OBJECTIVE: To investigate the possibility that synovial cells might respond to thrombin in the inflamed human joint, using immunohistochemical detection of thrombin receptors. METHODS: Frozen sections of synovial membrane from 20 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, 16 with osteoarthritis, and four normal controls were stained using a monoclonal antibody to the human thrombin receptor. Sections were also double stained for both receptors and non-specific esterase. RESULTS: Receptor positive cells were present in rheumatoid synovia, with some cells also staining positively for non-specific esterase. In contrast, both osteoarthritic and normal synovia contained very few cells expressing receptors. CONCLUSIONS: Thrombin may mediate important pathological changes during chronic inflammatory joint disease.
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