To investigate the expression of extracellular matrix metalloproteinase inducer (EMMPRIN) at sites of joint destruction in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and to correlate it with the production of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs).


Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction was performed to study the existence of EMMPRIN in synovial tissue derived from RA and osteoarthritis (OA) patients. In situ hybridization with a human complementary DNA specific for EMMPRIN and immunohistochemistry were performed to characterize the EMMPRIN-expressing cells at sites of joint destruction, including bone. Northern blot analysis was performed to detect the level of expression of EMMPRIN messenger RNA (mRNA) in synovial tissue. The production of MMP-1 and MMP-3 by synovial tissue from RA patients was examined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.


Expression of EMMPRIN mRNA was detected in synovium from 9 of 11 patients with RA and 1 of 5 patients with OA. The presence of mRNA encoding EMMPRIN was recognized in the invasive synovium at sites of joint destruction in RA but not OA. Fibroblast-like synovial cells and granulocytes were demonstrated to express EMMPRIN mRNA. MMP-1 and MMP-3 production by synovial tissue was correlated with levels of expression of EMMPRIN mRNA, as detected by Northern blotting.


The expression of EMMPRIN stimulates the production of MMP-1 and MMP-3 in the synovial tissue of affected joints in RA. The results of this study suggest that EMMPRIN may be one of the important factors in progressive joint destruction in RA.