Objective: To compare the levels of collagenase, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases (TIMP), and collagenase-TIMP complex in synovial fluid (SF) from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and patients with osteoarthritis (OA). This study aims to clarify existing data from previously used enzyme or inhibitor activity assays performed following separation by gel filtration, by using a 1-step enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for each component.
Methods: Total collagenase, free TIMP, and collagenase-TIMP complex were measured using a newly developed, specific double-antibody sandwich ELISA:
Results: Levels of both collagenase and TIMP were significantly higher in RA patients (collagenase 1,560 +/- 150 ng/ml [mean +/- SEM], TIMP 1,610 +/- 130 ng/ml; n = 80) than OA patients (collagenase 420 +/- 90 ng/ml, TIMP 1,050 +/- 60 ng/ml; n = 80), with the difference being especially striking for collagenase. Sixteen RA fluids had detectable levels of collagenase-TIMP complex, compared with only 3 OA fluids.
Conclusion: The level of total collagenase in SF is greater in RA than OA, while levels of free TIMP show more overlap between the 2 diseases; this may simply reflect the increased inflammation seen in RA, or it may reflect a different disease mechanism.