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1.  Caesalpinia sappan extract inhibits IL1β-mediated overexpression of matrix metalloproteinases in human chondrocytes 
Genes & Nutrition  2011;7(2):307-318.
Exacerbated production of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) is a key event in the progression of osteoarthritis (OA) and represents a promising target for the management of OA with nutraceuticals. In this study, we sought to determine the MMP-inhibitory activity of an ethanolic Caesalpinia sappan extract (CSE) in human OA chondrocytes. Thus, human articular chondrocytes isolated from OA cartilage and SW1353 chondrocytes were stimulated with Interleukin-1beta (IL1β), without or with pretreatment with CSE. Following viability assays, the production of MMP-2 and MMP-13 was assessed using ELISA, whereas mRNA levels of MMP-1, MMP-2, MMP-3, MMP-7, MMP-8, MMP-9, MMP-13 and TIMP-1, TIMP-2, TIMP-3 were quantified using RT-qPCR assays. Chondrocytes were co-transfected with a MMP-13 luciferase reporter construct and NF-kB p50 and p65 expression vectors in the presence or absence of CSE. In addition, the direct effect of CSE on the proteolytic activities of MMP-2 was evaluated using gelatin zymography. We found that CSE significantly suppressed IL1β-mediated upregulation of MMP-13 mRNA and protein levels via abrogation of the NF-kB(p65/p50)-driven MMP-13 promoter activation. We further observed that the levels of IL1β-induced MMP-1, MMP-3, MMP-7, and MMP-9 mRNA, but not TIMP mRNA levels, were down-regulated in chondrocytes in response to CSE. Zymographic results suggested that CSE did not directly interfere with the proteolytic activity of MMP-2. In summary, this study provides evidence for the MMP-inhibitory potential of CSE or CSE-derived compounds in human OA chondrocytes. The data indicate that the mechanism of this inhibition might, at least in part, involve targeting of NF-kB-mediated promoter activation.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s12263-011-0244-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3316743  PMID: 21850498
Chondrocytes; Osteoarthritis; Caesalpinia sappan; Matrix metalloproteinase; Tissue inhibitors of MMP; NFkB
2.  Oncostatin M in combination with tumour necrosis factor α induces a chondrocyte membrane associated aggrecanase that is distinct from ADAMTS aggrecanase-1 or -2 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2005;64(11):1624-1632.
Objective: To determine whether oncostatin M (OSM) + tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα) induces aggrecanase activity in chondrocyte membranes, to determine the effects of transforming growth factor ß1 (TGFß1), interleukin 4 (IL4), and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases (TIMPs) on this activity, and to determine whether this activity is due to a known ADAMTS aggrecanase.
Methods: Aggrecanase activity and ability of agents to prevent membrane associated aggrecanase activity were assessed by Western blotting. Expression of known aggrecanases was measured by real time polymerase chain reaction in bovine nasal and human articular chondrocytes.
Results: Chondrocyte membrane associated aggrecanase activity and increased mRNA expression of ADAMTS-1, -4, -5, and -9, but not ADAMTS-4 or -15, were enhanced after stimulation by OSM+TNFα in bovine chondrocytes. This activity was inhibited by TIMP-3. In human chondrocytes, OSM+TNFα also enhanced ADAMTS-1 and -4 expression, but not that of other ADAMTSs. TNFα alone induced ADAMTS-9 expression, whereas OSM addition caused suppression. Both TGFß1 and IL4 blocked membrane associated aggrecanase activity and decreased OSM+TNFα-induced expression of ADAMTS-9 in bovine and human chondrocytes. IL4 down regulated ADAMTS-4 mRNA, whereas TGFß1 increased this expression in both bovine and human chondrocytes.
Conclusions: OSM+TNFα up regulates membrane associated aggrecanase activity and several ADAMTS aggrecanase mRNAs in chondrocytes. The chondroprotective effects of IL4 and TIMP-3 suggest that they may have therapeutic benefit for aggrecanolysis, whereas the differential inhibitory effects of TGFß1 may limit its therapeutic potential. Induced membrane associated aggrecanase activity is distinct from known soluble ADAMTS aggrecanases and merits further investigation.
PMCID: PMC1755260  PMID: 15883123
3.  Insulin-like growth factor 1 blocks collagen release and down regulates matrix metalloproteinase-1, -3, -8, and -13 mRNA expression in bovine nasal cartilage stimulated with oncostatin M in combination with interleukin 1α 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2001;60(3):254-261.
