Distinct Fatty Acid Signatures in Infrapatellar Fat Pad and Synovial Fluid of Patients with Osteoarthritis Versus Rheumatoid Arthritis

BACKGROUND:

Infrapatellar fat pad (IFP) has recently emerged as a potential source of inflammation in knee arthropathies. It has been proposed to be one source of adipocytokines, fatty acids (FA), and FA-derived lipid mediators that could contribute to the pathophysiological processes in the knee joint. Alterations in synovial fluid (SF) lipid composition have been linked to both osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The aim of the present study was to compare the FA signatures in the IFP and SF of RA and OA patients.

METHODS:

Pairs of IFP and SF samples were collected from the same knees of RA (n = 10) and OA patients (n = 10) undergoing total joint replacement surgery. Control SF samples (n = 6) were harvested during diagnostic or therapeutic arthroscopic knee surgery unrelated to RA or OA. The FA composition in the total lipids of IFP and SF was determined by gas chromatography with flame ionization and mass spectrometric detection.

RESULTS:

Arthropathies resulted in a significant reduction in the SF proportions of n-6 polyunsaturated FA (PUFA), more pronouncedly in OA than in RA. OA was also characterized with reduced percentages of 22:6n-3 and lower product/precursor ratios of n-3 PUFA. The proportions of total monounsaturated FA increased in both RA and OA SF. Regarding IFP, RA patients had lower proportions of 20:4n-6, total n-6 PUFA, and 22:6n-3, as well as lower product/precursor ratios of n-3 PUFA compared to OA patients. The average chain length of SF FA decreased in both diagnoses and the double bond index in OA.

CONCLUSIONS:

The observed complex alterations in the FA signatures could have both contributed to but also limited the inflammatory processes and cartilage destruction in the RA and OA knees.