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Assistant Professor
Section of Rheumatology,
Departments of Internal Medicine, Biochemistry and Immunology/Microbiology
Biochemistry, Immunology-Microbiology, Internal Medicine
GME, Graduate College, Rush Medical College
1735 W. Harrison St.
Cohn Research Building
Rm. 520
Chicago, IL 60612
1735 W. Harrison St.
Cohn Research Building
Rm. 541
Chicago, IL 60612
(312) 942-0719
(312) 563-2267
Musculoskeletal Diseases
Cytokine Assessment, Immunohisto-/immunocytochemistry, PCR, Real-time PCR

Research Interest
Major Academic Community Activities
   Editorial Boards
   Invited Lectures
Research Trainees
Document Links/Web Links or Videos

Carla Scanzello, MD, PhD, is an assistant professor of medicine in the Section of Rheumatology at Rush University Medical Center, with conjoint appointments in the departments of Immunology/Microbiology and Biochemistry. Scanzello received her medical and graduate degrees from Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, Penn. She completed her residency training in internal medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital / Weill Cornell Medical Center and her fellowship in rheumatology at the Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, N.Y. Scanzello serves as attending physician at Rush University Medical Center and at the John H. Stroger, Jr., Hospital of Cook County, where she treats patients with a variety of rheumatologic problems, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, polymyalgia rheumatica, Sjogren’s syndrome, myositis, lupus and vasculitis.

Research Interest

Scanzello's research is aimed at understanding the molecular stimuli and clinical consequences of the synovial inflammatory reaction in the setting of early-stage osteoarthritis (OA) and joint injury. Once considered primarily a degenerative cartilage condition, we now understand that the entire joint (including bone, synovium, menisci and periarticular soft tissues) is altered in OA. Perhaps the least understood pathologic change that occurs in the OA joint is the inflammatory reaction within the synovial membrane (SM). This inflammation can be a source pain, and may stimulate progression of joint degeneration in certain patients. We recently demonstrated that the cytokines such as interleukin-15 (IL-15) and chemokines such as IL-8 and CCL-19 are detectable in the joints of most patients with early-stage knee OA seeking surgical intervention for degenerative or traumatic meniscal tears. These mediators are known to be produced following activation of the innate immune system via the toll-like receptors (TLRs), implicating their activity in OA and joint injury. IL-15, IL-8 and CCL-19 have functions that may impact OA pathogenesism, including recruitment of chronic synovial inflammatory infiltrates and induction of enzymatic mediators of cartilage extracellular matrix turnover. Therefore, the laboratory is interested in:

  1. Understanding how TLR pathway activation occurs in the joint in the setting of meniscal injury and early OA. Specifically, we are studying how soluble mediators in synovial fluid can modulate TLR activity in fibroblast-like synoviocytes and other cells within the joint
  2. Understanding how downstream mediators of TLR activity (IL-15, IL-8, etc) contribute to the synovial response and cartilage degradation characteristic of OA
  3. Defining whether synovial inflammation can predict post-surgical outcomes and clinical variables in the meniscectomy population at risk for development of OA. This is being done in a collaborative longitudinal pilot study for which we have developed a synovitis scoring system  

We hope that these investigations lead to better understanding of the stimulating factors and consequences of innate immune system activity in early OA, and ultimately to development of novel therapeutics to interfere with this pathway. As we currently have no interventions for OA that impact disease progression, defining pathways important in early-stage disease is essential.


RUMC Investigators:

