An ultrastructural and light microscopic study of the synovium in ochronotic arthropathy

Hum Pathol. 1987 Nov;18(11):1160-4. doi: 10.1016/s0046-8177(87)80385-4.


The synovium in two well-documented cases of alkaptonuric ochronosis was studied by transmission electron and light microscopy. A feature of alkaptonuria previously unreported in the English-language literature was the presence of phagocytosis of large collagen fibrils by synovial macrophages in both cases. The origin of these fibrils appeared to have been shards of ochronotic cartilage and areas of metaplastic cartilage. This finding suggests that active remodeling of the synovial tissues occurs in advanced ochronotic arthropathy. Numerous shards of ochronotic cartilage were embedded in the synovium. In addition, small aggregates of large collagen fibrils encrusted with apparent ochronotic pigment were occasionally noted in the interstitium. These aggregates of ochronotic collagen are best described as microshards, and they have not generally been recognized in the literature. What appeared by light microscopy to represent ochronotic pigment deposition in interstitial collagen actually represented embedded microshards of ochronotic cartilage in the interstitium. Slender and elongated microshards were most likely to be confused by light microscopy as ochronotic interstitial collagen.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology
  • Cartilage, Articular / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Joint Diseases / etiology
  • Joint Diseases / pathology*
  • Male
  • Microscopy
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Middle Aged
  • Ochronosis / complications
  • Ochronosis / pathology*
  • Synovial Membrane / pathology*
  • Synovial Membrane / ultrastructure