Source and hub of inflammation: The infrapatellar fat pad and its interactions with articular tissues during knee osteoarthritis

J Orthop Res. 2022 Jul;40(7):1492-1504. doi: 10.1002/jor.25347. Epub 2022 May 8.


Knee osteoarthritis, the most prevalent degenerative joint disorder worldwide, is driven by chronic low-grade inflammation and subsequent cartilage degradation. Clinical data on the role of the Hoffa or infrapatellar fat pad in knee osteoarthritis are, however, scarce. The infrapatellar fat pad is a richly innervated intracapsular, extrasynovial adipose tissue, and an abundant source of adipokines and proinflammatory and catabolic cytokines, which may contribute to chronic synovial inflammation, cartilage destruction, and subchondral bone remodeling during knee osteoarthritis. How the infrapatellar fat pad interacts with neighboring tissues is poorly understood. Here, we review available literature with regard to the infrapatellar fat pad's interactions with cartilage, synovium, bone, menisci, ligaments, and nervous tissue during the development and progression of knee osteoarthritis. Signaling cascades are described with a focus on immune cell populations, pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines, adipokines, mesenchymal stromal cells, and molecules derived from conditioned media from the infrapatellar fat pad. Understanding the complex interplay between the infrapatellar fat pad and its neighboring articular tissues may help to better understand and treat the multifactorial pathogenesis of osteoarthritis.

Keywords: cartilage; cytokines; immune cells; mesenchymal stromal cells; subchondral bone.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipokines / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Knee Joint / pathology
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee* / pathology


  • Adipokines
  • Cytokines