Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) induces leukocyte recruitment and activation, events central to an inflammatory response. In this study, we demonstrate that antagonism of TGF-beta with a neutralizing antibody not only blocks inflammatory cell accumulation, but also tissue pathology in an experimental model of chronic erosive polyarthritis. Intraarticular injection of monoclonal antibody 1D11.16, which inhibits both TGF-beta 1 and TGF-beta 2 bioactivity, into animals receiving an arthropathic dose of bacterial cell walls significantly inhibits arthritis. Inhibition was observed with a single injection of 50 micrograms antibody, and a 1-mg injection blocked acute inflammation > 75% compared with the contralateral joints injected with an irrelevant isotype control antibody (MOPC21) as quantitated by an articular index (AI = 0.93 +/- 0.23 for 1D11.16, and AI = 4.0 +/- 0 on day 4; p < 0.001). Moreover, suppression of the acute arthritis achieved with a single injection of antibody was sustained into the chronic, destructive phase of the disease (on day 18, AI = 0.93 +/- 0.07 vs. AI = 2.6 +/- 0.5; p < 0.01). The decreased inflammatory index associated with anti-TGF-beta treatment was consistent with histopathologic and radiologic evidence of a therapeutic response. These data implicate TGF-beta as a profound agonist not only in the early events responsible for synovial inflammation, but also in the chronicity of streptococcal cell wall fragment-induced inflammation culminating in destructive pathology. Interrupting the cycle of leukocyte recruitment and activation with TGF-beta antagonists may provide a mechanism for resolution of chronic destructive lesions.

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