Introduction. Synovitis-acne-pustulosis-hyperostosis-osteitis (SAPHO) syndrome is a rare disorder. The etiology remains unknown and the treatment is still empirical. Synovitis is one of the major manifestations, but information on histopathological features is still lacking. In this case, we investigated the histopathological features of SAPHO syndrome synovitis. Case presentation. We present the case of a 53-year-old Japanese woman with SAPHO syndrome accompanied by marked knee synovitis and palmoplantar pustulosis. We found abundant sterile joint fluid in the right knee, and a blood test showed abnormally high values of C-reactive protein (17.26 mg/dl) and matrix metalloproteinase-3 (800 ng/ml). Arthroscopic surgery revealed marked proliferation of villous synovial tissues similar to rheumatoid arthritis and standard microscopic findings were also similar to rheumatoid arthritis. Furthermore, for the first time, we demonstrated by immunohistochemistry the expression of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-) converting enzyme, TNF-and matrix metalloproteinase-3 in the proliferated synovial lining cells. After arthroscopic synovectomy, her knee symptoms immediately diminished and laboratory data (matrix metalloproteinase-3 and C-reactive protein) normalized within 2 weeks of surgery. Conclusion. We demonstrate the expression of TNF-converting enzyme, TNF-and matrix metalloproteinase-3 in SAPHO syndrome synovitis for the first time and also show, both macro-and microscopically, the similarity between SAPHO syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis synovitis. These new findings support the recently reported successful treatment of SAPHO syndrome with antirheumatic drugs, especially with anti-TNF-agents.
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