  1. Alison Finnegan, PhD: Section of Rheumatology, RUMC. - Finnegan is Scanzello’s faculty mentor for her current K08 award from NIAMS. Finnegan is a collaborator on Scanzello’s studies of CD14 in synovial fluid, and its role in modulating TLR cellular responses. Her continued collaboration is essential to extend findings from current in vitro work with human tissues, to investigate in vivo mechanisms involving innate immunity in murine models in the future.
  2. Charles Bush-Joseph, MD, and Nikhil Verma, MD: Dept. of Orthopedic Surgery, RUMC. - Bush-Joseph and Verma are Scanzello’s clinical collaborators for the Knee Injury and Arthritis Repository. They recruit patients, collect clinical data and biological specimens and perform intra-operative assessment of joint tissue integrity for this repository study. The repository is an important resource for biomarker studies and in-vitro studies being pursued in the laboratory.
  3. Katalin Mikecz, MD, PhD, and Tibor Glant, MD, PhD: Dept. of Orthopedic Surgery, RUMC. - Mikecz and Glant are collaborators on Scanzello’s current studies on CD14’s influence on synovial fibroblasts. Glant is a co-mentor for Scanzello’s current K08 award, and has provided expertise in synovial cell culture techniques. Mikecz provides expertise in advanced imaging techniques. Scanzello is a collaborator on Mikecz’s current R21 award.
  4. Greg T. Spear, PhD: Dept. of Immunology and Microbiology, RUMC. - Spear is a collaborator on Scanzello’s current studies on soluble CD14, and has provided cell lines and expertise in evaluation of toll-like receptor activity.
  5. Anne-Marie Malfait, MD, PhD: Department of Biochemistry, RUMC. - Malfait is collaborating with Scanzello on her current studies of CD14. She has important expertise in an accepted animal model of osteoarthritis that is initiated by meniscal injury. This model compliments Dr. Scanzello’s interest in the population of patients with meniscal injury.
  6. Susanna Chubinskaya, PhD: Department of Biochemistry, RUMC. - Chubinskaya is a collaborator on Scanzello’s work on CD14, and is also collaborating on studies investigating IL-15 significance in joint biology.
  7. Najia Shakoor, MD: Section of Rheumatology, RUMC. -Shakoor is a collaborator on Scanzello's repository study, providing expertise in radiologic assessment of OA.
  8. Yejia Zhang, MD: Departments of Rehabilitation Medicine and Orthopedic Surgery, RUMC. - Scanzello and Zhang have co-authored two abstracts, and are preparing two manuscripts describing their work on fibronectin.  

National and International Collaborations:

  1. Brian McKeon, MD: Dept of Orthopedics, New England Baptist Medical Center, Boston, Mass.. - McKeon is the principle investigator for a longitudinal pilot study to investigate the impact of synovial inflammation on post-surgical outcomes in patients undergoing arthroscopic partial meniscectomy. As a co-investigator on this study, Scanzello has developed a semi-quantitative assessment system for classification of synovitis in these patients.
  2. Steven R. Goldring, MD: Chief Scientific Officer, Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, N.Y. - Goldring was one of Scanzello’s fellowship research mentors. He continues to collaborate with Scanzello and McKeon on the longitudinal pilot study ongoing at New England Baptist Hospital.
  3. Mary K. Crow, MD: Physician-in-Chief, Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, N.Y. - Crow was Scanzello’s principal fellowship research mentor. She continues to collaborate with Scanzello on a study of synovial transcriptional patterns in osteoarthritis.
  4. Frank Pessler, MD: Department of Rheumatology/Immunology, Klinik und Poliklinik für Kinder- und Jugendmedizin, Dresden, Germany. - Pessler is a collaborator of Scanzello’s, having co-authored a number of manuscripts. He has expertise in the evaluation of synovial histopathology that complements Dr. Scanzello’s research efforts.
  5. William H. Robinson, MD PhD: Division of Immunology and Rheumatology, Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, Calif. - Scanzello collaborated with Robinson on a recent study from his lab describing a role for complement proteins in osteoarthritis pathogenesis. Scanzello provided evidence from her gene transcription studies in humans that supported his observations in an animal model of osteoarthritis. This was recently published in Nature Medicine.  

Major Academic Community Activities

Editorial Boards

Arthritis & Rheumatism, Advisory Editor


Rush Research Mentoring Program Steering Committee
Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI)
OARSI Research and Training Committee

Invited Lectures

Orthopedics Research Society Meeting, San Francisco, Calif.
Feb 2012
“Novel Assessments of Inflammation in Joint Tissues and Synovial Fluid”
Workshop sponsored by ORS and OARSI
Invited Panelist “Experts In Arthritis” A Public Seminar for People with Arthritis
Nov 2011
Sponsors: US bone and Joint Initiative and Arthritis Foundation, Chicago, Ill.
Arthritis Foundation Segal North American Osteoarthritis Workshop (SNOW)
March 2011
Chicago, Ill.
“Identifying targets for therapy in Osteoarthritis: the synovium”
American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting, Atlanta, Ga.
Nov 2010
“Synovial Inflammation in patients with post-traumatic OA”
Osteoarthritis Study Group
European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) Congress, Rome, Italy
June 2010
“Role of Synovium in Osteoarthritis.”
Annual Midwest Connective Tissue Workshop, Chicago, Ill.
May 2010
“Synovial inflammation in patients undergoing meniscectomy.”
Arthritis Foundation Segal North American Osteoarthritis Workshop (SNOW)
Oct 2009
Chicago, Ill.
“Synovial Inflammation in Osteoarthritis and Acute Meniscal Injury”
Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) Annual Meeting
Sept 2009
Montreal, Canada.
“Innate immune system activation in Osteoarthritis: Is OA a chronic wound?”
European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) Congress,
June 2009
Copenhagen, Denmark
“Evidence for Inflammation in Osteoarthritis” 

