- OBJECTIVE: Osteoarthritis (OA) is a major source of knee pain. Mechanisms of OA knee pain are incompletely understood but include synovial pathology. We aimed to identify molecular expression patterns in the synovium associated with symptomatic knee OA. DESIGN: Snap frozen synovia were from people undergoing total knee replacement (TKR) for advanced OA, or from post-mortem (PM) cases who had not sought help for knee pain. Associations with OA symptoms were determined using discovery and validation samples, each comprising TKR and post mortem (PM) cases matched for chondropathy (Symptomatic or Asymptomatic Chondropathy). Associations with OA were determined by comparing age matched TKR and PM control cases. Real-time quantitative PCR for 96 genes involved in inflammation and nerve sensitisation used TaqMan((R)) Array Cards in discovery and validation samples, and protein expression for replicated genes was quantified using Luminex bead assay. RESULTS: Eight genes were differentially expressed between asymptomatic and symptomatic chondropathy cases and replicated between discovery and validation samples (P<0.05 or >3-fold change). Of these, matrix metalloprotease (MMP)-1 was also increased whereas interleukin-1 receptor 1 (IL1R1) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) were decreased at the protein level in the synovium of symptomatic compared to asymptomatic chondropathy cases. MMP1 protein expression was also increased in OA compared to PM controls. CONCLUSION: Associations of symptomatic OA may suggest roles of MMP1 expression and IL1R1 and VEGF pathways in OA pain. Better understanding of which inflammation-associated molecules mediate OA pain should inform refinement of existing therapies and development of new treatments.