Document Type


Publication Date



Osteoarthritis (OA) is characterized by synovitis and synovial fibrosis. Synoviocytes are fibroblast-like resident cells of the synovium that are activated by transforming growth factor (TGF)-β to proliferate, migrate, and produce extracellular matrix. Synoviocytes secrete hyaluronan (HA) and proteoglycan-4 (PRG4). HA reduces synovial fibrosis in vivo, and the Prg4−/− mouse exhibits synovial hyperplasia. We investigated the antifibrotic effects of increased intracellular cAMP in TGF-β-stimulated human OA synoviocytes. TGF-β1 stimulated collagen I (COL1A1), α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase (TIMP)-1, and procollagen-lysine, 2-oxoglutarate 5-dioxygenase 2 (PLOD2) expression, and procollagen I, α-SMA, HA, and PRG4 production, migration, and proliferation of OA synoviocytes were measured. Treatment of OA synoviocytes with forskolin (10 μM) increased intracellular cAMP levels and reduced TGF-β1-stimulated COL1A1, α-SMA, and TIMP-1 expression, with no change in PLOD2 expression. Forskolin also reduced TGF-β1-stimulated procollagen I and α-SMA content as well as synoviocyte migration and proliferation. Forskolin (10 μM) increased HA secretion and PRG4 expression and production. A cell-permeant cAMP analog reduced COL1A1 and α-SMA expression and enhanced HA and PRG4 secretion by OA synoviocytes. HA and PRG4 reduced α-SMA expression and content, and PRG4 reduced COL1A1 expression and procollagen I content in OA synoviocytes. Prg4−/− synovium exhibited increased α-SMA, COL1A1, and TIMP-1 expression compared with Prg4+/+ synovium. Prg4−/− synoviocytes demonstrated strong α-SMA and collagen type I staining, whereas these were undetected in Prg4+/+ synoviocytes and were reduced with PRG4 treatment. We conclude that increasing intracellular cAMP levels in synoviocytes mitigates synovial fibrosis through enhanced production of HA and PRG4, possibly representing a novel approach for treatment of OA synovial fibrosis.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in American Journal of Physiology-Cell Physiology, volume 315, issue 3, in 2018. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at


American Physiological Society



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.