OBJECTIVE—To investigate the effect of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) on the release of collagen, and the production and expression of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) induced by the proinflammatory cytokine interleukin 1α (IL1α) in combination with oncostatin M (OSM) from bovine nasal cartilage and primary human articular chondrocytes.
METHODS—Human articular chondrocytes and bovine nasal cartilage were cultured with and without IGF1 in the presence of IL1α or IL1α + OSM. The release of collagen was measured by an assay for hydroxyproline. Collagenase activity was determined with the diffuse fibril assay using 3H acetylated collagen. The expression of MMP-1, MMP-3, MMP-8, MMP-13, and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 1 (TIMP-1) mRNA was analysed by northern blot.
RESULTS—IGF1 can partially inhibit the release of collagen induced by IL1α or IL1α + OSM from bovine nasal cartilage. This was accompanied by a reduced secretion and activation of collagenase by bovine nasal cartilage. IGF1 can also down regulate IL1α or IL1α + OSM induced MMP-1, MMP-3, MMP-8, and MMP-13 mRNA expression in human articular chondrocytes and bovine chondrocytes. It had no significant effect on the production and expression of TIMP-1 mRNA in chondrocytes.
CONCLUSION—This study shows for the first time that IGF1 can partially block the release of collagen from cartilage and suggests that down regulation of collagenases by IGF1 may be an important mechanism in preventing cartilage resorption initiated by proinflammatory cytokines.

PMCID: PMC1753584  PMID: 11171688
4.  Cartilage destruction by matrix degradation products 
Modern Rheumatology  2006;16(4):197-205.
The progressive destruction of articular cartilage is one of the hallmarks of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Cartilage degradation is attributed to different classes of catabolic factors, including proinflammatory cytokines, aggrecanases, matrix metalloproteinases, and nitric oxide. Recently, matrix degradation products generated by excessive proteolysis in arthritis have been found to mediate cartilage destruction. These proteolytic fragments activate chondrocytes and synovial fibroblasts via specific cell surface receptors that can stimulate catabolic intracellular signaling pathways, leading to the induction of such catalysts. This review describes the catabolic activities of matrix degradation products, especially fibronectin fragments, and discusses the pathologic implication in cartilage destruction in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Increased levels of these degradation products, found in diseased joints, may stimulate cartilage breakdown by mechanisms of the kind demonstrated in the review.
PMCID: PMC2780665  PMID: 16906368
Cartilage destruction; Fibronectin fragment (FN-f); Integrin; Matrix metalloproteinase (MMP); Mitogen-activated protein kinase
5.  Human articular chondrocytes express 15-lipoxygenase-1 and -2: potential role in osteoarthritis 
15-Lipoxygenases and their metabolites have been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties, but little is known regarding their expression and function in chondrocytes. The objective of this study was to evaluate the expression of 15-lipoxygenase-1 and -2 in human articular chondrocytes, and to investigate the effects of their metabolites 13(S)-hydroxy octadecadienoic and 15(S)-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acids on IL-1β-induced matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-1 and MMP-13 expression.
The expression levels of 15-lipoxygenase-1 and -2 were analyzed by reverse transcription PCR and Western blotting in chondrocytes, and by immunohistochemistry in cartilage. Chondrocytes or cartilage explants were stimulated with IL-1β in the absence or presence of 13(S)-hydroxy octadecadienoic and 15(S)-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acids, and the levels of MMP-1 and MMP-13 protein production and type II collagen cleavage were evaluated using immunoassays. The role of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)γ was evaluated using transient transfection experiments and the PPARγ antagonist GW9662.
Articular chondrocytes express 15-lipoxygenase-1 and -2 at the mRNA and protein levels. 13(S)-hydroxy octadecadienoic and 15(S)-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acids dose dependently decreased IL-1β-induced MMP-1 and MMP-13 protein and mRNA expression as well as type II collagen cleavage. The effect on MMP-1 and MMP-13 expression does not require de novo protein synthesis. 13(S)-hydroxy octadecadienoic and 15(S)-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acids activated endogenous PPARγ, and GW9662 prevented their suppressive effect on MMP-1 and MMP-13 production, suggesting the involvement of PPARγ in these effects.
This study is the first to demonstrate the expression of 15-lipoxygenase-1 and -2 in articular chondrocytes. Their respective metabolites, namely 13(S)-hydroxy octadecadienoic and 15(S)-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acids, suppressed IL-1β-induced MMP-1 and MMP-13 expression in a PPARγ-dependent pathway. These data suggest that 15-lipoxygenases may have chondroprotective properties by reducing MMP-1 and MMP-13 expression.
