Airborne biohazards are risk factors in the development and severity of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and RA-associated lung disease, yet the mechanisms explaining this relationship remain unclear. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS, endotoxin) is a ubiquitous inflammatory agent in numerous environmental and occupational air pollutant settings recognized to induce airway inflammation. Combining repetitive LPS inhalation exposures with the collagen induced arthritis (CIA) model, DBA1/J mice were assigned to either: sham (saline injection/saline inhalation), CIA (CIA/saline), LPS (saline/LPS 100 ng inhalation), or CIA + LPS for 5 weeks. Serum anti-citrullinated (CIT) protein antibody (ACPA) and anti-malondialdehyde-acetaldehyde (MAA) antibodies were strikingly potentiated with co-exposure (CIA + LPS). CIT- and MAA-modified lung proteins were increased with co-exposure and co-localized across treatment groups. Inhaled LPS exacerbated arthritis with CIA + LPS > LPS > CIA versus sham. Periarticular bone loss was demonstrated in CIA and CIA + LPS but not in LPS alone. LPS induced airway inflammation and neutrophil infiltrates were reduced with co-exposure (CIA + LPS). Potentially signaling transition to pro-fibrotic processes, there were increased infiltrates of activated CD11c+CD11b+ macrophages and transitioning CD11c+CD11bint monocyte-macrophage populations with CIA + LPS. Moreover, several lung remodeling proteins including fibronectin and matrix metalloproteinases as well as complement C5a were potentiated with CIA + LPS compared to other treatment groups. IL-33 concentrations in lung homogenates were enhanced with CIA + LPS with IL-33 lung staining driven by LPS. IL-33 expression was also significantly increased in lung tissues from patients with RA-associated lung disease (N = 8) versus controls (N = 7). These findings suggest that patients with RA may be more susceptible to developing interstitial lung disease following airborne biohazard exposures enriched in LPS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108069
JournalInternational Immunopharmacology
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Collagen induced arthritis
  • IL-33
  • Interstitial lung disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology


Dive into the research topics of 'The impact of airborne endotoxin exposure on rheumatoid arthritis-related joint damage, autoantigen expression, autoimmunity, and lung disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this