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1.  Does protein kinase R mediate TNF-α- and ceramide-induced increases in expression and activation of matrix metalloproteinases in articular cartilage by a novel mechanism? 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2003;6(1):R46-R55.
We investigated the role of the proinflammatory cytokine TNF-α, the second messenger C2-ceramide, and protein kinase R (PKR) in bovine articular cartilage degradation. Bovine articular cartilage explants were stimulated with C2-ceramide or TNF-α for 24 hours. To inhibit the activation of PKR, 2-aminopurine was added to duplicate cultures. Matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) expression and activation in the medium were analysed by gelatin zymography, proteoglycan release by the dimethylmethylene blue assay, and cell viability by the Cytotox 96® assay. C2-ceramide treatment of cartilage explants resulted in a significant release of both pro- and active MMP-2 into the medium. Small increases were also seen with TNF-α treatment. Incubation of explants with 2-aminopurine before TNF-α or C2-ceramide treatment resulted in a marked reduction in expression and activation of both MMP-2 and MMP-9. TNF-α and C2-ceramide significantly increased proteoglycan release into the medium, which was also inhibited by cotreatment with 2-aminopurine. A loss of cell viability was observed when explants were treated with TNF-α and C2-ceramide, which was found to be regulated by PKR. We have shown that C2-ceramide and TNF-α treatment of articular cartilage result in the increased synthesis and activation of MMPs, increased release of proteoglycan, and increased cell death. These effects are abrogated by treatment with the PKR inhibitor 2-aminopurine. Collectively, these results suggest a novel role for PKR in the synthesis and activation of MMPs and support our hypothesis that PKR and its activator, PACT, are implicated in the cartilage degradation that occurs in arthritic disease.
PMCID: PMC400415  PMID: 14979937
articular cartilage; ceramide; matrix metalloproteinase; PKR; TNF-α
2.  The Effect of Dexamethasone and Triiodothyronine on Terminal Differentiation of Primary Bovine Chondrocytes and Chondrogenically Differentiated Mesenchymal Stem Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72973.
The newly evolved field of regenerative medicine is offering solutions in the treatment of bone or cartilage loss and deficiency. Mesenchymal stem cells, as well as articular chondrocytes, are potential cells for the generation of bone or cartilage. The natural mechanism of bone formation is that of endochondral ossification, regulated, among other factors, through the hormones dexamethasone and triiodothyronine. We investigated the effects of these hormones on articular chondrocytes and chondrogenically differentiated mesenchymal stem cells, hypothesizing that these hormones would induce terminal differentiation, with chondrocytes and differentiated stem cells being similar in their response. Using a 3D-alginate cell culture model, bovine chondrocytes and chondrogenically differentiated stem cells were cultured in presence of triiodothyronine or dexamethasone, and cell proliferation and extracellular matrix production were investigated. Collagen mRNA expression was measured by real-time PCR. Col X mRNA and alkaline phosphatase were monitored as markers of terminal differentiation, a prerequisite of endochondral ossification. The alginate culture system worked well, both for the culture of chondrocytes and for the chondrogenic differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells. Dexamethasone led to an increase in glycosaminoglycan production. Triiodothyronine increased the total collagen production only in chondrocytes, where it also induced signs of terminal differentiation, increasing both collagen X mRNA and alkaline phosphatase activity. Dexamethasone induced terminal differentiation in the differentiated stem cells. The immature articular chondrocytes used in this study seem to be able to undergo terminal differentiation, pointing to their possible role in the onset of degenerative osteoarthritis, as well as their potential for a cell source in bone tissue engineering. When chondrocyte-like cells, after their differentiation, can indeed be moved on towards terminal differentiation, they can be used to generate a model of endochondral ossification, but this limitation must be kept in mind when using them in cartilage tissue engineering application.
PMCID: PMC3745539  PMID: 23977373
3.  Chondrogenic differentiation potential of osteoarthritic chondrocytes and their possible use in matrix-associated autologous chondrocyte transplantation 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2009;11(5):R133.
Autologous chondrocyte transplantation (ACT) is a routine technique to regenerate focal cartilage lesions. However, patients with osteoarthritis (OA) are lacking an appropriate long-lasting treatment alternative, partly since it is not known if chondrocytes from OA patients have the same chondrogenic differentiation potential as chondrocytes from donors not affected by OA.
Articular chondrocytes from patients with OA undergoing total knee replacement (Mankin Score > 3, Ahlbäck Score > 2) and from patients undergoing ACT, here referred to as normal donors (ND), were isolated applying protocols used for ACT. Their chondrogenic differentiation potential was evaluated both in high-density pellet and scaffold (Hyaff-11) cultures by histological proteoglycan assessment (Bern Score) and immunohistochemistry for collagen types I and II. Chondrocytes cultured in monolayer and scaffolds were subjected to gene expression profiling using genome-wide oligonucleotide microarrays. Expression data were verified by using real-time PCR.
Chondrocytes from ND and OA donors demonstrated accumulation of comparable amounts of cartilage matrix components, including sulphated proteoglycans and collagen types I and II. The mRNA expression of cartilage markers (ACAN, COL2A1, COMP, CRTL1, SOX9) and genes involved in matrix synthesis (BGN, CILP2, COL9A2, COL11A1, TIMP4) was highly induced in 3D cultures of chondrocytes from both donor groups. Genes associated with hypertrophic or OA cartilage (ALPL, COL1A1, COL3A1, COL10A1, MMP13, POSTN, PTH1R, RUNX2) were not significantly regulated between the two groups of donors. The expression of 661 genes, including COMP, FN1, and SOX9, was differentially regulated between OA and ND chondrocytes cultured in monolayer. During scaffold culture, the differences diminished between the OA and ND chondrocytes, and only 184 genes were differentially regulated.
Only few genes were differentially expressed between OA and ND chondrocytes in Hyaff-11 culture. The risk of differentiation into hypertrophic cartilage does not seem to be increased for OA chondrocytes. Our findings suggest that the chondrogenic capacity is not significantly affected by OA, and OA chondrocytes fulfill the requirements for matrix-associated ACT.
PMCID: PMC2787268  PMID: 19723327
4.  Fibrin and poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) hybrid scaffold promotes early chondrogenesis of articular chondrocytes: an in vitro study 
Synthetic- and naturally derived- biodegradable polymers have been widely used to construct scaffolds for cartilage tissue engineering. Poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) are bioresorbable and biocompatible, rendering them as a promising tool for clinical application. To minimize cells lost during the seeding procedure, we used the natural polymer fibrin to immobilize cells and to provide homogenous cells distribution in PLGA scaffolds. We evaluated in vitro chondrogenesis of rabbit articular chondrocytes in PLGA scaffolds using fibrin as cell transplantation matrix.
