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Abstract

Objective

Synovial inflammation, a feature of both osteoarthritis (OA) and meniscal injury, is hypothesized to be triggered in part via stimulation of Toll-like receptors (TLRs). We undertook this study to test whether a TLR-2– or TLR-4–stimulating factor in synovial fluid (SF) from patients with early knee OA with meniscal injury could lead to inflammatory activation of synoviocytes.

Methods

SF was obtained from patients with early OA cartilage damage undergoing arthroscopic meniscal procedures. SF was used to stimulate primary cultures of fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) and cell lines transfected with TLR-2 or TLR-4. SF was used either alone or in combination with a TLR-2 stimulus (palmitoyl-3-cysteine-serine-lysine-4 [Pam3CSK4]) or a TLR-4 stimulus (lipopolysaccharide [LPS]). In blocking experiments, SF was preincubated with anti-CD14 antibody.

Results

SF from these patients did not stimulate interleukin-8 (IL-8) release from TLR transfectants. Compared with SF on its own, SF (at concentrations of 0.09–25%) in combination with TLR-2 or TLR-4 ligands resulted in significant augmentation of IL-8 release from both transfectants and primary FLS. Soluble CD14 (sCD14), a coreceptor for TLRs, was measured in SF from patients with early OA at levels comparable to those in patients with advanced OA and patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Blockade with anti-CD14 antibody abolished the ability of SF to augment IL-8 production in response to LPS, and diminished Pam3CSK4 responses.

Conclusion

SF augments FLS responses to TLR-2 and TLR-4 ligands. This effect was largely due to sCD14. Our results demonstrate that sCD14 in the setting of OA and meniscal injury sensitizes FLS to respond to inflammatory stimuli such as TLR ligands.