Publications (selected from 18 peer-reviewed publications)

  1. Nair A, Kanda V, Bush-Joseph C, Verma N, Chubinskaya S, Mikecz K, Glant TT, Malfait A-M, Crow MK, Spear GT, Finnegan A, Scanzello CR. Synovial fluid from patients with early osteoarthritis modulates fibroblast-like synoviocyte responses to TLR-4 and TLR-2 ligands via soluble CD14. Arthritis & Rheumatism, Accepted 2012.
  2. Wang Q, Rozelle AL, Lepus CM, Scanzello CR, Song JJ, Larsen DM, Crish JF, Bebek G, Ritter SY, Lindstrom TM, Hwang I, Wong HH, Punzi L, Encarnacion A, Shamloo M, Goodman SB, Wyss-Coray T, Goldring SR, Banda NK, Thurman JM, Gobezie R, Crow MK, Holers VM, Lee DM, Robinson WH. Identification of a central role for complement in osteoarthritis. Nat Med. 2011 Nov 6;17(12):1674-9. doi: 10.1038/nm.2543.[PMID: 22057346]
  3. Scanzello CR, McKeon B, Swaim BH, DiCarlo E, Asomugha EU, Kanda V, Nair A, Lee DM, Richmond JC, Katz JN, Crow MK, Goldring SR. Synovial inflammation in patients undergoing arthroscopic meniscectomy: molecular characterization and relationship to symptoms. Arthritis Rheum. 2011 Feb;63(2):391-400. doi: 10.1002/art.30137. [PMID: 21279996]
  4. Scanzello CR, Umoh E, Pessler F, Diaz-Torne C, Miles T, Dicarlo E, Potter HG, Mandl L, Marx R, Rodeo S, Goldring SR, Crow MK. Local cytokine profiles in knee osteoarthritis: elevated synovial fluid interleukin-15 differentiates early from end-stage disease. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2009 Aug;17(8):1040-8. Epub 2009 Mar 6. [PMID: 19289234]
  5. Pessler F, Dai L, Diaz-Torne C, Gomez-Vaquero C, Paessler ME, Zheng DH, Einhorn E, Range U, Scanzello C, Schumacher HR. The synovitis of "non-inflammatory" orthopaedic arthropathies: a quantitative histological and immunohistochemical analysis. Ann Rheum Dis. 2008 Aug;67(8):1184-7. Epub 2008 Jan 18. [PMID: 18203762]


1.  “The Toll-like Receptor Pathway in Meniscal Injury and Osteoarthritis” 7/2010–6/2015
PI: Scanzello
Sponsor: National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
2.  “Myeloid-derived suppressor cells in autoimmune arthritis.” 10/2011– 9/2013
Collaborator (PI: K. Mikecz)
Sponsor: National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Research Trainees

Rheumatology Fellows

Justin Gan, MD; RUMC clinical rheumatology fellow 2011-present

Indira Hadley, MD; RUMC clinical rheumatology fellow 2009-2011

Saulat Mushtaq, MD; RUMC clinical rheumatology fellow 2008-2010

Graduate Students

Anjali Nair, BA, Research Mentor, Master's in clinical research 2011-present

Susan Ashaye, Department of Microbiology and Immunology 2011 - present
  Dissertation Committee Member

Medical Students & Residents

John Francis, MS3; Current RUMC medical student 2010-2011
  Recipient of Dean's Fellowship for Summer Research

Swapna Rao, MD; RUMC internal medicine resident 2009

Eva Umoh (Asomugha), MS3 Weill-Cornell Medical College 2007-2008

Troy Miles, MS3 Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York 2007
  New York Chapter Arthritis Foundation Summer Student Fellowship Award

Document Links/Web Links or Videos

Interviewed for “Arthritis Today”, Arthritis Foundation patient publication
"OA Affects Big Joints More in African-Americans"
Oct. 2011
Rush University Medical Center on YouTube
"Clinical Trials at Rush University Medical Center"
View Short Profile

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