IGF and IGF-binding protein system in the synovial fluid of osteoarthritic and rheumatoid arthritic patients

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Various arthritic disorders result from a disruption of the equilibrium between the synthesis and degradation of tissue matrix macromolecules. Growth factors, particularly insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), are believed to play an important role in maintaining this equilibrium. In this study, we determined the levels of IGF-I, IGF-II, and characterized and measured the amount of IGF-binding proteins (IGFBPs) in the synovial fluid (SF) of osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients and normal individuals. Furthermore, we characterized the IGFBP found in these SFs. The levels of IGF-I, IGF-II and IGFBP-3 were determined by specific radioimmunoassays (RIAs). IGFBP identification and measurement were carried out using the Western ligand blot (WLB) technique, and characterization performed by Western immunoblot. IGFBP-3 proteolysis was analyzed by autoradiography after incubation of SF with radiolabeled IGFBP-3. Results showed a statistically significant increase (P < 0.001) in the IGF-I level in arthritic SF vs normal controls; 75 ± 11 ng/ml and 82 ± 11 ng/ml were recorded for RA (N = 8) and OA (N = 10), respectively, whilst normal controls (N = 9) were at 19 ± 7 ng/ml. No difference in the level of IGF-II was recorded between the three groups studied. Human SF demonstrated the presence of IGFBP-1, -2, -3 and -4, but not that of IGFBP-5 and -6. The level of IGFBP-3 tested either by WLB or RIA was significantly higher (P < 0.001) in RA and OA patients. Moreover, a statistical and positive correlation between the levels of IGF-I and IGFBP-3 was noted. WLB analysis indicated that the amount of IGFBP-1 did not vary among the groups. The levels of IGFBP-2 and -4 were significantly increased (P < 0.02) solely in the RA SF. Further experiments demonstrated that a limited IGFBP-3 proteolysis occurred in human SF. Moreover, the ratio of total IGF over total bioactive IGFBPs was lower in RA (P < 0.05), and to a lesser extent in OA than normal specimens. This study showed the presence of four IGFBPs (1-4) in human SF for which the IGFBP-2, -3 and -4 were enhanced in arthritic fluid. Importantly, although proteolysis occurred in the SF, an increased amount of bioactive IGFBPs were present in arthritic SF, which may affect the bioavailability of IGF-I within the articular tissues.




Tavera, C., Abribat, T., Reboul, P., Dore, S., Brazeau, P., Pelletier, J. P., & Martel-Pelletier, J. (1996). IGF and IGF-binding protein system in the synovial fluid of osteoarthritic and rheumatoid arthritic patients. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 4(4), 263–274. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1063-4584(05)80104-9

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