A new biochemical marker for joint injury. Analysis of YKL-40 in serum and synovial fluid

Br J Rheumatol. 1993 Nov;32(11):949-55. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/32.11.949.


We report the development of the first radioimmunoassay for YKL-40, a M(r) = 40 kDa protein which is secreted at high levels by human synovial cells and articular cartilage chondrocytes, and by the human osteosarcoma cell line MG63. This assay uses YKL-40 purified from the conditioned medium of MG63 cells as standard and tracer, and as antigen for immunizing rabbits. With this assay we have discovered high levels of YKL-40 antigen in serum and SF. The molecular weight of serum and SF YKL-40 is identical to purified YKL-40. To evaluate the possible utility of YKL-40 in the assessment of joint disease, we measured YKL-40 in serum and SF of 49 patients with various forms of inflammatory and degenerative joint disease and in the serum of 50 normal adults. The YKL-40 level in serum was significantly higher (P < 0.001) in the patients compared to the normal adults, but there was no difference in serum YKL-40 between the patients with inflammatory joint diseases and OA. The SF levels of YKL-40 were 15-fold higher than serum levels and there was a significant correlation (r = 0.55, P < 0.001) between YKL-40 concentration in SF and serum. Although the tissue distribution of YKL-40 secretion is presently unknown, these observations suggest that a major portion of serum YKL-40 in fact arises from the joint.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adipokines
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Biomarkers
  • Chitinase-3-Like Protein 1
  • Female
  • Glycoproteins*
  • Humans
  • Joints / injuries*
  • Lectins
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Radioimmunoassay / methods
  • Rheumatic Diseases / blood
  • Synovial Fluid / metabolism
  • Wounds and Injuries / blood
  • Wounds and Injuries / metabolism*


  • Adipokines
  • Biomarkers
  • CHI3L1 protein, human
  • Chitinase-3-Like Protein 1
  • Glycoproteins
  • Lectins
  • Proteins