In contrast with newly isolated cells or early primary cultures, synovial cell lines in standardised growth conditions assume a rather uniform fibroblast-like appearance. However, 2 distinct variations in the cytological pattern can be induced at this stage. The first is characterised primarily by increased numbers of small phase-dense organelles that show the distinctive fluorescence of lysosomes after supravital staining, and are interspersed with vacuoles. The associated functional changes include increased enzyme activity and decreased net synthesis of hyaluronic acid. This variation can be induced by exposure to indigestible neutral sugars, adenosine, or its 5' nucleotides. The second variation consists of a striking reorganisation of cytoplasm by condensation into dense ridges or a dendritic network of processes. It is accompanied by increased hyaluronic acid secretion and is induced by agents that enhance intracellular activity of cyclic adenosine monophosphate, such as dibutyryl cyclic adenosine monophosphate and cholera enterotoxin. It appears possible to direct differentiation in synovial cell lines to correspond at least in part with the presumed functions of the different cell types in the parent tissue. The 2 patterns may be useful markers to correlate with other aspects of synovial cell function in vitro.
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