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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Effects of hyaluronan treatment on lipopolysaccharide-challenged fibroblast-like synovial cells

Kelly S Santangelo1, Amanda L Johnson1, Amy S Ruppert2 and Alicia L Bertone1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, 1900 Coffey Road, Columbus OH 43210, USA

2 Center for Biostatistics, The Ohio State University, 320 West 10th Avenue, Columbus OH 43210, USA

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2007, 9:R1  doi:10.1186/ar2104

Published: 10 January 2007


Numerous investigations have reported the efficacy of exogenous hyaluronan (HA) in modulating acute and chronic inflammation. The current study was performed to determine the in vitro effects of lower and higher molecular weight HA on lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-challenged fibroblast-like synovial cells. Normal synovial fibroblasts were cultured in triplicate to one of four groups: group 1, unchallenged; group 2, LPS-challenged (20 ng/ml); group 3, LPS-challenged following preteatment and sustained treatment with lower molecular weight HA; and group 4, LPS-challenged following pretreatment and sustained treatment with higher molecular weight HA. The response to LPS challenge and the influence of HA were compared among the four groups using cellular morphology scoring, cell number, cell viability, prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) production, IL-6 production, matrix metalloproteinase 3 (MMP3) production, and gene expression microarray analysis. As expected, our results demonstrated that LPS challenge induced a loss of characteristic fibroblast-like synovial cell culture morphology (P < 0.05), decreased the cell number (P < 0.05), increased PGE2 production 1,000-fold (P < 0.05), increased IL-6 production 15-fold (P < 0.05), increased MMP3 production threefold (P < 0.05), and generated a profile of gene expression changes typical of LPS (P < 0.005). Importantly, LPS exposure at this concentration did not alter the cell viability. Higher molecular weight HA decreased the morphologic change (P < 0.05) associated with LPS exposure. Both lower and higher molecular weight HA significantly altered a similar set of 21 probe sets (P < 0.005), which represented decreased expression of inflammatory genes (PGE2, IL-6) and catabolic genes (MMP3) and represented increased expression of anti-inflammatory and anabolic genes. The molecular weight of the HA product did not affect the cell number, the cell viability or the PGE2, IL-6, or MMP3 production. Taken together, the anti-inflammatory and anticatabolic gene expression profiles of fibroblast-like synovial cells treated with HA and subsequently challenged with LPS support the pharmacologic benefits of treatment with HA regardless of molecular weight. The higher molecular weight HA product provided a cellular protective effect not seen with the lower molecular weight HA product.