The Stainable Mucin of Joint Tissues and Synovial Fluid


JOINT synovial fluid is considered to be a dialysate of blood with added mucin, which consists of hyaluronic acid1. The source of the latter is uncertain, but the belief is current that the synovial membrane is the likely site of formation. Articular cartilage is said to contain no hyaluronic acid, and the sulphated mucopolysaccharide it does contain is not found in appreciable quantity in synovial fluid. Synovial membrane is not lined by an epithelium, but is composed of fine, compact connective tissue of variable cellularity2, the cells being indistinguishable from fibroblasts by electron microscopy3. Claims have been made that the ‘membrane’, especially in its superficial part, stains with mucicarmine4–6, and also reacts with the periodic acid – Schiff technique3. Metachromasia, which might indicate the presence of hyaluronic acid in the membrane, has not been unequivocally demonstrated; some claim that the membrane is metachromatic6,7, but others deny it3,5.

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    Ogston, A. G., and Stainer, J. E., J. Physiol., 119, 244 (1953).

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    Petersen, H., in von Möllendorff's Handbuch der mikroskopischen Anatomie des Menschen, 2, 2, 521 (Springer, Berlin, 1930).

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    Lever, J. D., and Ford, E. H. R., Anat. Rec., 132, 525 (1958).

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    Cherry, J. H., and Ghormley, R. K., J. Bone Jt. Surg., 20, 48 (1938).

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    Davies, D. V., J. Anat. (Lond.), 77, 160 (1943).

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    Meibach, E., Acta Anat., 17, 175 (1953).

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    Wislocki, G. B., Bunting, H., and Dempsey, E. W., Amer. J. Anat., 81, 1 (1947).

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MARTIN, B., SHAW, N. The Stainable Mucin of Joint Tissues and Synovial Fluid. Nature 190, 835–836 (1961).

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