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OBJECTIVE: To identify differentially expressed genes in synovial fibroblasts and examine the effect on gene expression of exposure to TNF-alpha and IL-1beta. METHODS: Restriction fragment differential display was used to isolate genes using degenerate primers complementary to the lysophosphatidic acid acyl transferase gene family. Differential gene expression was confirmed by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemistry using a variety of synovial fibroblasts, including cells from patients with osteoarthritis and self-limiting parvovirus arthritis. RESULTS: Irrespective of disease process, synovial fibroblasts constitutively produced higher levels of IL-6 and monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1) (CCL2) than skin fibroblasts. Seven genes were differentially expressed in synovial fibroblasts compared with skin fibroblasts. Of these genes, four [tissue factor pathway inhibitor 2 (TFPI2), growth regulatory oncogene beta (GRObeta), manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD) and granulocyte chemotactic protein 2 (GCP-2)] were all found to be constitutively overexpressed in synoviocytes derived from patients with osteoarthritis. These four genes were only weakly expressed in other synovial fibroblasts (rheumatoid and self-limiting parvovirus infection). However, expression in all types of fibroblasts was increased after stimulation with TNF-alpha and IL-1beta. Three other genes (aggrecan, biglycan and caldesmon) were expressed at higher levels in all types of synovial fibroblasts compared with skin fibroblasts even after stimulation with TNF-alpha and IL-1. CONCLUSIONS: Seven genes have been identified with differential expression patterns in terms of disease process (osteoarthritis vs rheumatoid arthritis), state of activation (resting vs cytokine activation) and anatomical location (synovium vs skin). Four of these genes, TFPI2, GRObeta (CXCL2), MnSOD and GCP-2 (CXCL6), were selectively overexpressed in osteoarthritis fibroblasts rather than rheumatoid fibroblasts. While these differences may represent differential behaviour of synovial fibroblasts in in vitro culture, these observations suggest that TFPI2, GRObeta (CXCL2), MnSOD and GCP-2 (CXCL6) may represent new targets for treatments specifically tailored to osteoarthritis.

Original publication




Journal article


Rheumatology (oxford)

Publication Date





1346 - 1352


Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Arthritis, Arthritis, Rheumatoid, Cells, Cultured, Female, Fibroblasts, Gene Expression Regulation, Humans, Interleukin-6, Male, Middle Aged, Osteoarthritis, Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction, Skin, Synovial Membrane