Fibroblast-like synovial cell production of extra domain A fibronectin associates with inflammation in osteoarthritis

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Background: The pathophysiology of osteoarthritis (OA) involves wear and tear, and a state of low-grade inflammation. Tissue repair responses include transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ)-induced myofibroblast production of extracellular matrix. Fibronectins are an essential part of the extracellular matrix, and injection of fibronectin fragments into rabbit joints is a previously established animal model of OA. Fibronectin containing the ED-A domain is currently being used as drug delivery target in the development of anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. Dekavil). Methods: In this study, samples of synovial membrane were obtained from patients with knee OA undergoing joint replacement surgery. Immunostaining for ED-A fibronectin and the myofibroblast marker alpha smooth muscle actin (αSMA) was performed on fibroblast-like synovial cells (FLS) and synovial membranes. RAW 264.7 macrophages were incubated with recombinant ED-A fibronectin. Results: The staining of ED-A fibronectin in OA FLS was increased by TGFβ but not by TNFα, lipopolysaccharide, or IL-6 (n = 3). ED-A fibronectin co-stained with the myofibroblast marker αSMA in both the OA FLS (n = 3) and in the OA synovial membranes (n = 8). ED-A fibronectin staining was associated with both number of lining layer cells (rho = 0.85 and p = 0.011) and sublining cells (rho = 0.88 and p = 0.007) in the OA synovium (n = 8), and co-distributed with TNFα (n = 5). Recombinant ED-A fibronectin increased the production of TNFα by RAW 264.7 macrophages (n = 3). Conclusions: The disease process in OA shares features with the chronic wound healing response. Our findings support utilizing ED-A fibronectin for drug delivery or therapeutic targeting to reduce pro-inflammatory responses in OA.




Kragstrup, T. W., Sohn, D. H., Lepus, C. M., Onuma, K., Wang, Q., Robinson, W. H., & Sokolove, J. (2019). Fibroblast-like synovial cell production of extra domain A fibronectin associates with inflammation in osteoarthritis. BMC Rheumatology, 3(1).

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