Open Access Open Badges Research article

Adiponectin may contribute to synovitis and joint destruction in rheumatoid arthritis by stimulating vascular endothelial growth factor, matrix metalloproteinase-1, and matrix metalloproteinase-13 expression in fibroblast-like synoviocytes more than proinflammatory mediators

Hyun-Mi Choi1, Yeon-Ah Lee2, Sang-Hoon Lee3, Seung-Jae Hong2, Dae-Hyun Hahm4, Sang-Yun Choi5, Hyung-In Yang3, Myung Chul Yoo1* and Kyoung Soo Kim1*

Author Affiliations

1 East-West Bone & Joint Research Institute, East-West Neo Medical Center, Kyung Hee University, 149 Sangil-dong, Gangdong-gu, Seoul, 134-727, Republic of Korea

2 Division of Rheumatology, Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, Kyung Hee University, Hoegi-1-dong, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul, 130-702, Republic of Korea

3 Division of Rheumatology, Department of Internal Medicine, East-West Neo Medical Center, Kyung Hee University, 149 Sangil-dong, Gangdong-gu, Seoul, 134-727, Republic of Korea

4 Acupuncture and Meridian Science Research Center, Kyung Hee University, Hoeggi-dong, Dongdaemoon-gu, Seoul, 130-702, Republic of Korea

5 School of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, Anam-dong Seongbuk-gu, Korea University, Seoul, 136-701, Republic of Korea

For all author emails, please log on.

Arthritis Research & Therapy 2009, 11:R161  doi:10.1186/ar2844

Published: 2 November 2009



The role of adiponectin in the pathogenesis of arthritis is still controversial. This study was performed to examine whether adiponectin is involved in joint inflammation and destruction in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in relation to the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs).


Synovial cells from RA patients were treated with adiponectin or interleukin (IL)-1β for 24 hours. The culture supernatant was collected and analyzed for the levels of IL-6, IL-8, prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), VEGF, and MMPs by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The levels of adiponectin, VEGF, MMP-1, and MMP-13 in the joint fluids from 30 RA or osteoarthritis (OA) patients were also measured.


Adiponectin at the concentration of 10 μg/mL stimulated the production of IL-6, IL-8, and PGE2 in RA fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs), although the level of these was much lower than with 1 ng/mL IL-1β. However, adiponectin stimulated the production of VEGF, MMP-1, and MMP-13 at the same level as IL-1β. In addition, the level of adiponectin and MMP-1 in the joint fluid of RA patients was significantly higher than in OA patients. Adiponectin was positively correlated with VEGF in RA patients but not in OA patients, while the level of MMPs in joint fluid was not correlated with adiponectin in either RA or OA patients.


Adiponectin may play a significant role in the pathogenesis of RA by stimulating the production of VEGF and MMPs in FLSs, leading to joint inflammation and destruction, respectively.