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Assessment of synovial fluid and serum cytokine levels in children with septic arthritis
  1. Walter Dehority1,
  2. Scott Plaster2,
  3. Kathryn C Helmig2,
  4. Nathan Huff2,
  5. Andrew Parsons2,
  6. Susan L Tigert3,
  7. Selina Silva2
  1. 1 Pediatrics, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
  2. 2 Orthopedics, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
  3. 3 CTSC, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Walter Dehority, Pediatrics, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001, USA; WDehority{at}


Acute septic arthritis (ASA) is a common orthopedic infection of children which may produce devastating sequelae and chronic morbidity. Improved understanding of the intra-articular inflammatory response in ASA may identify cytokine targets with diagnostic or therapeutic potential, though no detailed investigations to this end have been performed. Given this, we used a multiplex cytokine assay for assessment of levels of 40 different cytokines in the synovial fluid and blood of children with ASA. Twelve children (8 controls undergoing orthopedic surgery for non-infectious conditions and 4 with ASA) were prospectively enrolled. Blood and synovial fluid were collected intraoperatively from each subject, and the levels of 40 cytokines were determined using a multiplex assay. Cytokines were organized by function and structure into 12 groups for analysis. The Benjamini-Hochberg method was used to control for type 1 errors, with an a priori false discovery rate of 10%. Subjects with ASA were younger than controls (mean age 8.0 vs 13.1 years, p=0.0400). Significant elevations were seen in interleukins (IL) with chemokine properties, IL-6 and those in the common-γ chain group in the blood and synovial fluid of children with ASA compared with controls, while significant elevations in 5 additional cytokine groups were seen in synovial fluid from children with ASA compared with controls, most notably IL-6 (median 8294.3 vs 10.7 pg/mL, p=0.0066). Our pilot study is the first to describe in detail the cytokine response in children with ASA, and highlights the need for additional study.

  • cytokines
  • inflammation

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  • Contributors All authors were involved in the conduct of the study and the creation of all drafts of the manuscript. ST was also involved in laboratory analyses, WD in data analysis, and SS, SP, KCH, NH and AP in specimen collection and consent.

  • Funding This study was funded by an institutional Signature Program in Child Health grant.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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