The early changes (five weeks) in the structure of newly synthesised and endogenous articular cartilage sulphated proteoglycans were studied in lapine IgG induced experimental immune synovitis. Rabbits with immune synovitis (IS-IgG) were compared with animals with a developed hypersensitivity to IgG (I-IgG) and with non-treated normal weight matched controls. Medial and lateral femoral condyle and tibial plateau cartilage was pooled and radiolabelled for 24 h in vitro with 35SO4. The samples constituted tissue from regions underlying pannus and from pannus free sites. Cartilage from animals with IS-IgG showed a significantly diminished amount of newly synthesised and endogenous proteoglycan aggregate and an increased amount of hydrodynamically small proteoglycans. Newly synthesised (obtained by in vivo radiosulphate labelling) and endogenous proteoglycans showed a similar profile. The proteoglycan monomer fraction from animals with IS-IgG failed to form proteoglycan aggregates in the presence of excess hyaluronic acid. In the group with IS-IgG linear regression analysis showed a statistically significant relationship between the synovial pathology scores (but not cartilage pathology score) and diminished newly synthesised and endogenous proteoglycan aggregate.
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