Monocyte activation is elevated in women with knee-osteoarthritis and associated with inflammation, BMI and pain
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OBJECTIVE: Monocytes contribute to synovitis and disease pathogenesis in osteoarthritis (OA). Low-grade inflammation occurs in OA and correlates with disease severity and progression. Since monocyte development and function is altered by systemic inflammation, we analyzed monocyte numbers and function between individuals with knee OA and healthy age- and sex-matched controls. DESIGN: We analyzed markers of soluble and cellular inflammation in peripheral blood of women with knee OA and compared them to healthy age- and sex-matched controls. Soluble inflammatory mediators (TNF, IL-6, IL-10 and CRP) in the serum were measured by high-sensitivity ELISA. Leukocyte numbers, surface expression of monocyte activation markers, and monocyte production of pro-inflammatory mediators (TNF and IL-1β) following stimulation were measured by flow cytometry. RESULTS: Women with knee OA (n = 15) had elevated levels of serum c-reactive protein (CRP) and a lower proportion of circulating monocytes. Monocytes from OA participants had elevated expression of the activation markers CD16, CCR2, and HLA-DR and induced greater production of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and IL-1β compared to healthy controls. Higher serum TNF and BMI were correlated with increased monocyte expression of CCR2. Additionally monocyte CCR2 expression and serum TNF were correlated with worse pain on a validated questionnaire. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest monocytes are activated prior to their entry into the synovium. Modulating systemic inflammation and monocyte recruitment to the synovium could be of therapeutic benefit.
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