Increased expression of interferon (IFN)-gamma together with IFN-gamma receptor in the rheumatoid synovial membrane compared with synovium of patients with osteoarthritis

Br J Rheumatol. 1996 Jan;35(1):24-32. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/35.1.24.


Data concerning the presence of T-cell-derived cytokines in the rheumatic joint are conflicting, challenging the hypothesis that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a T-cell-mediated disease. In this study synovial tissue specimens of 11 patients with RA and eight patients with osteoarthritis (OA) were stained for interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) and its receptor. The level of expression of IFN-gamma was compared with that in tissue specimens of delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) reactions of the skin and of chronic tonsillitis. Furthermore, the percentage of T-lymphocytes which stained positive for IFN-gamma was determined using double staining techniques. IFN-gamma and its receptor were detected in all patients with RA and in 7/8 and 3/8, respectively, of patients with OA. Expression of IFN-gamma (P<0.02) and IFN-gamma receptor (P<0.01) in synovial tissue of patients with RA was more abundant compared with that in patients with OA. Although IFN-gamma could be detected in RA synovial tissue, the level of expression was less when compared with DTH reactions of the skin and tonsillitis. The percentage of CD3+ cells being positive for IFN-gamma was approximately 1% in RA, whereas in DTH reactions of the skin it was >90% and in tonsillitis approximately 30%. We conclude that the presence of IFN-gamma and its receptor in RA synovial tissue suggests a role for this cytokine in the ongoing immunological reaction of the inflamed joint.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD / metabolism*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / metabolism*
  • CD3 Complex / analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Delayed / immunology
  • Hypersensitivity, Delayed / metabolism
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Osteoarthritis / immunology
  • Osteoarthritis / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Interferon / metabolism*
  • Synovial Membrane / immunology
  • Synovial Membrane / metabolism*
  • Tonsillitis / immunology
  • Tonsillitis / metabolism


  • Antigens, CD
  • CD3 Complex
  • Receptors, Interferon
  • interferon gamma receptor
  • Interferon-gamma