to that previously described in the Ia-rich interdigitating cells of lymphoid tissues. The growth of sodium periodate-modified T lymphocytes was used as a rapid quantitative assay of accessory cell function. Synovial mononuclear cells were some ten times more active than normal blood cells. Treatment with α-Ia MAb and complement ablated stimulatory function. In contrast, removal of monocytes (MAb, 3C10) or monocytes and B (MAb, BA-1) plus T (MAb, OKT3, or T101) lymphocytes did not significantly alter total activity, and the function per viable cell increased four- to eightfold. We conclude that rheumatoid arthritis synovial fluids contain cells that are comparable in function, phenotype, and structure to blood dendritic cells, although the frequency (1-5%) is 10 times greater in joints. The reason for their accumulation in the articular cavity is not known, but dendritic cells may be important in perpetuating the joint inflammation characteristic of this disease.


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