PLGA scaffolds were soaked in chondrocytes-fibrin suspension (1 × 106cells/scaffold) and polymerized by dropping thrombin-calcium chloride (CaCl2) solution. PLGA-seeded chondrocytes was used as control. All constructs were cultured for a maximum of 21 days. Cell proliferation activity was measured at 1, 3, 7, 14 and 21 days in vitro using 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazole-2-yl)-2-, 5-diphenyltetrazolium-bromide (MTT) assay. Morphological observation, histology, immunohistochemistry (IHC), gene expression and sulphated-glycosaminoglycan (sGAG) analyses were performed at each time point of 1, 2 and 3 weeks to elucidate in vitro cartilage development and deposition of cartilage-specific extracellular matrix (ECM).
Cell proliferation activity was gradually increased from day-1 until day-14 and declined by day-21. A significant cartilaginous tissue formation was detected as early as 2-week in fibrin/PLGA hybrid construct as confirmed by the presence of cartilage-isolated cells and lacunae embedded within basophilic ECM. Cartilage formation was remarkably evidenced after 3 weeks. Presence of cartilage-specific proteoglycan and glycosaminoglycan (GAG) in fibrin/PLGA hybrid constructs were confirmed by positive Safranin O and Alcian Blue staining. Collagen type II exhibited intense immunopositivity at the pericellular matrix. Chondrogenic properties were further demonstrated by the expression of genes encoded for cartilage-specific markers, collagen type II and aggrecan core protein. Interestingly, suppression of cartilage dedifferentiation marker; collagen type I was observed after 2 and 3 weeks of in vitro culture. The sulphated-glycosaminoglycan (sGAG) production in fibrin/PLGA was significantly higher than in PLGA.
Fibrin/PLGA promotes early in vitro chondrogenesis of rabbit articular chondrocytes. This study suggests that fibrin/PLGA may serve as a potential cell delivery vehicle and a structural basis for in vitro tissue-engineered articular cartilage.
PMCID: PMC2405772  PMID: 18435862
5.  Hypoxia promotes redifferentiation and suppresses markers of hypertrophy and degeneration in both healthy and osteoarthritic chondrocytes 
Hypoxia is considered to be a positive influence on the healthy chondrocyte phenotype and cartilage matrix formation. However, hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) have been implicated in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis (OA). Thus, we assessed whether healthy and OA chondrocytes have distinct responses to oxygen, particularly with regard to hypertrophy and degradation during redifferentiation.
Monolayer-expanded healthy and OA chondrocytes were redifferentiated for 14 days in pellet cultures under standard (20% oxygen) or hypoxic (2% oxygen) conditions. Cartilage matrix gene expression, matrix quality and quantity, degradative enzyme expression and HIF expression were measured.
In hypoxia, both healthy and OA chondrocytes had higher human collagen type II, α1 gene (COL2A1), and aggrecan (ACAN) expression and sulfated glycosaminoglycan (sGAG) accumulation, concomitant with lower human collagen type X, α1 gene (COL10A1), and human collagen type I, α1 gene (COL1A1), expression and collagen I extracellular accumulation. OA chondrocytes had significantly lower sGAGs/DNA than healthy chondrocytes, but only in high oxygen conditions. Hypoxia also caused significantly greater sGAG retention and hyaluronic acid synthase 2 (HAS2) expression by OA chondrocytes. Both healthy and OA chondrocytes had significantly lower expression of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) MMP1, MMP2, MMP3 and MMP13 in hypoxia and less active MMP2 enzyme, consistent with lower MMP14 expression. However, aggrecanase (ADAMTS4 and ADAMTS5) expression was significantly lowered by hypoxia only in healthy cells, and COL10A1 and MMP13 remained significantly higher in OA chondrocytes than in healthy chondrocytes in hypoxic conditions. HIF-1α and HIF-2α had similar expression profiles in healthy and OA cells, increasing to maximal levels early in hypoxia and decreasing over time.
Hypoxic culture of human chondrocytes has long been acknowledged to result in increased matrix accumulation, but still little is known of its effects on catabolism. We show herein that the increased expression of matrix proteins, combined with decreased expression of numerous degradative enzymes by hypoxia, minimizes but does not abolish differences between redifferentiated healthy and OA chondrocytes. Hypoxia-induced HIF expression is associated with hypertrophic marker and degradative enzyme downregulation and increased measures of redifferentiation in both healthy and OA chondrocytes. Therefore, though HIFs may be involved in the pathogenesis of OA, conditions that promote HIF expression in vitro promote matrix accumulation and decrease degradation and hypertrophy, even in cells from OA joints.
PMCID: PMC3979022  PMID: 23965235
6.  Culture Expansion in Low-Glucose Conditions Preserves Chondrocyte Differentiation and Enhances Their Subsequent Capacity to Form Cartilage Tissue in Three-Dimensional Culture 
BioResearch Open Access  2014;3(1):9-18.
Culture conditions that preserve a stable chondrocyte phenotype are desirable in cell-based cartilage repair to maximize efficacy and clinical outcome. This study investigates whether low-glucose conditions will preserve the chondrocyte phenotype during culture expansion. Articular chondrocytes were culture-expanded in media supplemented with either low (1 mM) or high (10 mM) glucose. The metabolic phenotype, reactive oxygen species generation, and mRNA expression of markers of differentiation or catabolism were assessed by reverse-transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction after four population doublings (PDs) and subsequent tissue formation capacity determined using pellet cultures. Continuous monolayer culture was used to determine the population doubling limit. After expansion in monolayer for four PDs, chondrocytes expanded in low-glucose conditions exhibited higher expression of the differentiation markers SOX9 and COL2A1 and reduced expression of the catabolic metalloproteinase matrix metallopeptidase 13. When chondrocytes expanded in low glucose were cultured in micropellets, they consistently generated more cartilaginous extracellular matrix than those expanded in high glucose, as evaluated by wet weight, sulfated glycosaminoglycan content, and hydroxyproline assay for collagen content. The same pattern was observed whether high or low glucose was used during the pellet culture. During expansion, chondrocytes in high-glucose generated 50% more reactive oxygen species than low-glucose conditions, despite a lower dependence on oxidative phosphorylation for energy. Furthermore low-glucose cells exhibited >30% increased population doubling limit. These data suggests that low-glucose expansion conditions better preserve the expression of differentiation markers by chondrocytes and enhance their subsequent capacity to form cartilage in vitro. Therefore, low glucose levels should be considered for the expansion of chondrocytes intended for tissue engineering applications.
