Sixty healthy male Wistar rats weighing 150 g to 200 g were procured from the Hubei Provincial Laboratory Animal Center. The study was approved by the Ethical Committee of Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology (TJ-A20170504). The rats were maintained in the Central Animal House of Tongji Hospital (Animal Certificate of Conformity: SCXK (Hubei) 2015-0018) under controlled temperature (22 ± 4°C). The rats had easy access to standard food and water. All procedures were conducted in accordance with the Ethical Committee of Tongji Hospital. Before the experiment, the rats were adaptively fed for 7 days. A model of CIA was designed as described previously [13]. Bovine type II collagen (CII) (Chondrex, USA, 2 mg/mL) was dissolved in equal volumes of complete Freund's adjuvant (Sigma, USA) containing inactivated Mycobacterium tuberculosis. On day 0, 50 rats were intradermally injected at the base of the tail and back with 300 μL of a CII emulsion. On day 7, the rats were given a fortified immunization with 300 μL of CII dissolved in equal volumes of Freund's incomplete adjuvant. Rats intradermally injected with an equal volume of saline were used as normal controls.

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