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Ann Rheum Dis. May 2004; 63(5): 483–488.
PMCID: PMC1755001

T cells, fibroblast-like synoviocytes, and granzyme B+ cytotoxic cells are associated with joint damage in patients with recent onset rheumatoid arthritis

Abstract

Objective: To determine immunohistological markers in synovial tissue of patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA) which are associated with unfavourable disease outcome.

Methods: Synovial tissue was obtained from 36 patients with RA within 1 year after the initial symptoms and before starting disease modifying antirheumatic drug treatment. Clinical, laboratory, and radiological assessments (Larsen score) were performed at the time of the biopsy and at the end of follow up (mean 58 months, range 38–72). Immunohistological analysis was performed to detect T cells, B cells, plasma cells, fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS), macrophages, and granzyme B+ cytotoxic cells. The sections were evaluated by digital image analysis.

Results: Patients were divided into two groups based upon the radiological progression per year of follow up: group I with mild progression (n = 20; Larsen <2 points/year); group II with more severe progression (n = 16; Larsen [gt-or-equal, slanted]2 points/year). Regression analysis with a univariate model showed that the numbers of granzyme B+ cytotoxic cells (relative risk (RR) = 12, p = 0.003), T cells (RR = 11, p = 0.013), and FLS (RR = 10, p = 0.020) discriminated between groups I and II. A multivariate model demonstrated that the numbers of T cells (RR = 1.2, p = 0.015) and FLS (RR = 1.4, p = 0.013) were independent discriminators between groups I and II.

Conclusion: The numbers of granzyme B+ cytotoxic cells, T cells, and FLS in synovial tissue of patients with RA are related to the severity of joint damage. The data suggest a pathogenetic role for these cells in the process of joint damage.

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Selected References

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Figures and Tables

Figure 1
Example of strong positive staining for granzyme B+ cells (A), T cells (B), and fibroblast-like synoviocytes (C) in a patient with unfavourable radiological outcome (x400).
Figure 2
Box plots of the measurements in paired serum, synovial fluid, and synovial tissue of patients with early RA with more favourable (n = 3) and unfavourable (n = 4) radiological outcome. Depicted are (A) granzyme B in serum samples, (B) granzyme B in synovial ...

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