Role of adhesion molecules in synovial inflammation

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Purpose of review

The ability of cells to adhere to other cells and extracellular matrix (ECM) through cellular adhesion molecules (CAMs) is central to tissue remodeling and inflammation. This review discusses the potential role of CAMs in development of synovial inflammation through regulating the recruitment of inflammatory cells via endothelial–leukocyte interactions, the organization and activation of leukocytes in the synovial sublining, and the formation and behavior of the hyperplastic synovial lining.

Recent findings

Over the past several years valuable insight has been gained into the role of cell–cell and cell–ECM adhesive interactions in synovial organization and inflammation. Recently, cadherin-11 was identified on fibroblast-like synoviocytes and has been demonstrated to play a central role in synovial lining organization. Furthermore, studies using animal models of inflammatory arthritis have demonstrated critical roles for E- and P-selectins, CD11a/CD18 [lymphocyte function-associated antigen (LFA)-1], α4β1 integrin, and cadherin-11 in the development of synovial inflammation.


Cell–cell and cell–ECM interactions through CAMs play an important role in synovial inflammation. Future studies of CAMs are needed to define more thoroughly their role in synovial inflammation and their potential as therapeutic targets in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and related inflammatory arthritic conditions.

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