Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory synovial disease thought to involve T cells reacting to an antigen within the joint. Type II collagen is the major protein in articular cartilage and is a potential autoantigen in this disease. Oral tolerization to autoantigens suppresses animal models of T cell-mediated autoimmune disease, including two models of rheumatoid arthritis. In this randomized, double-blind trial involving 60 patients with severe, active rheumatoid arthritis, a decrease in the number of swollen joints and tender joints occurred in subjects fed chicken type II collagen for 3 months but not in those that received a placebo. Four patients in the collagen group had complete remission of the disease. No side effects were evident. These data demonstrate clinical efficacy of an oral tolerization approach for rheumatoid arthritis.
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