1. We have determined the antioxidant status of synovial fluid and serum of patients with inflammatory joint disease in terms of the biologically active lipid-soluble antioxidant, α-tocopherol. Synovial fluid concentrations of α-tocopherol were significantly lower relative to those of paired serum samples (P<0.001). Serum levels of α-tocopherol in these patients did not differ significantly from those in control serum.

2. Lower concentrations of cholesterol, triacylglycerol and low-density lipoprotein were also observed in patients' synovial fluid compared with matched serum samples. However, multiple regression analysis of the data indicated that there remained a significant depletion of α-tocopherol, which was largely independent of these co-variables, in inflammatory synovial fluid. These findings are consistent with the consumption of α-tocopherol within the inflamed joint via its role in terminating the process of lipid peroxidation.

3. Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopic analysis of matched inflammatory synovial fluid and serum confirmed lower concentrations of triacylglycerol in synovial fluid together with evidence of a shortened mean triacylglycerol chain length. The latter metabolic difference suggests an increased utilization of triacylglycerols for energy within the inflamed joint.

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