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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2007

Interleukin-6 and tumour necrosis factor in synovial fluid from horses with carpal joint pathology

Ley C, Ekman S, Elmen A, Nilsson G, Eloranta ML


The carpal joints are common sites of traumatic arthritis and osteoarthritis (OA) in athletic horses. The pro-inflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-6 and tumour necrosis factor (TNF) may be of great importance in the development of intra-articular lesions. The aim of the present study was to investigate possible associations between synovial fluid levels of bioactive IL-6 and TNF and different types of joint lesions seen in traumatic arthritis and OA. Synovial fluid was collected from horses with carpal lameness immediately before arthroscopic surgery. Articular cartilage, synovial membranes and intra-articular ligaments were assessed macroscopically at arthroscopy. Synovial fluid levels of IL-6 and TNF were determined by bioassays, and the cytokine levels between different grades of morphologic changes in each type of assessed tissue were compared. The highest levels of IL-6 were detected in joints with chip fractures. All joints with chip fractures also showed some degree of synovitis. Tumour necrosis factor bioactivity was low and not associated with any joint lesion. Hence, TNF is not useful as a biomarker indicating a specific joint lesion in equine traumatic arthritis or OA. We conclude that a dramatic increase of IL-6 in synovial fluid indicates the presence of osteochondral fragmentation, although low or undetectable levels of IL-6 do not exclude chip fractures. The role of IL-6 in the disease process of osteochondral fragmentation needs further investigation

Published in

Zentralblatt für Veterinärmedizin
2007, Volume: 54, number: 7, pages: 346-351