Objective: Free fatty acids (FAs) may influence cartilage metabolism and osteoarthritis (OA) disease progression. It is not clearly studied which FAs are present in the synovial fluid of knee joints and whether there are differences in FA content between nonsymptomatic and OA knee joints. The aim of this study was to investigate the presence of different types of FAs in synovial fluid of both OA- and nonsymptomatic control joints, and to analyze differences between both groups.
Design: A total of 23 synovial fluid samples were collected from patients with end-stage knee OA undergoing total knee replacement, with approval of the medical ethical committee. As controls, 6 synovial fluid samples were obtained from postmortem donors without any history of joint disease or arthritis. Measurement of free FA concentration was done by mass spectrometry for saturated FAs (SFA), monounsaturated FAs (MUFA), and omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated FAs (n-3 PUFAs and n-6 PUFAs).
Results: Our measurements demonstrated the presence of SFAs, MUFAs, n-3 and n-6 PUFAs in synovial fluid of both nonsymptomatic and OA knee joints. The n-6/n-3 ratio was significantly lower in the OA group (P = 0.0005). Arachidonic acid (n-6 PUFA) concentrations were also lower in OA synovial fluid (P = 0.01), while tetracosadienoic acid (P = 0.0001) and nervonic acid (P = 0.001) (MUFAs) were higher in synovial fluid of patients with knee OA.
Conclusion: Synovial fluid contains a broad spectrum of free FAs. The FAs profile differs between OA and control subjects, including a tendency for less n-6 FAs in OA joints.
Keywords: fatty acids; osteoarthritis; synovial fluid.