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FRI0012 Role of volatile compounds released by synovial fluid in the diagnosis of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis of the knee joint
  1. R Capuano1,
  2. MS Chimenti2,
  3. F Dini1,
  4. AC Domakoski3,
  5. E Martinelli1,
  6. P Conigliaro2,
  7. R Paolesse3,
  8. C Di Natale1,
  9. R Perricone2,
  10. A Bergamini2
  1. 1Department of Electronic Engineering
  2. 2Department of system medicine, Rheumatology, Allergology and Clinical Immunology
  3. 3Department of Chemical Science and Technology, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy


Background Synovial fluid (SF) receives protein contribution from the tissue around: cartilages, synovial membranes and bones. The presence of inflammation and oxidative stress alters the its chemical composition. In particular, inflammation modulates the release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are the product of reactive oxygen species and free radicals excreted by mithocondria during oxydative stress (1). Articular inflammation plays a major role both in Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), thus, the identification of specifics VOCs associated with inflammation in the SF may represent a suitable procedure to facilitate a diagnosis and a better characterization of these diseases. E-noses are versatile instruments based on arrays of partially selective gas sensors system that do not provide specific information about the individual molecules but can detect a large spectrum of VOCs to provide a discrimination among samples classified according to their chemical composition (VOC pattern) (2).

Objectives Aim of this study was to prospectively investigate whether analysis of volatile compounds (VOCs) emitted from knee synovial fluid can identify differences between osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Methods VOCs Profile emitted by knee synovial fluid of 10 OA patients was compared with that of 25 RA patients using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and a gas sensor array (electronic nose) made by an ensemble of metalloporphyrins coated quartz microbalances. Patients' data are summarized in Table 1. Data were analyzed by principal component analysis (PCA), partial least squares discriminant analysis (PLSDA). Permutation analysis and area under curve (AUROC) of receiver operating characteristics (ROC) curves were used to characterize the classifier performance.

Results GC-MS analysis identified 55 VOCs in the headspace of synovial fluids. The ANOVA analysis of the relative abundance indicated five VOCs significantly different between OA and RA. The abundance of five compounds allowed to identify OA with respect to RA with an accuracy of 82% (sensitivity: 0.90, specificity: 0.80, AUROC=0.92, 99.7% CI). The signals of the electronic nose sensors allowed to classify the studied subjects in OA or RA. In particular, OA patients could be distinguished from that of RA patients with an accuracy of 100% (sensitivity: 1, specificity: 1, AUROC=1, 99.9% CI).) (Figure 1). However, no single VOC was specific for OA or RA.

Conclusions This study shows that OA and RA patients exhibit qualitative and quantitative differences in the chemical compositions of knee synovial fluid. These differences may be attributed to five volatile compounds and can be detected by an electronic nose which may represent a suitable diagnostic tool for diagnosis and characterization of OA vs. RA.


  1. Hakim M, Broza YY, Barash O, Peled N, Phillips M, Amann A, et al. Volatile organic compounds of lung cancer and possible biochemical pathways. Chem Rev. 2012;112:5949–66.

  2. Stitzel S, Arnecke M, Walt D. Artificial noses. Ann Rev Biomed Eng. 2011;13:1–25.


Disclosure of Interest None declared

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