Levels of Keratan Sulfate in the Serum and Synovial Fluid of Patients With Osteoarthritis of the Knee

Giles V. Campion*, Fiona McCrae, Thomas J. Schnitzer, Mary Ellen Lenz, Paul A. Dieppe, Eugene J.‐M. A. Thonar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


We examined the relationship between serum and synovial fluid (SF) levels of antigenic keratan sulfate (KS) and the clinical, laboratory, and radiologic features of disease in 125 well‐characterized patients with knee osteoarthritis (OA). KS was quantified by enzyme‐linked immunosorbent assay, using an antibody specific for a highly sulfated epitope on KS chains; the results were calculated as equivalents of an international standard of KS from human costal cartilage. The mean level of serum KS (393 ng/ml) was significantly higher than those previously reported for populations of adults without OA. There was a wide scatter of serum KS values (range 156–912 ng/ml), with little correlation with clinical or radiologic features. Men had significantly higher levels than women (456 ± 135 ng/ml versus 368 ± 110 ng/ml, mean ± SD), and there was a statistically significant but weak association with indicators of polyarticular involvement (number of symptomatic joints, Heberden's nodes, hip symptoms) in women. Despite the wide scatter of results in the population as a whole, individual levels of KS were stable for up to 4 consecutive years in the 9 patients studied. Levels of KS were much higher in SF (n = 25) than in serum, but the two were not correlated. There was an inverse correlation between radiographic evidence of cartilage loss and the level of KS in SF. The large variations in serum KS values suggest that this measure may not be of diagnostic significance among populations of patients. However, the stability of serum levels with time and the relationship between cartilage mass and SF levels may be useful for monitoring the individual patient's response to therapy, both systemically (serum KS) and in single joints (SF KS).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1254-1259
Number of pages6
JournalArthritis & Rheumatism
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 10 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology


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