Synovial CD4+ T-cell-derived GM-CSF supports the differentiation of an inflammatory dendritic cell population in rheumatoid arthritis.
Reynolds G., Gibbon JR., Pratt AG., Wood MJ., Coady D., Raftery G., Lorenzi AR., Gray A., Filer A., Buckley CD., Haniffa MA., Isaacs JD., Hilkens CMU.
OBJECTIVE: A population of synovial inflammatory dendritic cells (infDCs) has recently been identified in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and is thought to be monocyte-derived. Here, we investigated the role and source of granulocyte macrophage-colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) in the differentiation of synovial infDC in RA. METHODS: Production of GM-CSF by peripheral blood (PB) and synovial fluid (SF) CD4+ T cells was assessed by ELISA and flow cytometry. In vitro CD4+ T-cell polarisation experiments were performed with T-cell activating CD2/CD3/CD28-coated beads in the absence or presence of pro-Th1 or pro-Th17 cytokines. CD1c+ DC and CD16+ macrophage subsets were flow-sorted and analysed morphologically and functionally (T-cell stimulatory/polarising capacity). RESULTS: RA-SF CD4+ T cells produced abundant GM-CSF upon stimulation and significantly more than RA-SF mononuclear cells depleted of CD4+ T cells. GM-CSF-producing T cells were significantly increased in RA-SF compared with non-RA inflammatory arthritis SF, active RA PB and healthy donor PB. GM-CSF-producing CD4+ T cells were expanded by Th1-promoting but not Th17-promoting conditions. Following coculture with RA-SF CD4+ T cells, but not healthy donor PB CD4+ T cells, a subpopulation of monocytes differentiated into CD1c+ infDC; a process dependent on GM-CSF. These infDC displayed potent alloproliferative capacity and enhanced GM-CSF, interleukin-17 and interferon-γ production by CD4+ T cells. InfDC with an identical phenotype to in vitro generated cells were significantly enriched in RA-SF compared with non-RA-SF/tissue/PB. CONCLUSIONS: We demonstrate a therapeutically tractable feedback loop of GM-CSF secreted by RA synovial CD4+ T cells promoting the differentiation of infDC with potent capacity to induce GM-CSF-producing CD4+ T cells.