Background Interleukin (IL)-1 and metalloproteinases (MMP) are thought to play a crucial role in the cartilage degradation of osteoarthritis (OA). Recently it has been proposed that CRP may be useful index of OA activity and severity.
Objectives We studied the relationships between synovial fluid (SF) IL-1b, MMP1 and MMP3, and serum levels of CRP in patients with OA of the knee (KOA) to investigate the role of CRP in KOA.
Methods In the SF from 25 patients with KOA (Altman criteria, Kellgren and Lawrence score of 2 or greater on X-ray plan films) we determined the levels of IL-1b, MMP-1 and MMP-3 (ELISA), along with WBC number. In the same patients serum concentration of CRP was analysed by ultrasensitive rate nephelometry. No patients were taking NSAIDs or other antirheumatic drugs.
Results In SF, MMP1 was correlated with MMP3 (r = 0.61, p = 0.0009), and MMP3 with IL-1b (r = 0.67, p = 0.0002). In turn, serum CRP was correlated with MMP3 (r = 0.76, p < 0.0001) and, at lower level, with MMP1 (r = 0.49, p = 0.01) and IL-1b (r = 0.49, p = 0.01).
Conclusion The correlations found between serum CRP and SF levels of substances believed to be crucial in OA cartilage degradation, such as MMPs and IL-1, confirm the role of marker of disease severity recently proposed for this acute phase protein.
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