Open Access Open Badges Research article

Extracellular mitochondrial DNA and oxidatively damaged DNA in synovial fluid of patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Shahin Hajizadeh1*, Jeroen DeGroot2, Johan M TeKoppele2, Andrej Tarkowski1 and L Vincent Collins1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Rheumatology and Inflammation Research, University of Göteborg, Göteborg, Sweden

2 TNO Prevention and Health, Gaubius Laboratory, Leiden, The Netherlands

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Arthritis Res Ther 2003, 5:R234-R240  doi:10.1186/ar787

Published: 25 June 2003


We investigated whether plasma and synovial fluid (SF) samples from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) contained extracellular mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) or the oxidatively damaged DNA adduct 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine (8-oxodG). Moreover, we correlated the laboratory findings of the patients with RA with their levels of mtDNA and 8-oxodG. SF and plasma samples from 54 patients with RA, SF from 30 non-arthritic control subjects, and plasma from 22 healthy volunteers were collected. The samples were subjected to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using mitochondrial genomic primers, and the products were analyzed by SDS–polyacrylamide-gel electrophoresis. The intensities of the PCR-amplified bands were quantified and normalized to a reference sample. Furthermore, the SF samples were assayed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for 8-oxodG. Extracellular PCR-amplifiable mtDNA was detected in the SF of 38 of 54 (70%) patients with RA, but not in any of the SF controls. PCR-amplifiable mtDNA was detected in the plasma of 30 of 54 (56%) of patients with RA and in 6 of 22 (27%) of the healthy volunteers. The levels of mtDNA in the plasma and SF samples of patients with RA were significantly higher (P < 0.0001) than in the respective control samples. The presence of both mtDNA and 8-oxodG in SF was significantly correlated with the presence of rheumatoid factor in the patients with RA. Extracellular mtDNA and oxidized DNA were detected in the SF of the great majority of patients with RA, but were absent or present at low levels in the control SF. These findings indicate that endogenous nucleic acid compounds might participate in joint inflammation by activating immune cells in the joints to produce proinflammatory cytokines.

8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine; mitochondrial DNA; rheumatoid arthritis; synovial fluid.