Metatarsophalangeal and metacarpophalangeal joints from 3 patients with rheumatoid arthritis were investigated electron microscopically with regard to the occurrence of polymorphonuclear granulocytes (PMNs) at the pannus-cartilage junction. In all 3 cases PMNs could be detected at the junction and within the cartilaginous matrix. PMN cytoplasmic processes surrounded collagenous islands in the cartilage. From the morphological findings it is deduced that PMNs are cells capable of destroying cartilage in inflammatory joint diseases, in particular in rheumatoid arthritis.
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