Inorganic pyrophosphate metabolism in arthritis

Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 1988 Aug;14(2):289-302.


Once thought of as a biosynthetic waste product, over the last 2 decades PPi has become understood as an entity with a variety of biologic roles (see Table 1). Documented roles include participation in intracellular Ca++ traffic, mediation of nucleotide and iron transport, storage of molecules in cellular granules, modification of enzyme function, and modulation of mineralization. Much has been established regarding plasma, urine, and synovial fluid levels (see Fig. 1) and urinary excretion in health and disease. Derangements in intracellular PPi content of skin fibroblasts have been noted in patients with CPPD deposition arthropathy (see Table 2). Mechanisms by which elevated PPi concentration develops in synovial fluid from joints with CPPD deposition and related arthropathies have come under scrutiny. The chondrocyte is now recognized as the probable cellular source of intra-articular extracellular PPi (see Figs. 3 and 4). Special attention has been focused on two basic pathways by which chondrocytes could generate extracellular PPi (see Fig. 2). In the first mechanism, chondrocytes demonstrate a set of ectoenzymes which could work in concert to directly produce extracellular PPi. The second pathway involves the major reactions by which PPi is formed within the cell and how intracellular PPi thus formed could be transported into the extracellular space. Much future research is needed regarding these two pathways and their relative importance in the pathogenesis of CPPD crystal deposition and related arthropathies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arthritis / metabolism*
  • Calcium Pyrophosphate / metabolism
  • Cartilage, Articular / metabolism
  • Diphosphates / metabolism*
  • Diphosphates / physiology
  • Extracellular Space / metabolism
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Synovial Fluid / metabolism


  • Diphosphates
  • Calcium Pyrophosphate