Objective: To investigate whether fragmentation of proteoglycans in arthritis results in domains that have different levels of release from cartilage at different stages of the disease.
Methods: Two regions of the proteoglycan, the hyaluronan-binding region and the glycosaminoglycan-rich region of the core protein, were measured, by immunoassay, in knee joint synovial fluids of patients with rheumatoid arthritis or reactive arthritis.
Results: Synovial fluid concentrations of the glycosaminoglycan-rich region were highest in rheumatoid arthritis patients who had little cartilage damage as determined by radiography, whereas release of the hyaluronan-binding region predominated in patients with advanced cartilage destruction. In reactive arthritis, release of the glycosaminoglycan-rich region predominated.
Conclusion: These findings indicate that the hyaluronan-binding region is initially retained in the tissue during the development of cartilage destruction. The combined analysis of these markers offers a new avenue for assessment of the degree of cartilage damage in arthritis.