Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a T lymphocyte-mediated autoimmune disease, although its immune mechanism has not been fully studied. In this study, healthy controls (HC), osteoarthritis patients (OA), and RA patients were enrolled, and mice were evenly divided into control, collagen-induced arthritis (CIA), PD-1 Fc/CIA (PD-1 Fc membrane fusion protein administered to CIA mice), OX40 Fc/CIA (OX40 Fc membrane fusion protein administered to CIA mice), and PD-1 Fc + OX40 Fc/CIA groups. The expressions of programmed death-1 (PD-1) and OX40 in CD4 T lymphocytes and the levels of sPD-1, immunoglobulin, and proinflammatory factors in patients and mice were measured. The results showed that the expression levels of PD-1 and OX40 in CD4 T lymphocytes separated from the peripheral blood and synovial fluid of RA patients and the spleen of CIA mice were observably elevated. The levels of soluble PD-1, interleukin (IL)-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-17, and interferon-γ (IFN-γ) in RA patients obviously increased. In animal experiments, PD-1 Fc not only increased the serum levels of immunoglobulin G (IgG), IgG1, and IgG2a in CIA mice, but also increased the levels of IL-4, IL-2, IL-5, IL-17, and IFN-γ in mouse spleen cells and joint tissues, which, however, were reversed by OX40 Fc. In conclusion, OX40 inhibition could reverse the progression of RA caused by PD-1 blocking, and PD-1 might be a potential target for RA. Clinical Trials.gov ID: HGH2018012203.

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