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Open Access Research article

Intrinsic multipotential mesenchymal stromal cell activity in gelatinous Heberden’s nodes in osteoarthritis at clinical presentation

Thomas G Baboolal1, Sally A Boxall1, Sarah M Churchman12, Conor T Buckley3, Elena Jones12 and Dennis McGonagle12*

Author Affiliations

1 Leeds Institute of Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Medicine, University of Leeds, Chapel Allerton Hospital, Chapleltown Road, Leeds LS7 4SA, UK

2 NIHR Leeds Musculoskeletal Biomedical Research Unit, Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust, Chapel Allerton Hospital, Chapleltown Road, Leeds LS7 4SA, UK

3 Trinity Centre for Bioengineering, Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, Trinity College Dublin, 152-160 Pearse Street, Dublin 2, Ireland

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2014, 16:R119  doi:10.1186/ar4574

Published: 3 June 2014

Abstract

Introduction

Gelatinous Heberden’s nodes (HNs), also termed synovial cysts, are a common form of generalized osteoarthritis (OA). We sought to determine whether HN cases at clinical presentation contained multipotential stromal cells (MSCs) and to explore whether such cells were more closely related to bone marrow (BM) or synovial fluid (SF) MSCs by transcriptional analysis.

Methods

At clinical presentation, gelatinous material was extracted/extruded from the distal phalangeal joint of OA patients with HNs. From this, plastic adherent cells were culture-expanded for phenotypic and functional characterization and comparison with BM- and SF-MSCs. Mesenchymal related gene expression was studied by using a custom-designed TaqMan Low Density Array to determine transcriptional similarities between different MSC groups and skin fibroblasts.

Results

In all cases, HN material produced MSC-like colonies. Adherent cultures displayed an MSC phenotype (CD29+, CD44+, CD73+, CD81+, and CD90+ and CD14- CD19-, CD31-, CD34-, CD45-, and HLADR-) and exhibited osteogenic, chondrogenic lineage differentiation but weak adipogenesis. Gene cluster analysis showed that HN-MSCs were more closely related to SF- than normal or OA BM-MSCs with significantly higher expression of synovium-related gene markers such as bone morphogenic protein 4 (BMP4), bone morphogenetic protein receptor type 1A (BMPR1A), protein/leucine-rich end leucine-rich repeat protein (PRELP), secreted frizzled-related protein 4 (SFRP4), and tumor necrosis factor alpha-induced protein 6 (TNFAIP6) (P <0.05).

Conclusions

Gelatinous HNs derived from hand OA at clinical presentation contain a population of MSCs that share transcriptional similarities with SF-derived MSCs. Their aberrant entrapment within the synovial cysts may impact on their normal role in joint homeostasis.