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Blood. 2002 Aug 1;100(3):912-6.

c-myc proto-oncogene expression in hemophilic synovitis: in vitro studies of the effects of iron and ceramide.

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Department of Pediatrics, Rush Children's Hospital and Rush University, Chicago, IL 60612, USA.


Hemophilia is a rare congenital bleeding disorder that is due to the deficiency of blood coagulation factor VIII or IX. Recurrent musculoskeletal bleeding is common and bleeding into joints results in a chronic inflammatory condition termed hemophilic synovitis. This destructive process is characterized by hemosiderin deposition in the superficial and deeper layers of the synovial membrane as well as a proliferation of synovial fibroblasts and vascular cells. The hyperplastic synovium and neovascular changes are reminiscent of the histopathologic appearance observed in malignant tissues. Indeed, the benign hyperplastic synovium in patients with hemophilia displays similar invasive and destructive behaviors suggesting the possibility of analogous disturbances in growth control and locally invasive mechanisms. Iron plays a role in malignant cell growth, local invasion, and tumor progression, possibly due to changes in the expression of the proto-oncogene, c-myc. We hypothesized that iron plays a similar role in hemophilic synovitis. To explore this hypothesis, we investigated the in vitro effects of iron on the proliferation of a primary, human synovial fibroblast cell (HSFC) line and the involvement of c-myc in this process. We also examined the role of ceramide, a sphingolipid capable of inducing apoptosis in this model system. HSFC proliferation was increased in a dose-dependent fashion and c-myc expression was enhanced by ferric citrate compared to sodium citrate control. Ceramide prevented both the iron-induced increases in HSFC proliferation and c-myc expression. These results indicate that iron probably plays a role in the proliferative changes observed in hemophilic joint disease and that aberrant expression of c-myc may underlie the iron effects. Furthermore, these results suggest that there may be a therapeutic role for ceramide in reversing these changes.

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