Chondroclasts and osteoclasts at subchondral sites of erosion in the rheumatoid joint

Arthritis Rheum. 1984 Sep;27(9):968-75. doi: 10.1002/art.1780270902.


Histochemical and ultrastructural studies of bone-cartilage junctions from 21 rheumatoid knee joints have demonstrated the presence of both osteoclasts and chondroclasts. Significant erosions of bone and mineralized cartilage were observed in 15 specimens, and 6 showed localized erosions of unmineralized (hyaline) cartilage. Chondroclasts, defined by their close association with both mineralized and unmineralized cartilage, were morphologically and histochemically similar to osteoclasts. Our observations suggest that these multinucleate cells play a crucial role in subchondral tissue destruction, but that erosion of unmineralized cartilage is primarily the result of synovial pannus tissue.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acid Phosphatase / metabolism
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / metabolism
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / pathology*
  • Bone Resorption / pathology*
  • Cartilage, Articular / enzymology
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology*
  • Cartilage, Articular / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / pathology*
  • Knee Joint / ultrastructure
  • Naphthol AS D Esterase / metabolism
  • Osteoclasts / enzymology
  • Osteoclasts / pathology*
  • Osteoclasts / ultrastructure


  • Naphthol AS D Esterase
  • Acid Phosphatase
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases