Scientific Literature

Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) Bioactivity at the Site of an Acute Cell-Mediated Immune Response Is Preserved in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients Responding to Anti-TNF Therapy

R. Byng-Maddick, C. T. Turner, G. Pollara, M. Ellis, N. J. Guppy, L. C. K. Bell, M. R. Ehrenstein, M. Noursadeghi , frontiers in Immunology , DOI: 10.3389/fimmu.2017.00932

The impact of anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) therapies on inducible TNF-dependent activity in humans has never been evaluated in vivo. We aimed to test the hypothesis that patients responding to anti-TNF treatments exhibit attenuated TNF-dependent immune responses at the site of an immune challenge. We developed and validated four context-specific TNF-inducible transcriptional signatures to quantify TNF bioactivity in transcriptomic data. In anti-TNF treated rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients, we measured the expression of these biosignatures in blood, and in skin biopsies from the site of tuberculin skin tests (TSTs) as a human experimental model of multivariate cell-mediated immune responses. In blood, anti-TNF therapies attenuated TNF bioactivity following ex vivo stimulation. However, at the site of the TST, TNF-inducible gene expression and genome-wide transcriptional changes associated with cell-mediated immune responses were comparable to that of RA patients receiving methotrexate only. These data demonstrate that anti-TNF agents in RA patients do not inhibit inducible TNF activity at the site of an acute inflammatory challenge in vivo, as modeled by the TST. We hypothesize instead that their therapeutic effects are limited to regulating TNF activity in chronic inflammation or by alternative non-canonical pathways.