Objective: To elucidate the involvement of telomerase activity in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and pigmented villonodular synovitis (PVS).
Methods: Peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL), synovial infiltrating lymphocytes, and synoviocytes were isolated from peripheral blood samples and synovial tissue obtained from 18 patients with RA, 9 with PVS, 12 with osteoarthritis (OA), and 10 with knee joint trauma. Cellular telomerase activity was measured by the telomeric repeat amplification protocol assay. In RA patients, the telomerase activity level in synovial infiltrating lymphocytes was assessed for correlations with histologic features in rheumatoid synovium.
Results: A high level of telomerase activity was detected in the PBL and synovial infiltrating lymphocytes from RA patients and in the synoviocytes from PVS patients, whereas the enzyme activity was expressed at a low-to-borderline level in the PBL and synovial lymphocytes from OA, PVS, and trauma patients and was absent in the synoviocytes from RA as well as OA and trauma patients. In RA patients, the telomerase activity level in synovial infiltrating lymphocytes was significantly correlated with the intensity of synovial lining hyperplasia, microvessel proliferation, lymphocyte infiltration, and percentage of synovial cells positive for proliferating cell nuclear antigen in rheumatoid synovium.
Conclusion: Telomerase activation in lymphocytes may provide insights into the progression of synovitis and synovial proliferation in RA. Moreover, the enzyme may be implicated in the proliferation of synoviocytes in PVS.