Synovial fibroblasts from patients with osteoarthritis in culture produced parathyroid hormone-related peptide (PTHrP) on treatment with phorbol ester (TPA) in a dose- and time-dependent manner. The levels of PTHrP immunoreactivity in the conditioned medium of synovial fibroblast cultures were measured using specific PTHrP antibody. The maximum production was obtained at a concentration of 10(-8) M and 24 h after TPA treatment. But sensitivity to TPA of synovial fibroblasts differed among four patients from slight to marked. PTHrP production was also induced with inflammatory cytokines, such as 1 ng/ml of IL-1alpha, IL-1beta, IL-6 and TNF-alpha, and 10(-6) M prostaglandin E2, after 24 h treatment. The expression of PTHrP was confirmed by reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. Since the synovial fibroblasts isolated from osteoarthritic patients produce high levels of IL-6 and IL-8, typical cytokines produced in synovial fibroblasts, production of PTHrP may provide new insight into the pathophysiology of joint disorder.