PMCID: PMC3929268  PMID: 24570841
chondrocyte; Crabtree effect; differentiation markers; glucose concentration; monolayer expansion potential; regenerative potential; tissue engineering
7.  Differential gene expression associated with postnatal equine articular cartilage maturation 
Articular cartilage undergoes an important maturation process from neonate to adult that is reflected by alterations in matrix protein organization and increased heterogeneity of chondrocyte morphology. In the horse, these changes are influenced by exercise during the first five months of postnatal life. Transcriptional profiling was used to evaluate changes in articular chondrocyte gene expression during postnatal growth and development.
Total RNA was isolated from the articular cartilage of neonatal (0–10 days) and adult (4–5 years) horses, subjected to one round of linear RNA amplification, and then applied to a 9,367-element equine-specific cDNA microarray. Comparisons were made with a dye-swap experimental design. Microarray results for selected genes (COL2A1, COMP, P4HA1, TGFB1, TGFBR3, TNC) were validated by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR).
Fifty-six probe sets, which represent 45 gene products, were up-regulated (p < 0.01) in chondrocytes of neonatal articular cartilage relative to chondrocytes of adult articular cartilage. Conversely, 586 probe sets, which represent 499 gene products, were up-regulated (p < 0.01) in chondrocytes of adult articular cartilage relative to chondrocytes of neonatal articular cartilage. Collagens, matrix-modifying enzymes, and provisional matrix non-collagenous proteins were expressed at higher levels in the articular cartilage of newborn foals. Those genes with increased mRNA abundance in adult chondrocytes included leucine-rich small proteoglycans, matrix assembly, and cartilage maintenance proteins.
Differential expression of genes encoding matrix proteins and matrix-modifying enzymes between neonates and adults reflect a cellular maturation process in articular chondrocytes. Up-regulated transcripts in neonatal cartilage are consistent with growth and expansion of the articular surface. Expression patterns in mature articular cartilage indicate a transition from growth to homeostasis, and tissue function related to withstanding shear and weight-bearing stresses.
PMCID: PMC2585085  PMID: 18986532
8.  Chondrocyte source for cartilage regeneration in an immature animal: Is iliac apophysis a good alternative? 
Indian Journal of Orthopaedics  2012;46(4):402-406.
Autologous articular cartilage at present forms the main source of chondrocytes for cartilage tissue engineering. In children, iliac apophysis is a rich and readily accessible source of chondrocytes. This study compares the growth characteristics and phenotype maintenance of goat iliac apophysis growth plate chondrocytes with those sourced from goat articular cartilage, and thereby assesses their suitability for autologous chondrocyte transplantation in immature animals for growth plate and articular cartilage regeneration.
Materials and Methods:
Four sets of experiments were carried out. Cartilage samples were harvested under aseptic conditions from goat iliac apophysis and knee articular cartilage. The chondrocytes were isolated in each set and viable cells were counted and subsequently cultured as a monolayer in tissue culture flasks containing chondrogenic media at 2.5 × 103cells/cm2. The growth was periodically assessed with phase contrast microcopy and the cells were harvested on 8th and 15th days for morphology, cell yield, and phenotype assessment. Student's t-test was used for comparison of the means.
Confluence was reached in the iliac apophysis growth plate chondrocytes flasks on the 10th day and the articular cartilage chondrocytes flasks on the 14th day. Mean cell count of growth plate chondrocytes on the 8th day was 3.64 × 105 (SD = 0.601) and that of articular cartilage chondrocytes was 1.40 × 105 (SD = 0.758) per flask. The difference in the means was statistically significant (P = 0.003). On the 15th day, the mean cell number had increased to 1.35 × 106(SD = 0.20) and 1.19 × 106 (SD = 0.064) per flask, respectively. This difference was not statistically significant (P = 0.26). The population doubling time on the 8th day of cell culture was 3.18 and 6.24 days respectively, for iliac apophyseal and articular cartilage chondrocytes, which was altered to 3.59 and 3.1 days, respectively, on the 15th day. The immunocytochemistry showed 100% retention of collagen 2 positive and collagen 1 negative cells in both sets of cultures in all samples.
Iliac apophysis is a rich source of chondrocytes with a high growth rate and ability to retain phenotype when compared to articular cartilage derived chondrocytes. Further in vivo studies may determine the efficacy of physeal and articular repair in children with apophyseal chondrocytes.
PMCID: PMC3421929  PMID: 22912514
Articular cartilage; collagen 1; collagen 2; growth plate chondrocyte; immunocytochemistry; physeal bar; physis
9.  Induction of proliferation or hypertrophy of chondrocytes in serum-free culture: the role of insulin-like growth factor-I, insulin, or thyroxine 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1992;116(4):1035-1042.
In bone forming cartilage in vivo, cells undergo terminal differentiation, whereas most of the cells in normal articular cartilage do not. Chondrocyte hypertrophy can be induced also in vitro by diffusible signals. We have identified growth factors or hormones acting individually on 17-d chick embryo sternal chondrocytes cultured in agarose gels under strictly serum-free conditions. Insulin-like growth factor I or insulin triggered the first steps of chondrocyte maturation, i.e., cell proliferation and increased matrix deposition while the chondrocytic phenotype was maintained. However, cells did not progress to the hypertrophic stage. Proliferation and stimulated collagen production was preceded by a lag period, indicating that synthesis of other components was required before cells became responsive to insulin-like growth factor I or insulin. Very small amounts of FBS exerted effects similar to those of insulin-like growth factor I or insulin. However, FBS could act directly and elicited hypertrophy when constituting greater than 1% of the culture media. Basic FGF has been claimed to be the most potent chondrocyte mitogen, but had negligible effects under serum-free conditions. The same is true for PDGF, a major serum-mitogen. Under the direction of thyroxine, cells did not proliferate but became typical hypertrophic chondrocytes, extensively synthesizing collagen X and alkaline phosphatase.
PMCID: PMC2289336  PMID: 1734018
10.  Regulation of SOX9 in normal and osteoarthritic equine articular chondrocytes by hyperosmotic loading 
Osteoarthritis and Cartilage  2010;18(11-4):1502-1508.
SOX9 is a transcription factor that is essential for cartilage extracellular matrix (ECM) formation. Osteoarthritis (OA) is characterised by a loss of cartilage ECM. In chondrocytes SOX9 gene expression is regulated by osmotic loading. Here we characterise SOX9 mRNA regulation through static and cyclical application of hyperosmotic conditions in normal and OA monolayer equine chondrocytes. Furthermore, we investigate whether extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase (ERK)1/2 mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) pathways have a role in this regulation of SOX9.
Equine chondrocytes harvested from normal or OA joints were subjected to different osmotic loading patterns as either primary (P0) or passaged (P2) cells. The involvement of MEK–ERK signalling was demonstrated by using pharmacological inhibitors. In addition SOX9 gene stability was determined. Levels of transcripts encoding SOX9, Col2A1 and aggrecan were measured using qRT-PCR. De novo glycosaminoglycan synthesis of explants was determined with 35S sulphate during static hyperosmolar loading.
