We have found that serum from rats with type II collagen-induced arthritis, when fractionated with 50% ammonium sulfate and concentrated, would transfer arthritis to nonimmunized recipients. The arthritis in recipients developed within 18-72 h and displayed all of the major histopathologic characteristics of the early lesion in immunized animals but was transient and less severe. Although consideration was given to the possibility that a circulating immune complex was involved, no evidence of such a complex was detected. Further fractionation of the serum yielded an IgG anticollagen antibody that was fully active in transferring disease. The antibody's reaction was inhibited by the native bovine type II collagen used for immunization of donors and the antibody strongly cross-reacted with homologous type II collage but not with denatured collagen. These studies demonstrate that arthritis in rats can be induced with anti-type II collagen antibodies and suggest that an autoimmune process is involved. Because antibodies to collagen have also been detected in human rheumatic diseases, further investigation of the characteristics of collagen antibodies capable of inducing arthritis seems warranted.

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