The association of lipid abnormalities with tissue pathology in human osteoarthritic articular cartilage
The association of lipid abnormalities with tissue pathology in human osteoarthritic articular cartilage☆
Articular cartilage is one of very few body tissues uniquely characterized as having substantial stores of lipid deposits. Lipid droplets are naturally accumulated by chondrocytes and individual fatty acids have been shown to have protective as well as deleterious effects on cartilage degradation in animal models of degenerative joint disease. As a means to better assess the role of lipids in human joint pathology, a comparative analysis of fatty acids was undertaken in small segments of osteoarthritic articular cartilage. The data were assessed in terms of chondrocyte synthetic activity and histological determination of disease severity. The distribution profile of individual fatty acids in normal and osteoarthritic specimens remained constant, with palmitic, oleic, and linoleic acids representing 85% of the total fatty acids. In contrast, levels of total fatty acids were markedly increased in association with increasing degree of lesion severity. Compared with tissue from normal-aged joints, grade 0 to 1 mild lesions had elevated levels of total fatty acids, essential fatty acids, and chondrocyte synthetic activity of 80%, 312%, and 393%, respectively. More severe tissue involvement (grade 6 to 9), was associated with even greater increases of 440%, 1,100%, and 1,150%, respectively. No change was noted in cholesterol content in any tissue. The accumulation of arachidonic acid was greater than the proportional increase in total fatty acid content and was primarily distributed into the neutral lipid fraction, where it constituted almost 62% of the fatty acid level in tissues of moderate lesion severity. There was an association of lipid accumulation in general and arachidonic acid in particular with histological severity. This association is suggestive of a lipid involvement in the chondrocyte's response to development or progression of degenerative joint disease.