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Joint synovial macrophages as a potential target for intra-articular treatment of osteoarthritis-related pain

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 05:01 authored by Wang, D, Chai, X-Q, Hu, S-S, Feng PanFeng Pan
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of joint disease and is one of the leading causes of chronic pain. Given the multi-factorial nature, numerous efforts have been made to clarify the multiple factors impacting the pain symptoms and joint pathology, including synovial macrophages in particular. Accumulating evidence from studies involving human participants and experimental animal models suggests that accumulating macrophages in synovial tissue are implicated in peripherally mediated pain sensitization of affected joints in osteoarthritis. Crosstalk between synovial macrophages and the innervating primary nociceptive neurons is thought to contribute to this facilitated pain processing by the peripheral nervous system. Due to high plasticity and complexity of synovial macrophages in the joint, safe therapies targeting single cells or molecules are currently lacking. Using advanced technologies (such as single-cell RNA sequencing and mass cytometry), studies have shown that diverse subpopulations of synovial macrophages exist in the distinct synovial microenvironments of specific osteoarthritis subtypes. Considerable progress has been made in delineating the molecular mechanisms of various subsets of synovial macrophages in the development of osteoarthritis. To develop a novel intra-articular treatment paradigm targeting synovial macrophages, we have summarized in this review the recent advances in identifying the functional consequences of synovial macrophage sub-populations and understanding of the molecular mechanisms driving macrophage-mediated remodeling.


Publication title

Osteoarthritis and Cartilage






Menzies Institute for Medical Research


W B Saunders Co Ltd

Place of publication

32 Jamestown Rd, London, England, Nw1 7By

Rights statement

© 2021 Osteoarthritis Research Society International. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Human pain management; Treatment of human diseases and conditions; Evaluation of health outcomes

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