, Volume 4, Issue 6, pp 500-506

Advances in the understanding of entheseal inflammation

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Abstract

The importance of enthesitis in the pathogenesis of spondyloarthropathy (SpA) is now well recognized. Several entheses comprise more than simply the insertion site, and they are part of a complex biomechanical organ to resist shear and compression. It is also evident that tendons that wrap around bony pulleys form an integral part of joint capsules, and share, along with imaging abnormalities and histopathologic changes, common anatomic, histologic, and biomechanical features with classically defined entheses. Researchers have called these regions of tendons functional entheses. Furthermore, certain synovial joints have much in common with classic entheses—most notably those lined with fibrocartilage rather than hyaline cartilage. These observations provide a unifying anatomic basis for SpA. Enthesitis is associated with underlying osteitis, whether mechanically induced or inflammatory-related—with the extent of osteitis determined by the human leukocyte antigen-B27 gene. Until recently, there was no effective therapy for resistant enthesitis, but it is now evident that enthesitis responds well to biologic blockade with anti-tumor necrosis factor. Unraveling the pathogenic basis of enthesitis will have important implications for understanding and defining therapies in SpA.