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Objective: adhesion mechanisms play a central role in the recruitment of leukocytes which characteristically infiltrate rheumatoid synovium. Therefore, we adapted an animal model, in which human rheumatoid synovium was transplanted into severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice, to study the effects of Tumor Necrosis Factor-α (TNF-α) in modulating leukocyte migration and to investigate the chemotactic potential of Stromal Derived Factor-1α (SDF-1α). Materials and Methods: human synovium samples, obtained from patients undergoing joint replacement, were divided into two parts. One was analysed by immunohistology and the other was implanted subcutaneously into SCID mice under general anaesthesia. Four weeks post-transplantation, grafts were injected with optimal dose of SDF-1, TNF-α or saline (negative control). At the same time, animals were injected iv with fluorescently labelled cells. 48 hours later mice were sacrificed and grafts removed for cryo-hystology. The number of cells migrating to the grafts was determined by UV-microscopy and the results expressed as cells per high power field. Results and Conclusions: in these studies we provide the evidence that: 1) the animal model, in which human tissues are grafted into SCID mice, can be used to study cell migration under controlled experimental conditions (1); 2) direct intragraft injection of TNF-α increases lymphocytes migration and up-regulates the expression of human adhesion molecules (CAMs) (1) and 3) SDF-1α injected intragraft increases the migration of the pro-myelo-monocytic U937 cells to synovial transplants, even more efficiently than TNF-α, but without modifications of CAMs’ expression (2).
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