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Logo of annrheumdAnnals of the Rheumatic DiseasesCurrent TOCInstructions for authors
Ann Rheum Dis. Sep 1997; 56(9): 550–557.
PMCID: PMC1752434

Plasminogen activation in synovial tissues: differences between normal, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis joints


OBJECTIVE—To analyse the functional activity of the plasminogen activators urokinase (uPA) and tissue type plasminogen activator (tPA) in human synovial membrane, and to compare the pattern of expression between normal, osteoarthritic, and rheumatoid synovium. The molecular mechanisms underlying differences in PA activities between normal and pathological synovial tissues have been further examined.
METHODS—Synovial membranes from seven normal (N) subjects, 14 osteoarthritis (OA), and 10 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients were analysed for plasminogen activator activity by conventional zymography and in situ zymography on tissue sections. The tissue distribution of uPA, tPA, uPA receptor (uPAR), and plasminogen activator inhibitor type-1 (PAI-1) was studied by immunohistochemistry. uPA, tPA, uPAR, and PAI-1 mRNA values and mRNA distribution were assessed by northern blot and in situ hybridisations respectively.
RESULTS—All normal and most OA synovial tissues expressed predominantly tPA catalysed proteolytic activity mainly associated to the synovial vasculature. In some OA, tPA activity was expressed together with variable amounts of uPA mediated activity. By contrast, most RA synovial tissues exhibited considerably increased uPA activity over the proliferative lining areas, while tPA activity was reduced when compared with N and OA synovial tissues. This increase in uPA activity was associated with increased levels of uPA antigen and its corresponding mRNA, which were localised over the synovial proliferative lining areas. In addition, in RA tissues, expression of the specific uPA receptor (uPAR) and of the plasminogen activator inhibitor-type 1 (PAI-1) were also increased.
CONCLUSION—Taken together, these results show an alteration of the PA/plasmin system in RA synovial tissues, resulting in increased uPA catalytic activity that may play a part in tissue destruction in RA.

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Selected References

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Figures and Tables

Figure 1
PA activities expressed by N, OA, and RA synovial tissues. (A) Zymographic analysis. Equal amounts of proteins (5 µg), from N synovial tissue extracts or from synovial tissue extracts of OA and RA patients were analysed by SDS-PAGE zymographies ...
Figure 2
Immunohistochemical localisation of uPA and uPAR antigens in N, OA, and RA synovial tissues. Cryostat sections of N (A, B), OA (C, D), and RA (E, F) synovial tissues were incubated with monoclonal antibodies against uPA (left panels, A, C, E) or uPAR ...
Figure 3
Comparison of uPA, uPAR, tPA, and PAI-1 mRNA concentrations in N and pathological synovial tissues. (A) Northern blot analysis. Total RNA (12 µg/lane) extracted from normal synovial tissue or from synovial tissue of OA and RA patients ...
Figure 4
Visualisation of PA activities and mRNAs on tissue sections of synovial membranes from OA and RA patients. (A) OA synovial tissue. Top row: in situ zymographies. OA histological zymograms show amiloride resistant PA enzymatic activity corresponding to ...

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