Objective: To investigate the presence of mast cells in the osteoarthritic (OA) synovium and their association with clinical parameters in comparison with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) samples. Method: Synovial tissues of 56 symptomatic OA and 49 RA patients were obtained. Two to three paraffin slides were used to quantify inflammation using haematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining (synovitis score 0-9), and numbers of mast cells (per 10 high-power fields) using double immunofluorescence for CD117 and tryptase. Average scores per patient were used for analysis. Knee radiographs of OA patients were scored according to the Kellgren and Lawrence (KL) system and pain was determined in OA patients at baseline by visual analogue scale (VAS). Results: Median (range) of mast cells was significantly higher in OA samples 45 (1-168) compared to RA samples 4 (1-47) (P-value < 0.001), despite a lower median (range) synovitis score in OA (2.5 (0-6.0)) compared to 4.6 (0-8.0) in RA samples. The synovitis score was significantly correlated with the number of mast cells (in OA Spearman's rho (P-value) 0.3 (0.023) and RA 0.5 (P-value < 0.001)). Interestingly, we observed a trend towards an association between the number of mast cells and an increased KL-grade (P-value 0.05) in OA patients, independently of synovitis. No associations were found with self-reported pain. Conclusion: Prevalence of mast cells in OA synovial tissue is relatively high and associates with structural damage in OA patients, suggesting a role of mast cells in this disease.
de Lange-Brokaar, B. J. E., Kloppenburg, M., Andersen, S. N., Dorjée, A. L., Yusuf, E., Herb-van Toorn, L., … Ioan-Facsinay, A. (2016). Characterization of synovial mast cells in knee osteoarthritis: Association with clinical parameters. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 24(4), 664–671. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joca.2015.11.011