Despite increasing recognition of the importance of GM-CSF in autoimmune disease, it remains unclear how GM-CSF is regulated at sites of tissue inflammation. Using GM-CSF fate reporter mice, we show that synovial NK cells produce GM-CSF in autoantibody-mediated inflammatory arthritis. Synovial NK cells promote a neutrophilic inflammatory cell infiltrate, and persistent arthritis, via GM-CSF production, as deletion of NK cells, or specific ablation of GM-CSF production in NK cells, abrogated disease. Synovial NK cell production of GM-CSF is IL-18–dependent. Furthermore, we show that cytokine-inducible SH2-containing protein (CIS) is crucial in limiting GM-CSF signaling not only during inflammatory arthritis but also in experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE), a murine model of multiple sclerosis. Thus, a cellular cascade of synovial macrophages, NK cells, and neutrophils mediates persistent joint inflammation via production of IL-18 and GM-CSF. Endogenous CIS provides a key brake on signaling through the GM-CSF receptor. These findings shed new light on GM-CSF biology in sterile tissue inflammation and identify several potential therapeutic targets.

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