The Effect of Dexamethasone, Adrenergic and Cholinergic Receptor Agonists on Phospholipid Metabolism in Human Osteoarthritic Synoviocytes

Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Jan 15;20(2):342. doi: 10.3390/ijms20020342.


Phospholipids (PLs) possess the unique ability to contribute to synovial joint lubrication. The aim of our study was to determine for the first time the effect of dexamethasone and some adrenergic and cholinergic agonists on the biosynthesis and release of PLs from human fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS). Osteoarthritic human knee FLS were treated with dexamethasone, terbutaline, epinephrine, carbachol, and pilocarpine, or the glucocorticoid receptor antagonist RU 486. Simultaneously PL biosynthesis was determined through the incorporation of stable isotope-labeled precursors into PLs. Radioactive isotope-labeled precursors were used to radiolabel PLs for the subsequent quantification of their release into nutrient media. Lipids were extracted and quantified using electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry or liquid scintillation counting. Dexamethasone significantly decreased the biosynthesis of phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), PE-based plasmalogen, and sphingomyelin. The addition of RU 486 abolished these effects. A release of PLs from FLS into nutrient media was not recognized by any of the tested agents. None of the adrenergic or cholinergic receptor agonists modulated the PL biosynthesis. We demonstrate for the first time an inhibitory effect of dexamethasone on the PL biosynthesis of FLS from human knees. Moreover, our study indicates that the PL metabolism of synovial joints and lungs are differently regulated.

Keywords: carbachol; dexamethasone; epinephrine; fibroblast-like synoviocytes; osteoarthritis; phospholipids; pilocarpine; sphingolipids; synoviocytes; terbutaline.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cholinergic Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mifepristone / pharmacology
  • Models, Biological
  • Osteoarthritis / metabolism
  • Osteoarthritis / pathology*
  • Phospholipids / biosynthesis
  • Phospholipids / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Adrenergic / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Cholinergic / metabolism*
  • Synoviocytes / drug effects
  • Synoviocytes / pathology*


  • Adrenergic Agonists
  • Cholinergic Agonists
  • Phospholipids
  • Receptors, Adrenergic
  • Receptors, Cholinergic
  • Mifepristone
  • Dexamethasone