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Volume 3 Supplement 2

21st European Workshop for Rheumatology Research

  • Meeting abstract
  • Open Access

IL-18 blockade is a potential disease-modifying therapy for rheumatoid arthritis

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Arthritis Research & Therapy20013 (Suppl 2) :P092

  • Received: 15 January 2001
  • Published:


  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Erosion Score
  • Cartilage Oligomeric Matrix Protein
  • Serum Cartilage Oligomeric Matrix Protein
  • Destructive Arthritis


Interleukin-18 (IL-18) has been demonstrated as promoting the development of a TH1 response in vivo in synergy with IL-12. Significant levels of IL-18 and IL-12 have been detected in the joints of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).


To define the therapeutic potentials of IL-18 blockade in RA by investigating the effect of neutralising endogenous IL-18 in the experimental CIA mouse model.


Two distinct IL-18 neutralising strategies, i.e., a recombinant human IL-18 binding protein (rIL-18BP) and a polyclonal anti-IL-18 IgG, were used to treat CIA mice in a therapeutic protocol (after disease onset). The effect on disease severity (visual scores) as well as parameters of cartilage and bone destruction were evaluated.


Clinical scores were significantly reduced after IL-18 blockade (rhIL-18BP 1 mg/kg, P < 0.001, n = 13; rhIL-18BP 0.25 mg/kg, P < 0.05, n = 7; anti-IL18 IgG, 2 mg, P < 0.05, n = 9, Mann Whitney test, treated versus placebo groups). Histological examination showed cartilage protection (decrease erosion scores, P < 0.05) that was accompanied by significantly reduced levels of serum cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (an indicator of cartilage turnover) and VDIPEN expression (a neoepitope present after digestion by matrix metalloproteinases). X-ray analysis of joints provided evidence of reduced bone erosion. Serum IL-6 levels were diminished in the treated animals.


These results clearly demonstrate that blocking endogenous IL-18 is therapeutically efficacious in the CIA model and support the use of IL-18 neutralisation as a novel cartilage and bone protective therapy for the treatment of destructive arthritis. Recombinant hIL-18BP could therefore represent a new disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug that warrants testing in clinical trials in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Authors’ Affiliations

Serono Pharmaceutical Research Institute, 14 chemin des Aulx, 1228 Geneva, Switzerland
Rheumatology Research Laboratory, University Medical Center St-Radboud, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
InterPharma Laboratories, Nes Ziona, Israel
Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Colorado Health Sciences, Denver, Colorado, USA


© BioMed Central Ltd 2001