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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Biologically active thrombomodulin is synthesized by adherent synovial fluid cells and is elevated in synovial fluid of patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Thrombomodulin (TM) is a transmembrane glycoprotein that interacts with thrombin, thereby serving as a cofactor in the activation of protein C, a major physiologically relevant natural anticoagulant. Although initially described as a vascular endothelial cell receptor, TM has also been reported to be synthesized by several cells, including megakaryocytes, platelets, monocytes, neutrophils (PMN), mesothelial cells, and synovial lining cells. A prominent feature of rheumatoid arthritis ( RA) is infiltration of PMN into the joint space. To determine whether TM might play a role in the inflammatory process, we examined synovial fluid for the presence of TM in 10 patients with RA and five patients with osteoarthritis (OA). We determined that the mean synovial fluid and plasma TM levels in the OA group were 23.5 ng/mL and 24.2 ng/mL, respectively, whereas those with RA had a significantly elevated mean synovial fluid TM level of 136.2 ng/mL as compared with the plasma TM concentration of 43.9 ng/mL (P < .05). Synovial fluid TM levels did not correlate with PMN counts (r = .261). Purified TM from synovial fluid was identical in molecular weight to plasma-derived TM and was biologically functional with respect to protein C cofactor activity. Using direct immunofluorescence, we determined that adherent cultured synovial fluid cells that are not monocytoid in origin express surface and cytoplasmic TM, thereby providing an alternative source of the protein. Biologic activity of the cell-surface TM was confirmed by acceleration of thrombin-dependent protein C activation. Northern analysis of RNA extracted from the cultured cells indicated that TM messenger RNA was present, suggesting local synthesis. Our results indicate that in RA-associated synovial effusions, biologically active TM is increased, the source of which may be from plasma, PMN, and/or synovial lining cells. TM may play a regulatory role either in fibrin deposition in the inflamed joint and/or in the progression of the inflammatory process.[1]


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