The underlying molecular mechanisms in osteoarthritis (OA) development are largely unknown. This study explores the proteome and the pairwise interplay of proteins in synovial fluid from patients with late-stage knee OA (arthroplasty), early knee OA (arthroscopy due to degenerative meniscal tear), and from deceased controls without knee OA. Synovial fluid samples were analyzed using state-of-the-art mass spectrometry with data-independent acquisition. The differential expression of the proteins detected was clustered and evaluated with data mining strategies and a multilevel model. Group-specific slopes of associations were estimated between expressions of each pair of identified proteins to assess the co-expression (i.e., interplay) between the proteins in each group. More proteins were increased in early-OA versus controls than late-stage OA versus controls. For most of these proteins, the fold changes between late-stage OA versus controls and early-stage OA versus controls were remarkably similar suggesting potential involvement in the OA process. Further, for the first time, this study illustrated distinct patterns in protein co-expression suggesting that the interplay between the protein machinery is increased in early-OA and lost in late-stage OA. Further efforts should focus on earlier stages of the disease than previously considered.
Keywords: DIA; early- and late-stage OA; osteoarthritis; proteomics; synovial fluid.
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