MEK–ERK signalling increases glycosaminoglycans (GAG) synthesis in explants. Static hyperosmotic conditions significantly reduced SOX9 mRNA in normal P2 and OA P0 but not normal P0 chondrocytes. SOX9 mRNA was stabilised by hyperosmotic conditions. Cyclical loading of normal P2 and OA P0 but not normal P0 cells led to an increase in SOX9 gene expression and this was prevented by MEK1/2 inhibition.
The response to osmotic loading of SOX9 mRNA is dependent on the nature of the osmotic stimulation and the chondrocyte phenotype. This variation may be important in disease progression.
PMCID: PMC3078327  PMID: 20800688
Cartilage; SOX9; ERK signalling; Osmotic loading
11.  MMP13 is a critical target gene during the progression of osteoarthritis 
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease affecting a large population of people. The mechanism of this highly prevalent disease is not fully understood. Currently there is no effective disease-modifying treatment for OA. The purpose of this study was two-fold: 1) to investigate the role of MMP13 in the development of OA; and 2) to evaluate the efficacy of the MMP13 inhibitor CL82198 as a pharmacologic treatment for preventing OA progression.
To investigate the role of the endogenous Mmp13 gene in OA development, tamoxifen was administered to two-week-old Col2CreER;Mmp13fx/fx (Mmp13Col2ER) and Cre-negative control mice for five days. OA was induced by meniscal-ligamentous injury (MLI) when the mice were 10 weeks old and MLI or sham-operated joints were harvested 4, 8, 12, or 16 weeks after surgery. To evaluate the efficacy of CL82198, MLI surgery was performed on 10-week-old wild type mice. CL82198 or saline was administered to the mice daily beginning immediately after the surgery for up to 16 weeks. The joint tissues collected from both experiments were evaluated by cartilage grading, histology/histomorphometry, immunohistochemistry (IHC), and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) staining. The ability of CL82198 to inhibit MMP13 activity in vitro was confirmed by ELISA.
The OA progression was decelerated in Mmp13Col2ER mice 8, 12, and 16 weeks post-surgery. Cartilage grading by blinded observers confirmed decreased articular cartilage degeneration in Mmp13Col2ER mice at 8, 12 and 16 weeks compared to Cre-negative mice. Histomorphometric analysis demonstrated that Mmp13Col2ER mice had a higher articular cartilage area and thickness at 12 and 16 weeks post-surgery compared to the control mice. Results of IHC revealed greater type II collagen and proteoglycan expression in Mmp13Col2ER mice. Chondrocyte apoptosis, as determined by TUNEL staining, was higher in control mice compared to Mmp13Col2ER mice. CL82198 inhibited MMP13 activity in conditioned media from vehicle (> 85%) or bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP2)-treated (> 90%) primary murine sternal chondrocytes. Intraperitoneal injection of CL82198 decelerated MLI-induced OA progression, increased type II collagen and proteoglycan levels, and inhibited chondrocyte apoptosis compared to saline treatment as determined by OA grading, histology, histomorphometry, IHC, and TUNEL staining, respectively.
Mmp13 is critical for OA progression and pharmacologic inhibition of MMP13 is an effective strategy to decelerate articular cartilage loss in a murine model of injury-induced knee OA.
PMCID: PMC3672752  PMID: 23298463
12.  Damage Control Mechanisms in Articular Cartilage 
Articular chondrocytes maintain cartilage throughout life by replacing lost or damaged matrix with freshly synthesized material. Synthesis activity is regulated, rapidly increasing to well above basal levels in response to cartilage injury. Such responses suggest that synthesis activity is linked to the rate of matrix loss by endogenous "damage control" mechanisms. As a major stimulator of matrix synthesis in cartilage, insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) is likely to play a role in such mechanisms. Although IGF-I is nearly ubiquitous, its bioavailability in cartilage is controlled by IGF-I binding proteins (IGFBPs) secreted by chondrocytes. IGFBPs are part of a complex system, termed the IGF-I axis, that tightly regulates IGF-I activities. For the most part, IGFBPs block IGF-I activity by sequestering IGF-I from its cell surface receptor. We recently found that the expression of one binding protein, IGFBP-3, increases with chondrocyte age, paralleling an age-related decline in synthesis activity. In addition, IGFBP-3 is overexpressed in osteoarthritic cartilage, leading to metabolic disturbances that contribute to cartilage degeneration. These observations indicate that IGFBP-3 plays a crucial role in regulating matrix synthesis in cartilage, and suggest that cartilage damage control mechanisms may fail due to age-related changes in IGFBP-3 expression or distribution. Our investigation of this hypothesis began with immunolocalization studies to determine the tissue distribution of IGFBP-3 in human cartilage. We found that IGFBP-3 accumulated around chondrocytes in the pericellular/territorial matrix, where it co-localized with fibronectin, but not with the other matrix proteins tenascin-C and type VI collagen. This result suggested that the IGFBP-3 distribution is determined by binding to fibronectin. Binding studies using purified proteins demonstrated that IGFBP-3 does in fact bind to fibronectin, but not to tenascin-C or type VI collagen. Finally, we investigated the metabolic effects of fibronectin and IGFBP-3 in a chondrocyte culture system. These experiments showed that fibronectin enhanced the inhibitory effect that low concentrations of IGFBP-3 had on matrix synthesis. Taken together, these observations confirm that IGFBP-3-fibronectin interactions affect the IGF-I axis, and they indicate that IGF-I is stored in the chondrocyte territorial matrix through binding to a complex of IGFBP-3 and intact fibronectin. This arrangement may play an important role in cartilage damage control mechanisms. The local increase in matrix synthesis following injury could result from damage-induced IGF-I release from such pools. An age-related failure to organize this system may contribute to degenerative disease.
PMCID: PMC1888750  PMID: 10934618
13.  Culture of chondrocytes in alginate surrounded by fibrin gel: characteristics of the cells over a period of eight weeks 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2001;60(8):781-790.
OBJECTIVE—To produce tissue engineered cartilage by human articular chondrocytes in vitro for further use in in vivo manipulations for the treatment of cartilage defects.
