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Metabolomic studies of body fluids show that immune-mediated inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are associated with metabolic disruption. This is likely to reflect the increased bioenergetic and biosynthetic demands of sustained inflammation and changes to nutrient and oxygen availability in damaged tissue. The synovial membrane lining layer is the principle site of inflammation in RA. Here the resident cells are the fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) and the synovial tissue macrophages (STM), which are transformed toward overproduction of enzymes which degrade cartilage and bone, and cytokines which promote immune cell infiltration. Recent studies have shown metabolic changes in both FLS and macrophages from RA patients and these may be therapeutically targetable. However, as the origins and subset specific functions of synoviocytes are poorly understood and the signaling modules which control metabolic deviation in RA synovial cells are yet to be explored, significant additional research is needed to translate these findings toward clinical application. Furthermore, in many inflamed tissues, different cell types can forge metabolic collaborations through solute carriers (SLC) in their membranes, to meet a high demand for energy or biomolecules. Such relationships are likely to exist in the synovium and are yet to be explored. Finally, it is not yet known whether metabolic change is a consequence of disease or if primary changes to cellular metabolism might underlie or contribute to early stage disease pathogenesis. This article collates what is known about metabolism in synovial tissue cells and highlights future research directions in this area. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Original publication




Journal article


Arthritis & rheumatology (Hoboken, N.J.)

Publication Date



Rheumatology Research Group, Institute of inflammation and Ageing, College of Medical and dental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, UK.