Innate inflammation and synovial macrophages in osteoarthritis pathophysiology

Clin Exp Rheumatol. Sep-Oct 2019;37 Suppl 120(5):57-63. Epub 2019 Oct 15.


Although osteoarthritis (OA) was historically referred to as the non-inflammatory arthritis, it is now considered a condition involving persistent low-grade inflammation and activation of innate inflammatory pathways. Synovitis increases the risk of OA onset and progression and involves the recruitment of monocytes, lymphocytes, and other leukocytes. In particular, macrophages are important mediators of synovial inflammatory activity and pathologic cartilage and bone responses that are characteristic of OA. Advances in understanding how damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) trigger monocyte/macrophage recruitment and activation in joints provide opportunities for disease-modifying therapies. However, the complexity and plasticity of macrophage phenotypes that exist in vivo have thus far prevented the successful development of macrophage-targeted treatments. Current studies show that synovial macrophages are derived from distinct cellular lineages, which correspond to unique functional roles for maintaining joint homeostasis. An improved understanding of the aetiology of synovial inflammation in specific OA-subtypes, such as with obesity or genetic risk, is a potential strategy for developing patient selection criteria for future precision therapies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Monocytes
  • Osteoarthritis* / immunology
  • Osteoarthritis* / pathology
  • Synovitis* / immunology
  • Synovitis* / pathology