METHODS—Human articular chondrocytes were cultured in 0.5%, 1.0%, and 2.0% of alginate for up to four weeks. The optimal concentration of an alginate matrix for cell replication and for aggrecan synthesis by chondrocytes was determined. DNA content in the different culture conditions was measured after two and four weeks. Aggrecan synthesis rates and accumulation in the surrounding extracellular matrix were assessed by [35S]sulphate incorporation after the same periods of culture. To follow the outgrowth of chondrocytes from the alginate beads, chondrocytes were cultured for four weeks in 0.5 or 1.0% alginate surrounded by 0.25 or 0.5% fibrin gel. DNA content of each culture was measured after different culture periods. Finally, human chondrocytes in 1.0% alginate beads were embedded in 0.5% fibrin gel for eight weeks. Immunohistochemical analysis for aggrecan, type I and II collagen was performed weekly.
RESULTS—At two weeks the DNA content in each culture significantly increased in 0.5 and 1.0% alginate cultures in comparison with baseline values. This increase continued until week 4 at the three alginate concentrations. Aggrecan synthesis at two weeks was highest in 0.5 and 1.0% alginate cell cultures. At four weeks aggrecan synthesis rates decreased independently of the alginate concentrations. Aggrecan mainly accumulated in the interterritorial matrix. Proliferation of chondrocytes in alginate and outgrowth of these cells in the surrounding fibrin gel were evident throughout the culture period. The accumulation of aggrecan and type II collagen around the cells, in alginate as well as in fibrin gel, gradually increased over the culture period. Type I collagen appeared after six weeks in alginate and in the surrounding fibrin.
CONCLUSION—Human chondrocytes proliferate in this culture system, show an outgrowth into the surrounding fibrin, and synthesise a cartilage-like matrix for up to eight weeks.

PMCID: PMC1753804  PMID: 11454643
14.  α5β1 integrin induces the expression of noncartilaginous procollagen gene expression in articular chondrocytes cultured in monolayers 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2013;15(5):R127.
Articular chondrocytes undergo an obvious phenotypic change when cultured in monolayers. During this change, or dedifferentiation, the expression of type I and type III procollagen is induced where normal chondrocytes express little type I and type III procollagen. In this study, we attempted to determine the mechanism(s) for the induction of such procollagen expression in dedifferentiating chondrocytes.
All experiments were performed using primary-cultured human articular chondrocytes under approval of institutional review boards. Integrin(s) responsible for the induction of type I and type III procollagen expression were specified by RNAi experiments. The signal pathway(s) involved in the induction were determined by specific inhibitors and RNAi experiments. Adenovirus-mediated experiments were performed to identify a small GTPase regulating the activity of integrins in dedifferentiating chondrocytes. The effect of inhibition of integrins on dedifferentiation was investigated by experiments using echistatin, a potent disintegrin. The effect of echistatin was investigated first with monolayer-cultured chondrocytes, and then with pellet-cultured chondrocytes.
In dedifferentiating chondrocytes, α5β1 integrin was found to be involved in the induction of type I and type III procollagen expression. The induction was known to be mediated by v-akt murine thymoma viral oncogene homolog (AKT) signaling. Among the three AKT isoforms, AKT1 seemed to be most involved in the signaling. Elated RAS viral (r-ras) oncogene homolog (RRAS) was considered to regulate the progression of dedifferentiation by modulating the affinity and avidity of α5β1 integrin to ligands. Echistatin inhibited dedifferentiation of monolayer-cultured chondrocytes. Furthermore, the matrix formed by pellet-cultured chondrocytes more closely resembled that of normal cartilage compared with the controls.
The result of this study has shown, for the first time, that α5β1 integrin may be responsible for the induction of non-cartilaginous collagen expression in chondrocytes undergoing dedifferentiation. Again, this study has shown that the inhibition of ligand ligation to integrins may be an effective strategy to inhibit phenotypic change of cultured chondrocytes, and to improve the quality of matrix synthesized by primary cultured chondrocytes.
PMCID: PMC3978676  PMID: 24286194
15.  Glycosaminoglycans of human rotator cuff tendons: changes with age and in chronic rotator cuff tendinitis. 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1994;53(6):367-376.
OBJECTIVES--To analyse the glycosaminoglycans of the adult human rotator cuff tendon matrix, to characterise changes in the glycosaminoglycan composition with age and in chronic rotator cuff tendinitis. METHODS--Rotator cuff (supraspinatus) tendons (n = 84) and common biceps tendons (n = 26) were obtained from cadavers with no history of tendon pathology (age range 11-95 years). Biopsies of rotator cuff tendons (supraspinatus and subscapularis tendons, n = 53) were obtained during open shoulder surgery to repair shoulder lesions (age range 38-80 years). Glycosaminoglycans were extracted by papain digestion and analysed by cellulose acetate electrophoresis, the carbazole assay for uronic acid and the dimethylmethylene blue dye-binding assay for sulphated glycosaminoglycans. Some digests were analysed for keratan sulphate by 5D4 monoclonal antibody ELISA. Soluble proteoglycans were extracted in 4M guanidine hydrochloride and analysed by 4-15% SDS PAGE. RESULTS--The mean (SD) sulphated glycosaminoglycan (GAG) content of the normal cadaver supraspinatus tendon was 12.3 (4.3) micrograms/mg dry weight, between three and ten times greater than in the common biceps tendon [1.2 (0.6) micrograms/mg dry weight]. The major GAG was chondroitin sulphate [6.9 (2.6) micrograms/mg dry weight], with a smaller proportion of dermatan sulphate [2.5 (1.2) micrograms/mg dry weight]. In contrast, the common biceps tendon contained predominantly dermatan sulphate [0.8 (0.2) microgram/mg dry weight] with less chondroitin sulphate [0.2 (0.2) microgram/mg dry weight]. There was no difference in the concentration of hyaluronan in these tendons [9.3 (2.8) micrograms/mg dry weight and 10.8 (4.3) micrograms/mg dry weight respectively] and there was no significant change of hyaluronan with age. Keratan sulphate was a small but significant component of the supraspinatus tendon [0.43 (0.33) microgram/mg dry weight, n = 25], whereas there was little or none in the common biceps tendon [0.04 (0.05) microgram/mg dry weight, n = 8] and there was no significant change across the age range. In the supraspinatus tendon, there was a significant decrease in total glycosaminoglycan, chondroitin sulphate and dermatan sulphate with age (p < 0.001), whether expressed relative to the tendon dry weight or total collagen content, and no change in the relative proportion of the different GAG types. There was, however, a large degree of variation within the samples. Supraspinatus tendons from patients with chronic tendinitis had a significantly increased concentration of hyaluronan [30.4 (10.1) micrograms/mg dry weight, p < 0.001], chondroitin sulphate [8.4 (1.8) micrograms/mg dry weight, p < 0.05] and dermatan sulphate [3.8 (1.1) micrograms/mg dry weight, p < 0.001] compared with normal cadaver supraspinatus tendons, although the keratan sulphate content was not significantly different [0.18 (0.05) microgram/mg dry weight]. CONCLUSIONS--The normal supraspinatus tendon has the proteoglycan/glycosaminoglycan of tendon fibrocartilage, which it is suggested is an adaptation to mechanical forces (tension, compression and shear) which act on the rotator cuff tendons in the shoulder, although other factors such as reduced vascularity, low oxygen tension and the influence of local growth factors may also be important. This functional adaptation may have important consequences for the structural strength of the supraspinatus tendon and to influence the ability of the tendon to repair after injury. The glycosaminoglycan composition of tendon specimens from patients with chronic tendinitis is consistent with acute inflammation and new matrix proteoglycan synthesis, even in relatively old tendon specimens and after at least one injection of corticosteroid.
