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Acid-sensing ion channel 3 expressed in type B synoviocytes and chondrocytes modulates hyaluronan expression and release
  1. S J Kolker1,
  2. R Y Walder1,
  3. Y Usachev2,
  4. J Hillman3,
  5. D L Boyle3,
  6. G S Firestein3,
  7. K A Sluka1
  1. 1Graduate Program in Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, Pain Research Program, University of Iowa, Iowa, USA
  2. 2Department of Pharmacology, Pain Research Program, University of Iowa, Iowa, USA
  3. 3Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology, University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, La Jolla, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr K A Sluka, Graduate Program in Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, 1-242 MEB, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242, USA; kathleen-sluka{at}


Background Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease marked by intra-articular decreases in pH, aberrant hyaluronan regulation and destruction of bone and cartilage. Acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs) are the primary acid sensors in the nervous system, particularly in sensory neurons and are important in nociception. ASIC3 was recently discovered in synoviocytes, non-neuronal joint cells critical to the inflammatory process.

Objectives To investigate the role of ASIC3 in joint tissue, specifically the relationship between ASIC3 and hyaluronan and the response to decreased pH.

Methods Histochemical methods were used to compare morphology, hyaluronan expression and ASIC3 expression in ASIC3+/+ and ASIC3−/− mouse knee joints. Isolated fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) were used to examine hyaluronan release and intracellular calcium in response to decreases in pH.

Results In tissue sections from ASIC3+/+ mice, ASIC3 localised to articular cartilage, growth plate, meniscus and type B synoviocytes. In cultured FLS, ASIC3 mRNA and protein was also expressed. In FLS cultures, pH 5.5 increased hyaluronan release in ASIC3+/+ FLS, but not ASIC3−/− FLS. In FLS from ASIC3+/+ mice, approximately 50% of cells (25/53) increased intracellular calcium while only 24% (14/59) showed an increase in ASIC3−/− FLS. Of the cells that responded to pH 5.5, there was significantly less intracellular calcium increases in ASIC3−/− FLS compared to ASIC3+/+ FLS.

Conclusion ASIC3 may serve as a pH sensor in synoviocytes and be important for modulation of expression of hyaluronan within joint tissue.

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  • Funding This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health R01 AR053509, AR053509-S1, R01 AI067752, R01 AI070555, RO1 AR047825.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.