PMCID: PMC2688191  PMID: 19296842
6.  Metalloproteinase and inhibitor expression profiling of resorbing cartilage reveals pro-collagenase activation as a critical step for collagenolysis 
Excess proteolysis of the extracellular matrix (ECM) of articular cartilage is a key characteristic of arthritis. The main enzymes involved belong to the metalloproteinase family, specifically the matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and a group of proteinases with a disintegrin and metalloproteinase domain with thrombospondin motifs (ADAMTS). Chondrocytes are the only cell type embedded in the cartilage ECM, and cell-matrix interactions can influence gene expression and cell behaviour. Thus, although the use of monolayer cultures can be informative, it is essential to study chondrocytes encapsulated within their native environment, cartilage, to fully assess cellular responses. The aim of this study was to profile the temporal gene expression of metalloproteinases and their endogenous inhibitors, the tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs), reversion-inducing cysteine-rich protein with Kazal motifs (RECK), and α2-macroglobulin (α2M), in actively resorbing cartilage. The addition of the pro-inflammatory cytokine combination of interleukin-1 (IL-1) + oncostatin M (OSM) to bovine nasal cartilage induces the synthesis and subsequent activation of pro-metalloproteinases, leading to cartilage resorption. We show that IL-1+OSM upregulated the expression of MMP-1, -2, -3, -9, 12, -13, -14, TIMP-1, and ADAMTS-4, -5, and -9. Differences in basal expression and the magnitude of induction were observed, whilst there was no significant modulation of TIMP-2, -3, RECK, or ADAMTS-15 gene expression. IL-1+OSM downregulated MMP-16,TIMP-4, and α2M expression. All IL-1+OSM-induced metalloproteinases showed marked upregulation early in the culture period, whilst inhibitor expression was reduced throughout the stimulation period such that metalloproteinase production would be in excess of inhibitors. Moreover, although pro-collagenases were upregulated and synthesized early (by day 5), collagenolysis became apparent later with the presence of active collagenases (day 10) when inhibitor levels were low. These findings indicate that the activation cascades for pro-collagenases are delayed relative to collagenase expression, further confirm the coordinated regulation of metalloproteinases in actively resorbing cartilage, and support the use of bovine nasal cartilage as a model system to study the mechanisms that promote cartilage degradation.
PMCID: PMC1779431  PMID: 16919164
7.  Aggrecan degradation in human cartilage. Evidence for both matrix metalloproteinase and aggrecanase activity in normal, osteoarthritic, and rheumatoid joints. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1997;100(1):93-106.
To examine the activity of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and aggrecanase in control and diseased human articular cartilage, metabolic fragments of aggrecan were detected with monospecific antipeptide antibodies. The distribution and quantity of MMP-generated aggrecan G1 fragments terminating in VDIPEN341 were compared with the distribution of aggrecanase-generated G1 fragments terminating in NITEGE373. Both types of G1 fragments were isolated from osteoarthritic cartilage. The sizes were consistent with a single enzymatic cleavage in the interglobular domain region, with no further proteolytic processing of these fragments. Both neoepitopes were also detected by immunohistochemistry in articular cartilage from patients undergoing joint replacement for osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and in cartilage from adults with no known joint disease. In control specimens, the staining intensity for both G1 fragments increased with age, with little staining in cartilage from 22-wk-old fetal samples. There was also an increase with age in the extracted amount of MMP-generated neoepitope in relation to both aggrecan and collagen content, confirming the immunohistochemical results. After the age of 20-30 yr this relationship remained at a steady state. The staining for the MMP-generated epitope was most marked in control cartilage exhibiting histological signs of damage, whereas intense staining for the aggrecanase-generated fragment was often noted in adult cartilage lacking overt histological damage. Intense staining for both neoepitopes appeared in the more severely fibrillated, superficial region of the tissue. Intense immunostaining for both VDIPEN- and NITEGE- neoepitopes was also detected in joint cartilage from patients with OA or RA. Cartilage in these specimens was significantly more degraded and high levels of staining for both epitopes was always seen in areas with extensive cartilage damage. The levels of extracted VDIPEN neoepitope relative to collagen or aggrecan in both OA and RA samples were similar to those seen in age-matched control specimens. Immunostaining for both types of aggrecan fragments was seen surrounding the cells but also further removed in the interterritorial matrix. In some regions of the tissue, both neoepitopes were found while in others only one was detected. Thus, generation and/or turnover of these specific catabolic aggrecan fragments is not necessarily coordinated. Our results are consistent with the presence in both normal and arthritic joint cartilage of proteolytic activity against aggrecan based on both classical MMPs and "aggrecanase."
