To investigate the association between markers of synovial inflammation and matrix turnover (MRI-based and serum biomarkers) and knee symptoms in established knee osteoarthritis (KOA). This cross-sectional study utilised data from a randomised, multicentre placebo-controlled trial (UK-VIDEO) of vitamin D therapy in symptomatic KOA. Data on serum biomarkers, type III collagen degradation (C3M), metabolite of C-reactive protein (CRPM) and cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP), were available at baseline whilst contrast-enhanced (CE) MRI data were acquired in a subsample at baseline and annually. Knee symptoms were assessed using WOMAC at all visits. We examined the cross-sectional association between knee symptoms and three MRI-based and three serum markers of synovitis and matrix turnover, respectively. A total of 447 participants were included in the serum and 136 participants in the MRI analyses. MRI-defined medial perimeniscal synovitis was positively associated with knee pain and, suprapatellar and medial perimeniscal synovitis with knee function in multivariate analysis. We observed a statistically significant, negative association between a higher concentration of serum C3M and CRPM and knee pain, respectively. Furthermore, the highest CRPM quartile was negatively associated with knee function. Our findings suggest that, in established painful radiographic KOA, MRI-defined medial perimeniscal and suprapatellar synovitis were positively associated with knee symptoms. Serum-based C3M and CRPM markers were negatively associated with knee symptoms. Pain fluctuations are common in KOA and a better understanding of the relationship between markers of synovitis and matrix turnover and knee symptoms would facilitate a more accurate assessment of temporal changes in disease progression.
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