The effect of in vivo administration of monoclonal anti-L3T4 antibody on the development of murine collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) was assessed. Treatment with anti-L3T4 resulted in a greater than 90% depletion of L3T4+ T cells in lymph nodes and spleen, an effect that appears entirely reversed 30 d after treatment. Administration of anti-L3T4 before immunization with type II collagen resulted in a significant decrease in arthritis incidence and delayed onset of the disease while treatment begun after a strong anticollagen IgG humoral response was underway was not effective in altering disease expression. These results suggest a prominent role for L3T4+ T cells in the pathogenesis of CIA.

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