PMCID: PMC508169  PMID: 9202061
8.  Aggrecanases and cartilage matrix degradation 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2003;5(2):94-103.
The loss of extracellular matrix macromolecules from the cartilage results in serious impairment of joint function. Metalloproteinases called 'aggrecanases' that cleave the Glu373–Ala374 bond of the aggrecan core protein play a key role in the early stages of cartilage destruction in rheumatoid arthritis and in osteoarthritis. Three members of the ADAMTS family of proteinases, ADAMTS-1, ADAMTS-4 and ADAMTS-5, have been identified as aggrecanases. Matrix metalloproteinases, which are also found in arthritic joints, cleave aggrecans, but at a distinct site from the aggrecanases (i.e. Asn341–Phe342). The present review discuss the enzymatic properties of the three known aggrecanases, the regulation of their activities, and their role in cartilage matrix breakdown during the development of arthritis in relation to the action of matrix metalloproteinases.
PMCID: PMC165039  PMID: 12718749
ADAMTS; chondrocytes; matrix metalloproteinases; osteoarthritis
9.  Matrix metalloproteinase protein expression profiles cannot distinguish between normal and early osteoarthritic synovial fluid 
Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are diseases which result in the degeneration of the joint surface articular cartilage. Matrix Metalloproteinases (MMPs) are enzymes that aid in the natural remodelling of tissues throughout the body including cartilage. However, some MMPs have been implicated in the progression of OA and RA as their expression levels and activation states can change dramatically with the onset of disease. Yet, it remains unknown if normal and arthritic joints demonstrate unique MMPs expression profiles, and if so, can the MMP expression profile be used to identify patients with early OA. In this study, the synovial fluid protein expression levels for MMPs 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 12 & 13, as well as those for the Tissue Inhibitors of MMPs (TIMPs) 1, 2, 3, & 4 were examined in highly characterized normal knee joints, and knee joints with clinically diagnosed OA (early and advanced) or RA. The purpose of this study was to determine if normal, OA, and RA patients exhibit unique expression profiles for a sub-set of MMPs, and if early OA patients have a unique MMP expression profile that could be used as an early diagnostic marker.
Synovial fluid was aspirated from stringently characterized normal knee joints, and in joints diagnosed with either OA (early and advanced) or RA. Multiplexing technology was employed to quantify protein expression levels for 8 MMPs and 4 TIMPs in the synovial fluid of 12 patients with early OA, 17 patients diagnosed with advanced OA, 15 with RA and 25 normal knee joints. Principle component analysis (PCA) was used to reveal which MMPs were most influential in the distinction between treatment groups. K – means clustering was used to verify the visual grouping of subjects via PCA.
Significant differences in the expression levels of MMPs and TIMPs were observed between normal and arthritic synovial fluids (with the exception of MMP 12). PCA demonstrated that MMPs 2, 8 & 9 can be used to effectively separate individuals diagnosed with advanced arthritis from early osteoarthritic and normal individuals, however, these MMP profiles do not separate early OA from normal synovial fluid. An apparent separation between advanced OA and RA subjects was also revealed through PCA. K-means clustering verified the presence of 3 clusters: normal joints clustered with early OA, and separate clusters of advanced OA or RA.
This study demonstrates that unique MMP and TIMP expression profiles are present within normal, advanced OA and RA synovial fluid. These MMP profiles can be used to distinguish advanced OA & RA synovial fluid from early OA & normal synovial fluid, and even between synovial fluid samples from OA and RA joints. Although this methodology cannot be used for the diagnosis of early OA, high throughput multiplex technology of MMPs and TIMPs in synovial fluid may prove useful in determining the severity of the disease state, and/or quantifying the response of individuals to disease interventions.
