Destructive osteoarthritis is characterised by rapidly progressive joint destruction associated with intra-articular deposition of hydroxyapatite crystals. The possible role of such crystals in the pathogenesis of this condition was investigated by testing the ability of hydroxyapatite crystals to stimulate the production of bone resorbing activity from mouse peritoneal macrophages. Urate crystals were used for comparison. Culture supernatants were tested for bone resorbing activity using the mouse calvarial bone resorption assay, for interleukin 1 using a standard lymphocyte activation assay, and for prostaglandin E2 by radioimmunoassay. Culture supernatants from macrophages incubated with hydroxyapatite crystals contained dialysable bone resorbing activity, high concentrations of prostaglandin E2, but no interleukin 1 like activity. The production of the bone resorbing agent was prevented by culturing macrophages with hydroxyapatite crystals in the presence of indomethacin. By contrast, culture supernatants from macrophages incubated with urate crystals contained bone resorbing activity, which was only partly removed by dialysis, and interleukin 1 like activity. The latter was shown to be increased in culture supernatants from macrophages incubated with urate crystals in the presence of indomethacin, while production of bone resorbing activity was partially inhibited. It is considered that the bone resorbing activity liberated from macrophages stimulated by hydroxyapatite crystals can be explained by the presence of prostaglandin E2 alone, whereas the activity liberated by urate crystals is due to both prostaglandin E2 and interleukin 1.
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