PMCID: PMC1005351  PMID: 8037495
16.  C-28/I2 and T/C-28a2 chondrocytes as well as human primary articular chondrocytes express sex hormone and insulin receptors—Useful cells in study of cartilage metabolism☆ 
Sex hormones and insulin have been implicated in articular cartilage metabolism. To supplement previous findings on the regulation of matrix synthesis with 17β-estradiol and insulin and to find a possible model to study cartilage metabolism in vitro, we evaluated the expression of estrogen receptors α and α (ERα, ERβ), androgen receptor (AR) and insulin receptor (IR), in immortalized C-28/I2 and T/C-28a2 chondrocytes and in human primary articular cartilage cells. Chondrocytes were treated with increasing concentrations of 17β-estradiol, dihydrotestosterone or insulin and analyzed by means of RT-PCR and Western blotting. Both cell lines as well as human articular chondrocytes expressed ER αand β, AR and IR at mRNA and protein levels. In immortalized C-28/I2 chondrocytes, we showed that increasing concentrations of 17β-estradiol diminished the 95 kDa band of IR. Since 17β-estradiol suppresses insulin-induced proline incorporation and type II collagen synthesis, as we have previously demonstrated, our findings give the first clue that 17β-estradiol may have negative effects on cartilage anabolism triggered by insulin during hormonal imbalance. Compared to chondrocytes cultured without hormones, immunostaining for ERα/β, AR and IR was decreased in both cell lines after incubation of cells with the receptor-specific hormones. It can be assumed that C-28/I2 and T/C-28a2 chondrocytes interact with the respective hormones. Our findings provide a reproducible model for investigating sex hormone and insulin receptors, which are present in low concentrations in articular chondrocytes, in the tissue-specific context of cartilage metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3937963  PMID: 20971625
Chondrocyte cell lines C-28/I2 and T/C-28a2; Human primary articular chondrocytes; 17β-Estradiol; insulin; Sex hormone receptors; Insulin receptor; Gene expression
17.  Induction of Re-Differentiation of Passaged Rat Chondrocytes Using a Naturally Obtained Extracellular Matrix Microenvironment 
Tissue Engineering. Part A  2013;19(7-8):978-988.
Dedifferentiated human chondrocytes severely limit successful hyaline cartilage repair in clinical practice. The primary interest of this study is to evaluate the naturally obtained cell-derived matrix (CDM) as a physical microenvironment for chondrocyte re-differentiation. Once different cell types were cultured for 6 days and decellularized using detergents and enzymes, the fibroblast-derived matrix (FDM), preosteoblast-derived matrix (PDM), and chondrocyte-derived matrix (CHDM) were obtained. From scanning electron microscope observation, each CDM was found to resemble a fibrous mesh with self-assembled fibrils. Both the FDM and PDM showed a more compact matrix structure compared to the CHDM. For compositional analysis, sodium dodecyl sulfate–polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis displayed numerous matrix proteins, which were quite different from each CDM in quantity and type. Specific matrix components, such as fibronectin, type I collagen (Col I), and laminin, were detected using immunofluorescent staining. In addition, the water contact angle suggests that the FDM is more hydrophilic than the PDM or CHDM. The proliferation of rat primary chondrocytes growing on CDMs was better than those growing on a plastic coverslip (control) or gelatin. Meanwhile, synthesis of glycosaminoglycan (GAG) was more effective for passaged chondrocytes (P4) cultivated on CDMs, and the difference was significant compared to cells grown on the control or on gelatin. As for the gene expression of cartilage-specific markers, CDMs exhibited good chondrocyte re-differentiation with time: the dedifferentiating marker, Col I was restrained, whereas the ratio between Col II and Col I, and between aggrecan and Col I, as an indicator of re-differentiation, was greatly improved. In addition, immunofluorescence of Col II showed a very positive signal in chondrocytes cultivated for 2 weeks on the CDMs. In an additional study, when three-dimensional cell pellets made from either plate-grown or matrix-grown dedifferentiated chondrocytes (P5) were cultured for 4 weeks, the results of Safranin-O staining, immunohistochemistry of Col II, and total GAG assay suggested that matrix-grown cells were significantly better in the induction of chondrocyte re-differentiation, than those grown on the plate. This work suggests that the naturally occurring matrix, CDM, can provide a favorable surface texture for cell attachment, proliferation, and more importantly, a chondroinductive microenvironment for the re-differentiation of dedifferentiated chondrocytes.
PMCID: PMC3589875  PMID: 23157423
18.  Articular cartilage chondrocytes express aromatase and use enzymes involved in estrogen metabolism 
Sex hormones, especially estrogens, have been implicated in articular cartilage metabolism and the pathogenesis of postmenopausal osteoarthritis. The conversion by aromatase (CYP19A1) of androstenedione into estrone (E1) and of testosterone into 17β-estradiol (E2) plays a key role in the endogenous synthesis of estrogens in tissue.
We analyzed the expression of aromatase (CYP19A1) in immortalized C-28/I2 and T/C-28a2 chondrocytes, as well as in cultured primary human articular chondrocytes and human articular cartilage tissue, by means of RT-PCR, Western blotting and immunohistochemistry. By means of quantitative RT-PCR and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, we also determined whether the aromatase inhibitor letrozole influences estrogen metabolism of cultured chondrocytes in immortalized C-28/I2 chondrocytes.
Aromatase mRNA was detected in both immortalized chondrocyte cell lines, in cultured primary human chondrocytes, and in human articular cartilage tissue. By means of Western blot analysis, aromatase was detected at the protein level in articular cartilage taken from various patients of both sexes and different ages. Cultured primary human articular chondrocytes, C-28/I2 and T/C-28a2, and human articular cartilage tissue reacted with antibodies for aromatase. Incubation of C-28/I2 chondrocytes with 10−11 M to 10−7 M letrozole as an aromatase inhibitor revealed significantly increased amounts of the mRNAs of the enzyme cytochrome P4501A1 (CYP1A1), which is involved in the catagen estrogen metabolism, and of the estrogen receptors ER-α and ER-β. Concomitantly, synthesis of estrone (E1) was significantly downregulated after incubation with letrozole.