PMCID: PMC3532375  PMID: 22824140
10.  Inhibition of Histone Deacetylases Antagonized FGF2 and IL-1β Effects on MMP Expression in Human Articular Chondrocytes 
Fibroblast growth factor – 2 (FGF2) and interleukin – 1β IL-1β) stimulate the expression of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) in articular chondrocytes, which may contribute to cartilage degradation and development of osteoarthritis. Histone deacetylases (HDACs) have recently been implicated in the regulation of MMP gene expression. To investigate the functional involvement of HDACs in the signaling pathway of FGF2 and IL-1β, we examined the effects of HDAC inhibition on activities of FGF2 or IL-1β on gene expression of MMP-1, MMP-3, MMP-13, a disintegrin and metalloproteinase with thrombospondin motifs – 5 (ADAMTS5), collagen type II, and aggrecan. Human articular chondrocyte cultures were treated with FGF2 or IL-1β in the presence or absence of HDAC inhibitor (trichostatin A, TSA). Gene expression levels after treatments were assessed using quantitative real time PCR. Results showed that FGF2 and IL-1β both increased MMP-1 and -13 expression, while IL-1βalso increased MMP-3 mRNA levels. These effects were attenuated in the presence of TSA in a dose dependent manner. In contrast to the effects on MMPs, FGF2 decreased mRNA levels of ADAMTS–5, which was not affected by HDAC inhibition. FGF2, IL-1β, and TSA inhibited expression of aggrecan, while TSA also decreased mRNA levels of collagen type II. These findings showed that HDAC inhibition antagonized FGF2 and IL-1β induced MMP expression. Combination of FGF2 and the HDAC inhibitor decreases both anabolic and catabolic genes, which may slow the cartilage turnover and be beneficial for maintaining cartilage integrity.
PMCID: PMC3612426  PMID: 19107653
Fibroblast growth factor; interleukin –1β; histone deacetylase; matrix metalloproteinase; articular chondrocyte; trichostatin A
11.  Esculetin inhibits cartilage resorption induced by interleukin 1α in combination with oncostatin M 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2001;60(2):158-165.
OBJECTIVE—To determine if a new inhibitor, esculetin (EST), can block resorption of cartilage.
METHODS—Interleukin 1α (IL1α, 0.04-5 ng/ml) and oncostatin M (OSM, 0.4-50 ng/ml) were used to stimulate the release of proteoglycan and collagen from bovine nasal cartilage and human articular cartilage in explant culture. Proteoglycan and collagen loss were assessed by dimethylmethylene blue and hydroxyproline assays, respectively. Collagenase levels were measured by assay of bioactivity and by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The effects of EST on the expression of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP-1) in the transformed human chondrocyte cell line T/C28a4 were assessed by northern blot analysis. TIMP-1 protein levels were assayed by ELISA. The effect of EST on the MMP-1 promoter was assessed using a promoter-luciferase construct in transient transfection studies.
RESULTS—EST inhibited proteoglycan and collagen resorption in a dose dependent manner with significant decreases seen at 66 µM and 100 µM EST, respectively. Collagenolytic activity was significantly decreased in bovine nasal cartilage cultures. In human articular cartilage, EST also inhibited IL1α + OSM stimulated resorption and decreased MMP-1 levels. TIMP-1 levels were not altered compared with controls. In T/C28a4 chondrocytes the IL1α + OSM induced expression of MMP-1, MMP-3, and MMP-13 mRNA was reduced to control levels by 250 µM EST. TIMP-1 mRNA levels were unaffected by EST treatment. All cytokine stimulation of an MMP-1 luciferase-promoter construct was lost in the presence of the inhibitor.
CONCLUSION—EST inhibits degradation of bovine nasal cartilage and human articular cartilage stimulated to resorb with IL1α + OSM.

PMCID: PMC1753478  PMID: 11156550
12.  Fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 is principally responsible for fibroblast growth factor 2-induced catabolic activities in human articular chondrocytes 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(4):R130.
Cartilage degeneration driven by catabolic stimuli is a critical pathophysiological process in osteoarthritis (OA). We have defined fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF-2) as a degenerative mediator in adult human articular chondrocytes. Biological effects mediated by FGF-2 include inhibition of proteoglycan production, up-regulation of matrix metalloproteinase-13 (MMP-13), and stimulation of other catabolic factors. In this study, we identified the specific receptor responsible for the catabolic functions of FGF-2, and established a pathophysiological connection between the FGF-2 receptor and OA.
Primary human articular chondrocytes were cultured in monolayer (24 hours) or alginate beads (21 days), and stimulated with FGF-2 or FGF18, in the presence or absence of FGFR1 (FGF receptor 1) inhibitor. Proteoglycan accumulation and chondrocyte proliferation were assessed by dimethylmethylene blue (DMMB) assay and DNA assay, respectively. Expression of FGFRs (FGFR1 to FGFR4) was assessed by flow cytometry, immunoblotting, and quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR). The distinctive roles of FGFR1 and FGFR3 after stimulation with FGF-2 were evaluated using either pharmacological inhibitors or FGFR small interfering RNA (siRNA). Luciferase reporter gene assays were used to quantify the effects of FGF-2 and FGFR1 inhibitor on MMP-13 promoter activity.
