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Am J Pathol. 2005 Jul;167(1):97-105.

Expression profiles and functional analyses of Wnt-related genes in human joint disorders.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Shinshu University School of Medicine, Asahi 3-1-1, Matsumoto, 390-8621, Japan.


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA) are joint disorders that cause major public health problems. Previous studies of the etiology of RA and OA have implicated Wnt genes, although the exact nature of their involvement remains unclear. To further clarify the relationship between RA, OA, and the Wnt gene family, gene expression analyses were performed on articular cartilage, bone, and synovial tissues in knee joints taken from RA, OA, and nor-mal/control patients. Cytokine assays were also performed in cells transfected with Wnt-7b, a member of the gene family most closely linked to RA and OA. Of the human Wnt genes, real-time PCR analysis revealed significant up-regulation of Wnt-7b in OA cartilage and RA synovium. In situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry also revealed that Wnt-7b was present in articular cartilage, bone, and synovium of RA samples and in osteophytes, articular cartilage, bone marrow, and synovium of OA samples. The levels of the cytokines tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin-1beta, and interleukin-6 were significantly increased in RA synovium and Wnt-7b-transfected normal synovial cells when compared with normal samples. These results point to the potential involvement of Wnt signaling in the pathobiology of both RA and OA.

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