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Microfibrillar elements in the synovial joint: presence of type VI collagen and fibrillin-containing microfibrils.
  1. A D Waggett,
  2. C M Kielty,
  3. C A Shuttleworth
  1. Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Manchester, United Kingdom.

    Abstract

    OBJECTIVES--The aims were to isolate and positively identify the microfibrillar elements which have been observed in the synovial lining. In addition, synovial fluid was examined for these elements to improve the understanding of the role of these structures in health and disease. METHODS--Bacterial collagenase digestion of bovine synovial linings and human and bovine synovial fluids was used to release intact, non-denatured microfibrillar elements. The microfibrils were isolated by Sepharose CL-2B chromatography and viewed by rotary shadowing. They were characterised by immunogold labelling with specific antibodies. RESULTS--Intact type VI collagen microfibrils and fibrillin-containing microfibrils were isolated and positively identified in the synovial lining from bovine ankle joints by immunogold labelling. Type VI collagen microfibrils were also present in the synovial fluid. CONCLUSIONS--The role of the microfibrillar elements in vivo is not fully understood, but their distribution in the synovial lining suggests they have an important role in the mechanical and physical properties of this tissue. The presence of type VI collagen microfibrils in synovial fluid poses the intriguing possibility that it may represent a product of microfibril turnover and a potential early marker for rheumatoid arthritis. Alternatively, type VI collagen may be specifically secreted into the synovial fluid to interact with hyaluronan and form part of the structure of synovial fluid.

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