Objective: To reassess synovial intimal cell populations by light microscopy.
Methods: Non-inflamed, rheumatoid and osteoarthritic synovia were analyzed as tissue sections and cytospin preparations by a series of combined immunohistochemical and cytochemical staining techniques.
Results: Two populations of intimal cells were identified. The first carried macrophage markers. The second showed high uridine diphosphoglucose dehydrogenase (UDPGD) activity, minimal cytoplasmic CD68, absent non-specific esterase (NSE) activity, and absent leukocyte and endothelial antigens. The majority of these cells showed a high content of prolyl hydroxylase.
Conclusion: Combined cytochemical staining for NSE and UDPGD activity allows effective separation of intimal cell populations. We suggest that the cells of high UDPGD activity are the fibroblast-like or type B synovial intimal cells defined by electron microscopy. High UDPGD activity probably reflects a preferential ability to synthesize glycosaminoglycans, including hyaluronan.