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Peri-articular bone resorption is a feature of arthritis due to crystal deposition and rheumatoid disease. Under these conditions, the synovial fluid contains numerous inflammatory cells that produce cytokines and growth factors which promote osteoclast formation. The aim of this study was to determine whether inflammatory synovial fluid stimulates the formation of osteoclasts. Synovial fluid from rheumatoid arthritis (RA), pyrophosphate arthropathy (PPA) and osteoarthritis (OA) patients was added to cultures (n=8) of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in the presence and absence of macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF) and the receptor activator of NF-kappaB ligand (RANKL). Osteoclast formation was assessed by the formation of cells positive for tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) and vitronectin receptor (VNR) and the extent of lacunar resorption. The addition of 10% OA, RA and PPA synovial fluid to PBMC cultures resulted in the formation of numerous multinucleated or mononuclear TRAP(+) and VNR(+) cells which were capable of lacunar resorption. In contrast to PBMC cultures incubated with OA synovial fluid, there was marked stimulation of osteoclast formation and resorption in cultures containing inflammatory RA and PPA synovial fluid which contained high levels of tumour necrosis factor alpha, a factor which is known to stimulate RANKL-induced osteoclast formation.

Original publication




Journal article


Virchows arch

Publication Date





69 - 77


Acid Phosphatase, Aged, Arthritis, Bone Resorption, Cell Differentiation, Cells, Cultured, Female, Humans, Integrin alphaVbeta3, Isoenzymes, Leukocytes, Mononuclear, Male, Middle Aged, Osteoclasts, Synovial Fluid, Tartrate-Resistant Acid Phosphatase