Type II collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) is an animal model of rheumatoid arthritis that has been used extensively to address questions of disease pathogenesis and to validate novel therapeutic targets. Susceptibility to CIA is strongly associated with major histocompatibility complex class II genes, and the development of arthritis is accompanied by a robust T- and B-cell response to type II collagen. The main pathological features of CIA include proliferative synovitis with infiltration of inflammatory cells, pannus formation, cartilage degradation, erosion of bone and fibrosis. Pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as tumour necrosis factor α and interleukin-1β, are expressed in the arthritic joints in both murine CIA and human rheumatoid arthritis, and blockade of these molecules results in amelioration of disease. Hence, there is a great deal of interest in the development of small-molecular-weight inhibitors of pro-inflammatory cytokines. There is also interest in the development and testing of drugs with the capacity to modulate the immune pathways involved in driving the inflammatory response in arthritis. For these reasons, there is a need to monitor the effect of novel treatments on cytokine expression in vivo. In this review, we outline the various techniques used to detect cytokines in experimental arthritis and describe how these techniques have been used to quantify changes in cytokine expression following therapeutic intervention.
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