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Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2009 Jan-Feb;27(1):79-83.

Apolipoprotein A-I and cholesterol in synovial fluid of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and osteoarthritis.

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Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Padova, Italy.



To investigate lipid and apolipoprotein (Apo) levels in synovial fluid (SF) and serum of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and osteoarthritis (OA).


SF of 44 patients (14 RA, 14 PsA, 16 OA) was tested for Apo A-I, HDL-C, total cholesterol (TC), IL-1Beta, TNF-alpha, white blood cell count (WBC) and polymorphonucleate (PMN) percentage. Blood samples, collected simultaneously to the SF, were examined for Apo A-I, HDL-C, TC, TNF-alpha, serum amyloid A (SAA) and C-reactive protein (CRP). Thirty-three healthy donors served as a control group.


Serum levels of Apo A-I, HDL-C and TC were higher in OA as compared with RA, PsA and the control group. The patients with inflammatory arthritis had lower serum levels of Apo A-I and HDL-C than did the controls. Apo A-I concentrations were higher in SF of RA patients, while PsA showed the highest concentration of TC, though not reaching statistical significance. A negative correlation was found between serum Apo A-I and synovial WBC (r=-0.48 p=0.002) and IL-1Beta (r=-0.42 p=0.016). There was a strong positive correlation between the Apo A-I SF/serum ratio and synovial WBC (r=0.73 p<0.001), IL-1Beta (r=0.68 p<0.001) and a weak, yet significant, correlation with serum CRP (r=0.49 p=0.002) and SAA (r=0.41 p=0.008).


Our study confirms that in RA Apo A-I and TC levels are decreased in plasma and increased in SF, thus suggesting infiltration of HDL particles in the inflamed joint with inhibition of the local production of proinflammatory cytokines. On the other hand, it can be hypothesized that the sequestration of Apo A-I in the inflamed tissue may, in part, account for the reduction of circulating HDL and the excess cardiovascular risk in RA and PsA patients.

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