We demonstrate that human articular cartilage expresses aromatase at the mRNA and protein levels. Blocking of estrone synthesis by the aromatase inhibitor letrozole is counteracted by an increase in ER-α and ER-β. In addition, CYP1A1, an enzyme involved in catabolic estrogen metabolism, is upregulated. This suggests that articular chondrocytes use ERs functionally. The role of endogenous synthesized estrogens in articular cartilage health remains to be elucidated.
PMCID: PMC4060203  PMID: 24725461
19.  1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 Activates MMP13 Gene Expression in Chondrocytes through p38 MARK Pathway 
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most prevalent degenerative joint disease. The highly regulated balance of matrix synthesis and degradation is disrupted in OA, leading to progressive breakdown of articular cartilage. The molecular events and pathways involved in chondrocyte disfunction of cartilage in OA are not fully understood. It is known that 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D₃ (1,25-(OH)2D3) is synthesized by macrophages derived from synovial fluid of patients with inflammatory arthritis. Vitmain D receptor is expressed in chondrocytes within osteoarthritic cartilage, suggesting a contributory role of 1,25-(OH)2D3 in the aberrant behavior of chondrocytes in OA. However, the physiological function of 1,25-(OH)2D3 on chondrocytes in OA remains obscure. Effect of 1,25-(OH)2D3 on gene expression in chondrocytes was investigated in this study. We found that 1,25-(OH)2D3 activated MMP13 expression in a dose-dependent and time-dependent manner, a major enzyme that targets cartilage for degradation. Interestingly, a specific mitogen-activated protein kinase p38 inhibitor SB203580, but not JNK kinase inhibitor SP600125, abrogated 1,25-(OH)2D3 activation of MMP13 expression. 1,25-(OH)2D3-induced increase in MMP13 protein level was in parallel with the phosphorylation of p38 in chondrocytes. To further address the effect of 1,25-(OH)2D3 on MMP13 expression, transfection assays were used to show that 1,25-(OH)2D3 activated the MMP13 promoter reporter expression. MMP13 is known to target type II collagen and aggrecan for degradation, two major components of cartilage matrix. We observed that the treatment of 1,25-(OH)2D3 in chondrocytes results in downregulation of both type II collagen and aggrecan while MMP13 was upregulated. Taken together, we provide the first evidence to demonstrate that 1,25-(OH)2D3 activates MMP13 expression through p38 pathway in chondrocytes. Since MMP13 plays a major role in cartilage degradation in OA, we speculate that the ability of 1,25-(OH)2D3 to potentiate MMP13 expression might facilitate cartilage erosion at the site of inflammatory arthritis.
PMCID: PMC3708044  PMID: 23847446
1,25-(OH)2D3; MMP13; Osteoarthritis; p38; Gene expression; Chondrocyte.
20.  Vitamin E prevents the age-dependent and palmitate-induced disturbances of sphingolipid turnover in liver cells 
Age  2011;34(4):905-915.
Sphingolipid turnover has been shown to be activated at old age and in response to various stress stimuli including oxidative stress. Reduction of vitamin E content in the liver under the pro-oxidant action is associated with enhanced sphingolipid turnover and ceramide accumulation in hepatocytes. In the present paper, the correction of sphingolipid metabolism in the liver cells of old rats and in the palmitate-treated young hepatocytes using α-tocopherol has been investigated. 3- and 24-month-old rats, [14 C]palmitic acid, [methyl−14 C-choline]sphingomyelin (SM), and [14 C]serine were used. α-Tocopherol administration to old rats or addition to the culture medium of old liver slices or hepatocytes prevented age-dependent increase of ceramide synthesis and lipid accumulation, and increased SM content in liver tissue and cells. α-Tocopherol treatment of old cells decreased the neutral and acid sphingomyelinase (SMase) activities in hepatocytes and serine palmitoyl transferase activity in the liver cell microsomes. Effect of α- or γ-tocopherol, but not of δ-tocopherol, on the newly synthesized ceramide content in old cells was correlated with the action of inhibitor of serine palmitoyl transferase (SPT) activity (myriocin) and SMase inhibitors (glutathione, imipramine). Addition of α-tocopherol as well as myriocin to the culture medium of young hepatocytes, treated by palmitate, abolished ceramide accumulation and synthesis. The data obtained demonstrate that α-tocopherol normalized elevated ceramide content in the old liver cells via inhibition of acid and neutral SMase activities and lipid synthesis de novo. α-Tocopherol, reducing ceramide synthesis, prevented palmitate-induced aging-like ceramide accumulation in young liver cells.
PMCID: PMC3682064  PMID: 21796379
Old age; Liver cells; Vitamin E; α-Tocopherol; Palmitic acid; Ceramide; Sphingomyelinases
21.  Effect of heparin on synthesis of short chain collagen by chondrocytes and smooth muscle cells 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1987;105(2):1007-1012.
The treatment of embryonic chick chondrocyte cultures with heparin results in a decrease in collagen synthesis. One of the collagens synthesized by hypertrophic chondrocytes, specifically type X collagen, may play an important role in cartilage mineralization and endochondral ossification. Recently a new short chain collagenous component was found in cultures of rat vascular smooth muscle cells (Majack, R. A., and P. Bornstein, 1985, J. Cell Biol., 100: 613-619). The present study was initiated to investigate heparin's effect on type X collagen in embryonic chick chondrocytes and to further evaluate the nature of the short chain component synthesized by rat vascular smooth muscle cells. Different tissues may respond differently to the administration of heparin. In chondrocyte cultures heparin decreased both total collagen synthesis as well as the synthesis of type X collagen. There was an accumulation of collagen precursors, found principally in the cell layer compartment, which appeared to be the result of heparin's inhibition of the NH2-terminal protease. In cultures of rat vascular smooth muscle cells heparin was found to increase the synthesis of a short chain collagenous component as previously reported. However, comparison with a type X collagen standard showed this to be different from type X. In all cases, the effect of heparin on collagen chain precursors, chondrocyte type X synthesis, and synthesis of a vascular smooth muscle short chain collagen was shown to be reversible. Similar effects were obtained by adding chondroitin sulfate to chondrocytes, suggesting a role for extracellular matrix components in the modulation of collagen synthesis. These findings are consistent with the concept of a group of short chain collagens with type X collagen being unique to hypertrophic chondrocytes.
PMCID: PMC2114771  PMID: 3114266
The Journal of Cell Biology  1966;28(3):473-487.