Chondrocyte proliferation was significantly enhanced in the presence of FGF-2 stimulation, which was inhibited by the pharmacological inhibitor of FGFR1. Proteoglycan accumulation was reduced by 50% in the presence of FGF-2, and this reduction was successfully rescued by FGFR1 inhibitor. FGFR1 inhibitors also fully reversed the up-regulation of MMP-13 expression and promoter activity stimulated by FGF-2. Blockade of FGFR1 signaling by either chemical inhibitors or siRNA targeting FGFR1 rather than FGFR3 abrogated the up-regulation of matrix metalloproteinases 13 (MMP-13) and a disintegrin and metalloproteinase with a thrombospondin type 1 motif 5 (ADAMTS5), as well as down-regulation of aggrecan after FGF-2 stimulation. Flow cytometry, qPCR and immunoblotting analyses suggested that FGFR1 and FGFR3 were the major FGFR isoforms expressed in human articular chondrocytes. FGFR1 was activated more potently than FGFR3 upon FGF-2 stimulation. In osteoarthritic chondrocytes, FGFR3 was significantly down regulated (P < 0.05) with a concomitant increase in the FGFR1 to FGFR3 expression ratio (P < 0.05), compared to normal chondrocytes. Our results also demonstrate that FGFR3 was negatively regulated by FGF-2 at the transcriptional level through the FGFR1-ERK (extracellular signal-regulated kinase) signaling pathway in human articular chondrocytes.
FGFR1 is the major mediator with the degenerative potential in the presence of FGF-2 in human adult articular chondrocytes. FGFR1 activation by FGF-2 promotes catabolism and impedes anabolism. Disruption of the balance between FGFR1 and FGFR3 signaling ratio may contribute to the pathophysiology of OA.
PMCID: PMC3239372  PMID: 21835001
13.  Biological Effects of the Plant-derived Polyphenol Resveratrol in Human Articular Cartilage and Chondrosarcoma Cells 
Journal of Cellular Physiology  2012;227(10):3488-3497.
The natural phytoestrogen resveratrol (RSV) may have therapeutic potential for arthritic conditions. RSV is chondroprotective for articular cartilage in rabbit models for arthritis, but its biological effects on human articular cartilage and chondrosarcoma cells are unknown. Effects of RSV on human articular cartilage homeostasis were studied by assessing production of matrix-degrading enzymes (MMP-13, ADAMTS-4, and ADAMTS-5), as well as proteoglycan production and synthesis. The counteractions of RSV against catabolic factors (e.g., FGF-2 or IL-1β) were examined by in vitro and ex vivo using monolayer, three-dimensional alginate beads and cartilage explants cultures, respectively. RSV improves cell viability of articular chondrocytes and effectively antagonizes cartilage-degrading protease production that was initiated by catabolic and/or anti-anabolic cytokines in human articular chondrocytes. RSV significantly also enhances BMP7-promoted proteoglycan synthesis as assessed by 35S-sulfate incorporation. Protein-DNA interaction arrays suggest that RSV inhibits the activation of transcription factors involved in inflammation and cartilage catabolic signaling pathways, including direct downstream regulators of MAPK (e.g., AP-1, PEA3) and NFκB. RSV selectively compromises survival of human chondrosarcoma cells, but not primary articular chondrocytes, revealing cell-specific activity of RSV on non-tumorigenic versus tumor-derived cells. We propose that RSV exerts its chondroprotective functions, in part, by deactivating p53-induced apoptosis in human primary chondrocytes, but not human chondrosarcoma. Our findings suggest that RSV has potential as a unique biologic treatment for both prevention and treatment of cartilage degenerative diseases.
PMCID: PMC3330153  PMID: 22252971
articular cartilage; cartilage degeneration; regeneration; osteoarthritis; chondrosarcoma; resveratrol; matrix metalloprotease; MMP13; proteoglycan; cell survival; cancer
14.  Inhibition of interleukin 1‐induced matrix metalloproteinase 13 expression in human chondrocytes by interferon γ 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2006;66(6):782-789.
Despite well‐documented immunomodulation by interferon γ (IFNγ), its role and mechanism of regulation of matrix metalloproteinase 13 (MMP13) gene expression in human chondrocytes is unknown.
