The dimethylmethylene blue assay showed higher concentrations of glycosaminoglycans in many synovial fluids from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) than in autologous sera or sera or synovial fluids from normal subjects. These results were taken to suggest that the glycosaminoglycans in RA synovial fluid were abnormally raised and derived from cartilage. To discover what stimulated such glycosaminoglycan release in RA joints relations were sought between synovial fluid concentrations of glycosaminoglycans and immunological and inflammatory mediators. It was shown that RA synovial fluid glycosaminoglycan concentrations correlated with synovial fluid C3d concentrations but not with synovial fluid rheumatoid factor concentrations, polymorphonuclear leucocyte numbers, myeloperoxidase concentrations, or the ability of the synovial fluids to release free radicals from normal polymorphonuclear leucocytes. A correlation was found between synovial fluid C3d and interleukin 1 concentrations as judged by both lymphocyte activating factor activity and immunoassay, but no significant correlation was detected between interleukin 1 and glycosaminoglycan concentrations. It is suggested that in the rheumatoid joint locally produced cytokines, in addition to interleukin 1, together stimulate glycosaminoglycan release from cartilage and render it vulnerable to attack by other processes.
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