What determines arthritogenicity of bacterial cell wall? A study on Eubacterium cell wall-induced arthritis

X. Zhang, M. Rimpiläinen, E. Šimelyte, P. Toivanen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Objective. To study what determines the arthritogenicity of the bacterial cell wall (CW) using Eubacterium CW-induced arthritis in the rat. Methods. Eubacterium aerofaciens, previously reported as arthritogenic, and E. limosum and E. alactolyticum, known as non-arthritogenic, were used. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) was applied to analyse the chemical composition of the bacterial cell wall. Cellular immune response was measured by concanavalin A (Con A) stimulation and FACScan analysis. Also, serum antibodies against the injected cell wall were determined. Results. Unexpectedly, from the two strains of E. aerofaciens used only one proved to be arthritogenic (with a CW inducing chronic arthritis after a single intraperitoneal injection), even though these two strains were 100% identical by 16S rDNA analysis. CW of the other E. aerofaciens strain induced only transient acute arthritis; CW of E. limosum and E. alactolyticum induced weak signs of acute arthritis. Based on the GC-MS analysis and on the results published previously, putative structures of peptidoglycan (PG) in the four CW preparations are presented. It is apparent that the presence of lysine in position 3 of the PG stem peptide contributes to arthritogenicity but is alone not decisive. Both strains of E. aerofaciens were immunosuppressive, when tested by Con A response at 2 weeks after CW injection. Such an immunosuppression was not observed after injection of CW from E. limosum or E. alactolyticum. FACScan analysis for six T cell markers and studies on serum antibody responses did not reveal any differences in the effect of the four bacterial strains used. Conclusions. The results obtained suggest that the chemical structure of PG present in the bacterial CW is decisive in determining arthritogenicity/non-arthritogenicity. Therefore, from two bacterial strains belonging to normal human intestinal flora and 100% identical by 16S rDNA analysis, one proved to be arthritogenic and the other non-arthritogenic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)274-282
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Gas chromatography
  • Intestinal flora
  • Lysine
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Peptidoglycan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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