Infrapatellar Fat Pad Gene Expression and Protein Production in Patients with and without Osteoarthritis

Elisa Belluzzi, Veronica Macchi, Chiara Giulia Fontanella, Emanuele Luigi Carniel, Eleonora Olivotto, Giuseppe Filardo, Gloria Sarasin, Andrea Porzionato, Marnie Granzotto, Assunta Pozzuoli, Antonio Berizzi, Manuela Scioni, Raffaele De Caro, Pietro Ruggieri, Roberto Vettor, Roberta Ramonda, Marco Rossato, Marta Favero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most common joint disorders. Evidence suggests that the infrapatellar fat pad (IFP) is directly involved in OA pathology. However, a comparison between OA versus non-OA IFP is still missing. Thus, the aim of this study was to compare IFP molecular, adipocytes and extracellular matrix characteristics of patients affected by OA, and patients undergoing anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction. We hypothesized that not only inflammation but also changes in adipocytes and extracellular matrix (ECM) composition might be involved in OA pathogenesis. Fifty-three patients were enrolled. IFP biopsies were obtained, evaluating: (a) lymphocytic infiltration and vascularization; (b) adipocytes area and number; (c) adipo-cytokines and extracellular matrix gene expression levels; (d) IL-6 and VEGF protein production; (e) collagen fibers distribution. OA IFP was more inflamed and vascularized compared to ACL IFP. OA IFP adipocytes were larger and numerically lower (1.3-fold) than ACL IFP adipocytes. An increase of gene expression of typical white adipose tissue genes was observed in OA compared to ACL IFP. Collagen-types distribution was different in the OA IFP group compared to controls, possibly explaining the change of the biomechanical characteristics found in OA IFP. Statistical linear models revealed that the adipocyte area correlated with BMI in the OA group. In conclusion, inflammation and fibrotic changes of OA IFP could represent novel therapeutic targets to counteract OA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - Aug 21 2020


  • adipocyte
  • anterior cruciate ligament
  • inflammation
  • infrapatellar fat pad
  • osteoarthritis


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