To investigate the ability and mechanism of IFNγ to suppress interleukin 1 (IL1)‐induced MMP13 expression in articular chondrocytes.
Human chondrocytes were treated with IFNγ or IL1β alone or in combination. MMP13 mRNA was analysed by semiquantitative reverse transcriptase‐PCR. MMP13 protein, phospho‐signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT1) and p44/42 mitogen‐activated protein kinase levels were measured by western blotting. MMP13 promoter luciferase, cytomegalovirus cyclic AMP response element‐binding protein (CBP)/p300 plasmids and STAT1 small interfering RNA (siRNA) were transfected by the calcium phosphate method. IFNγ receptor was also neutralised. Activator protein (AP) 1 activity was monitored by the TransAM transcription factor kit. STAT1‐CBP/p300 interaction was studied by immunoprecipitation.
IFNγ potently suppressed IL1‐induced expression of MMP13 and promoter activity. Blockade with neutralising IFNγ R1 antibody revealed that MMP13 inhibition by IFNγ is mediated by the IFN receptor. IFNγ‐stimulated activation of STAT1 was directly correlated with MMP13 suppression. Knockdown of the STAT1 gene by specific siRNA or its inhibition with fludarabine partially restored the IL1β induction of MMP13 expression and promoter activity. IFNγ did not alter AP1 binding ability but promoted physical interaction of STAT1 and CBP/p300 coactivator. p300 overexpression reversed IFNγ inhibition of endogenous MMP13 mRNA expression and exogenous MMP13 promoter activity.
IFNγ, through its receptor, activates STAT1, which binds with CBP/p300 coactivator, sequesters it from the cell system, and thus inhibits transcriptional induction of the MMP13 gene in chondrocytes. IFNγ and its signalling pathways could be targeted therapeutically for diminishing IL1‐induced cartilage degradation by MMP13 in patients with arthritis.
PMCID: PMC1954643  PMID: 17179173
15.  Basic Fibroblast Growth Factor Stimulates Matrix Metalloproteinase-13 via the Molecular Cross-talk between the Mitogen-activated Protein Kinases and Protein Kinase Cδ Pathways in Human Adult Articular Chondrocytes* 
The Journal of biological chemistry  2007;282(15):11110-11121.
Excessive release of basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) during loading and/or injury of the cartilage matrix may contribute to the onset or progression of osteoarthritis. This pathological role may be related to the ability of bFGF to decrease proteoglycan synthesis and to antagonize the activity of anabolic growth factors in cartilage such as insulin-like growth factor-1 and bone morphogenetic protein 7 (BMP7 or OP-1). Matrix metalloproteinase-13 (MMP-13), a catabolic cartilage-degrading enzyme, is dramatically up-regulated by inflammatory cytokines or by fibronectin fragments in articular chondrocytes. In this study, we investigated MMP-13 production by bFGF using human articular chondrocytes. Endogenous concentration of bFGF in synovial fluids collected from arthritis patients and asymptomatic subjects showed a good linear correlation with the endogenous levels of MMP-13. bFGF stimulation of MMP-13 was mediated at the transcriptional level and, at least in part, by stimulation of interleukin-1 production. Also, our findings suggest that bFGF stimulation of MMP-13 required the activation of multiple MAPKs (ERK, p38, and JNK) by bFGF, and more importantly, bFGF activation of protein kinase C (PKC) δ played a key role in the MMP-13 stimulation. Indeed, PKCδ is the only isoform associated with MMP-13 stimulation among the PKC isoforms tested. PKCδ controls the bFGF response by regulating multiple MAPK pathways. Our results suggest that PKCδ activation is a principal rate-limiting event in the bFGF-dependent stimulation of MMP-13 in human adult articular chondrocytes. We propose that deregulation of cross-talk between MAPK and PKCδ signaling may contribute to the etiology of osteoarthritis in human patients.
PMCID: PMC2895271  PMID: 17311929
16.  MMP-13 loss associated with impaired ECM remodelling disrupts chondrocyte differentiation by concerted effects on multiple regulatory factors 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2010;62(8):2370-2381.
To link MMP-13 activity and ECM remodeling to alterations in regulatory factors leading to a disruption in chondrocyte homeostasis.
