Emerging evidence indicates that NADPH oxidase (NOX) and its reactive oxygen species (ROS) products modulate a variety of cellular events, including proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis. In this study, we investigated the functions of NOX2 and ROS in immune modulation using NOX2 knockout (KO) mice. Interestingly, NOX2 KO mice spontaneously developed arthritis with onset at 6–7 wk of age and high incidence (60%) at 15–18 wk of age. Arthritis severity in NOX2 KO mice was proportionally increased with age and higher in females than in males. Bone destruction was confirmed by microcomputed tomography scanning and histological analyses of joints. Inflammatory factors, including TNF-α, IL-1β, and RANKL, and serum level of anti–type II collagen IgG were significantly increased in NOX2 KO mice. In addition, NOX2 deficiency perturbed the immune system upon aging. NOX2 KO mice demonstrated preferred development of CD11b+Gr-1+ myeloid cells with profound production of proinflammatory cytokines and augmented expression of IL-17 through the activation of STAT3 and RORγt in vivo. NOX2 deficiency increased differentiation of effector Th cells in vitro and decreased CD25+FoxP3+ Treg cells both in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, adoptive transfer of NOX2-deficient CD4+ T cells into RAG KO mice increased arthritic inflammation compared with WT cells. These results demonstrated that NOX2 deficiency affected the development of CD11b+ myeloid cells and Th17/Treg cells, and thus promoted inflammatory cytokine production and inflammatory arthritis development, strongly supporting a crucial role for ROS generation in the modulation of Th17/Treg cell development and its related inflammatory immune response upon aging.
Natural Sciences in General