Observations were made on the behavior of chondrocytes grown under various conditions in vitro. The chondrocytes in 10-day embryonic chick vertebrae were grown as cultures of intact vertebrae, as pellets of chondrocytes liberated from their matrix, and as monodispersed cells plated out on plasma clots. Cartilage matrix was stained metachromatically with toluidine blue. Radioautographs were made of incorporated H3-thymidine, H3-proline, and S35-sulfate to determine the extent of DNA synthesis, collagen synthesis, and chondroitin sulfate synthesis, respectively. Chondrocytes in intact vertebrae or in pellets are rounded and actively synthesizing chondroitin sulfate and collagen. There is little DNA synthesis by cells in either vertebrae or pellets. Chondrocytes grown as monodisperse cells rapidly cease synthesizing cytologically detectable chondroitin sulfate and are induced to synthesize DNA and divide. There is a change in the shape of these chondrocytes from a rounded to a more stellate condition which accompanies the shift in metabolic activity. Conversely, when the cells attain a certain cell density, they reacquire a rounded shape, cease dividing, and again synthesize chondroitin sulfate. Clusters of chondrocytes synthesize more chondroitin sulfate than isolated chondrocytes. It is concluded that most chondrocytes synthesizing chondroitin sulfate do not concurrently synthesize DNA. Interaction between associated chondrocytes is important in inducing and maintaining chondroitin sulfate synthesis in genetically determined chondrocytes. Failure of interaction between chondrocytes leads to DNA synthesis and cell multiplication.
PMCID: PMC2106945  PMID: 4163861
23.  Culture of Primary Bovine Chondrocytes on a Continuously Expanding Surface Inhibits Dedifferentiation 
Tissue Engineering. Part A  2012;18(23-24):2466-2476.
Expansion of autologous chondrocytes in vitro is used to generate adequate populations for cell-based therapies. However, standard (SD) culture methods cause loss of chondrocyte phenotype and dedifferentiation to fibroblast-like cells. Here, we use a novel surface expansion culture system in an effort to inhibit chondrocyte dedifferentiation. A highly elastic silicone rubber culture surface was continuously stretched over a 13-day period to 600% of its initial surface area. This maintained cells at a high density while limiting contact inhibition and reducing the need for passaging. Gene expression analysis, biochemical assays, and immunofluorescence microscopy of follow-on pellet cultures were used to characterize the results of continuous expansion (CE) culture versus SD cultures on rigid polystyrene. CE culture yielded cells with a more chondrocyte-like morphology and higher RNA-level expression of the chondrogenic markers collagen type II, aggrecan, and cartilage oligomeric matrix protein. Furthermore, the expression of collagen type I RNA and α-smooth muscle actin protein were significantly reduced, indicating suppression of fibroblastic features. Pellet cultures from CE chondrocytes contained more sulphated glycosaminoglycan and collagen type II than pellets from SD culture. Additional control cultures on static (unexpanded) silicone (SS culture) indicated that benefits of CE culture were partially due to features of the culture surface itself and partially due to the reduced passaging which that surface enabled through CE. Chondrocytes grown in CE culture may, therefore, be a superior source for cell-based therapies.
PMCID: PMC3501116  PMID: 22738340
24.  Effect of dynamic compressive loading and its combination with a growth factor on the chondrocytic phenotype of 3-dimensional scaffold-embedded chondrocytes 
Acta Orthopaedica  2009;80(6):724-733.
Background and purpose Three-dimensionally (3D-) embedded chondrocytes have been suggested to maintain the chondrocytic phenotype. Furthermore, mechanical stress and growth factors have been found to be capable of enhancing cell proliferation and ECM synthesis. We investigated the effect of mechanical loading and growth factors on reactivation of the 3D-embedded chondrocytes.
Methods Freshly isolated chondrocytes from rat articular cartilage were grown in monolayer cultures and then in collagen gel. Real-time RT-PCR and histological analysis for aggrecan and type II and type I collagen was performed to evaluate their chondrocytic activity. Then, the 3D-embedded chondrocytes were cultured under either mechanical loading alone or in combination with growth factor. The dynamic compression (5% compression, 0.33 Hz) was loaded for 4 durations: 0, 10, 60, and 120 min/day. The growth factor administered was either basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) or bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2).
Results Mechanical loading statistically significantly reactivated the aggrecan and type II collagen expression with loading of 60 min/day as compared to the other durations. The presence of BMP-2 and bFGF clearly enhanced the aggrecan and type II collagen expression of 3D-embedded chondrocytes. Unlike previous reports using monolayer chondrocytes, however, BMP-2 or bFGF did not augment the chondrocytic phenotype when applied together with mechanical loading.
Interpretation Dynamic compression effectively reactivated the dedifferentiated chondrocytes in 3D culture. However, the growth factors did not play any synergistic role when applied with dynamic compressive loading, suggesting that growth factors should be administered at different time points during regeneration of the transplantation-ready cartilage.
PMCID: PMC2823308  PMID: 19968598
25.  Chondrocyte Moves: clever strategies? 
To review the literature on chondrocyte movements and to develop plausible hypothesis for further work.
Chondrocyte movements are herein defined as translocations of the cell body. To set the stage for a discussion of chondrocyte moves, a brief overview of cell migration in other cell types is presented, including a discussion of the challenges that cells find when moving within tissues. Reports of isolated chondrocyte migration in vitro (isolated cell systems) and ex vivo (cartilage organ cultures) are then summarized, followed by a discussion of recent studies that infer chondrocyte movements in vivo.
Investigators from different laboratories have observed chondrocyte motility in vitro. I became interested in the question of whether articular chondrocytes retained their phenotype during their migratory excursions. We devised a simple method to separate migratory and stationary chondrocytes and then showed that migratory chondrocytes synthesized collagen II but not I—consistent with a differentiated phenotype. Our time-lapse video microscopy studies showed that the cells displayed appropriate movement kinetics, albeit with low speed and directionality. Similarly, others have presented data consistent with slow movement of chondrocytes out of cartilage explants. It is important to decipher whether these in vitro movements reflect physiological states and if so, which events are simulated. Examples of in vivo studies that have inferred chondrocyte movements include those describing rotational or gliding movements of chondrocytes in the proliferative zone of the growth plate and its importance in the growth process; and the notion that chondrocytes move from the cartilage endplates to the nucleus pulposus in the spine of rabbits and rats during development. Such studies are consistent with the hypothesis that chondrocytes exhibit highly controlled and specialized movements during tissue growth and remodeling in vivo. On the other hand, the cartilage explant studies elicit interest in the possibility that matrix injuries resulting in disruption of the collagen network of adult cartilages provide a permissive environment for chondrocyte motility.
The case for in vivo chondrocyte motility remains to be proven. However, the in vitro and in vivo data on chondrocyte movements present an argument for further thought and studies in this area.
PMCID: PMC1994785  PMID: 17467303
chondrocyte movement; migration; cell processes

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