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Central European Journal of Immunology
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vol. 43
Review paper

Antigenic and immunogenic properties of chondrocytes. Implications for chondrocyte therapeutic transplantation and pathogenesis of inflammatory and degenerative joint diseases

Anna Osiecka-Iwan, Anna Hyc, Dorota M. Radomska-Leśniewska, Adrian Rymarczyk, Piotr Skopiński

(Centr Eur Immunol 2018; 43 (1): 209-219)
Online publish date: 2018/06/30
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In physiological conditions chondrocytes are protected from contact with immunocompetent cells by the extracellular matrix, and transplanted fragments of allogeneic cartilage are not rejected. Cartilage produced by allogeneic chondrocytes, however, evokes the immune response of the recipient and is gradually destroyed. Immunisation by allogeneic chondrocytes is induced by the contact of their surface molecules with cells of the immune system. Chondrocytes constitutively express class I and, in some species, class II major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules. Expression of MHC class II molecules is induced in vitro by pro-inflammatory cytokines and in vivo in the course of the rejection of transplanted allogeneic cartilage. Low level of MHC class II molecules is found on the surface of human articular chondrocytes in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Cartilage produced by transplanted allogeneic chondrocytes is destroyed by monocytes/macrophages and cytotoxic T and natural killer (NK) cells. NK cells show spontaneous cytotoxic reactivity against isolated chondrocytes and participate in the rejection of transplanted isolated chondrocytes. Chondrocytes express molecules that can serve as potential antigens in inflammatory joint diseases. Chondrocytes express cartilage-specific membrane antigen (CH65), human cartilage glycoprotein-39 (HC gp-39), hyaluronan binding adhesion molecule CD44, thymocyte antigen-1 (Thy-1) – CD90, signal transducer – CD24, lymphocyte function-associated antigen-3 (LFA-3) – CD58, and type I transmembrane protein Tmp21. On the other hand, although chondrocytes express major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I and class II molecules, they can also exert immunosuppressive and immunomodulatory effects on immunocompetent cells. Isolated chondrocytes do not trigger an efficient allogeneic immune response in vitro and suppress, in a contact-dependent manner, proliferation of activated T cells. This suppression is associated with the expression by chondrocytes of multiple negative regulators of immune response. Chondrocytes express programmed death-ligand (PD-L), chondromodulin-I and indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), molecules that promote self-tolerance and suppress the immune system

chondrocyte antigens, chondrocyte immunogenicity, chondrocyte transplants, chon­dro­cyte antigens in joint diseases, chondrocyte-mediated immunomodulation, chondrocyte-mediated immunosuppression

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