The role of crystals in articular tissue degeneration.

H. S. Cheung

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The deposition of calcium-containing crystals in articular tissues is probably an underrecognized event. Clinical observations indicate that exaggerated and uniquely distributed cartilage degeneration is associated with these deposits. Perhaps the most compelling argument favoring a role for crystals in causing osteoarthritis stems from their in vitro effects on articular tissues. In this short review, we will discuss the fact that crystals can cause the degeneration of articular tissues in 2 separate pathways. In the "Direct" pathway, crystals directly induce fibroblast-like synoviocytes to proliferate and produce metalloproteinases and prostaglandins. The other "Paracrine pathway" involves the interaction between crystals and macrophages/monocytes, which leads to synthesis and release of cytokines that can reinforce the action of crystals on synoviocytes and induce chondrocytes to secrete enzymes, eventually causing the degeneration of articular tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)128-131
Number of pages4
JournalCurrent rheumatology reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology


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