Inferior synovial lubrication is a hallmark of osteoarthritis (OA), and synovial fluid (SF) lubrication and composition are variable among OA patients. Hyaluronic acid (HA) viscosupplementation is a widely used therapy for improving SF viscoelasticity and lubrication, but it is unclear how the effectiveness of HA viscosupplements varies with arthritic endotype. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of the HA viscosupplement, Hymovis®, on the lubricating properties of diseased SF from patients with non-inflammatory OA and inflammatory arthritis (IA). The composition (cytokine, HA, and lubricin concentrations) of the SF was measured as well as the mechanical properties (rheology, tribology) of the SF alone and in a 1:1 mixture with the HA viscosupplement. Using rotational rheometry, no difference in SF viscosity was detected between disease types, and the addition of HA significantly increased all fluids' viscosities. In non-inflammatory OA SF, friction coefficients followed a typical Stribeck pattern and their magnitude was decreased by the addition of HA. While some of the IA SF also showed typical Stribeck behavior, a subset showed more erratic behavior with highly variable and larger friction coefficients. Interestingly, this aberrant behavior was not eliminated by the addition of HA, and it was associated with low concentrations of lubricin. Aberrant SF exhibited significantly lower effective viscosities compared to non-inflammatory OA and IA SF with typical tribological behavior. Collectively, these results suggest that different endotypes of arthritis exist with respect to lubrication, which may impact the effectiveness of HA viscosupplements in reducing friction.

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