Matrix-metalloproteinase-13 (MMP-13) expression was ablated in primary human chondrocytes by stable retrotransduction of short-hairpin RNAs. The effects of MMP-13 KD on key regulators of chondrocyte differentiation (Sox9, Runx2 and β-catenin), and angiogenesis (VEGF) were scored at the protein (immunohistochemistry or western blot) and RNA (real time PCR) levels in high density monolayer and micromass cultures under mineralizing conditions. Effects on cellular viability in conjunction with chondrocyte progression towards a hypertrophic-like state were assessed in micromass cultures. Alterations in Sox9 subcellular distribution were assessed by confocal microscopy in micromass cultures and also in OA cartilage.
Differentiation of control chondrocyte micromasses progressed up to a terminal phase, with calcium deposition in conjunction with reduced cell viability and scant ECM. MMP-13 knock-down (KD) impaired ECM remodeling and suppressed differentiation in conjunction with reduced levels of Runx2, β-catenin and VEGF. MMP-13 levels in vitro and ECM remodeling in vitro and in vivo were linked to changes in Sox9 sub-cellular localization. Sox9 was largely excluded from the nuclei of chondrocytes with MMP-13 remodeled or degraded ECM, and exhibited an intranuclear staining pattern in chondrocytes with impaired MMP-13 activity in vitro or with more intact ECM in vivo.
MMP-13 loss leads to a break-down in primary human articular chondrocyte differentiation by altering the expression of multiple regulatory factors.
PMCID: PMC2921033  PMID: 20506238
MMP-13; ECM remodeling; osteoarthritis; differentiation; shRNA retrovirus
17.  Thrombin Promotes Matrix Metalloproteinase-13 Expression through the PKCδ/c-Src/EGFR/PI3K/Akt/AP-1 Signaling Pathway in Human Chondrocytes 
Mediators of Inflammation  2013;2013:326041.
Thrombin is a key mediator of fibrin deposition, angiogenesis, and proinflammatory processes. Abnormalities in these processes are primary features of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Matrix metalloproteinase-13 (MMP-13) may contribute to the breakdown of articular cartilage during arthritis. However, the role of thrombin in MMP-13 production in chondrocytes is unknown. In this study, we investigated the intracellular signaling pathways involved in thrombin-induced MMP-13 expression in human chondrocytes. We found that stimulation with thrombin led to increased secretion of MMP-13 in cultured human chondrocytes. Further, this thrombin-induced MMP-13 production was reduced after transfection with siRNAs against protease activated receptors 1 and 3 (PAR1 and PAR3), but not with PAR4 siRNA. Treatment with specific inhibitors for PKCδ, c-Src, EGFR, PI3K, Akt, or AP-1 or with the corresponding siRNAs against these signaling proteins also abolished the thrombin-mediated increase in MMP-13 production in chondrocytes. Our results provide evidence that thrombin acts through the PAR1/PAR3 receptors and activates PKCδ and c-Src, resulting in EGFR transactivation and activation of PI3K, Akt, and finally AP-1 on the MMP-13 promoter, thereby contributing to cartilage destruction during arthritis.
PMCID: PMC3872103  PMID: 24385683
18.  Gene expression of matrix metalloproteinases 1, 3, and 9 by chondrocytes in osteoarthritic human knee articular cartilage is zone and grade specific 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1997;56(9):542-549.
OBJECTIVES—Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are thought to be major mediators of cartilage destruction. Osteoarthritis (OA) is characterised by cartilage degradation. This study explores gene expression of three MMPs in articular chondrocytes during the histological development of the cartilage lesion of OA.
METHODS—Biopsy specimens of human normal and OA cartilage, classified into four grades on the basis of histology, were probed for MMPs 1, 3, and 9 using 35S-labelled cDNA probes. The signal was measured at four different depths (zones) using an automated image analyser and compared with signal from sections probed with λDNA. Rheumatoid synovium was used as a positive control for MMP gene expression.
RESULTS—Rheumatoid tissue contained mRNA for all three MMPs. Expression in chondrocytes varied with the depth of the chondrocyte in the cartilage and the histomorphological extent of the OA changes. There was no detectable mRNA signal for these three MMPs in normal cartilage. In general, in OA, MMP-1 gene expression was greatest in the superficial cartilage in established disease. By contrast mRNAs for MMP-3 and 9 were expressed deeper in the cartilage, MMP-9 early in disease and MMP-3 with a biphasic pattern in early and late stage disease, most pronounced in the latter. This was a consequence of differential expression in single cells and chondrocyte clusters in late disease.
CONCLUSION—The data indicate that expression of genes for MMPs 1, 3, and 9 is differentially regulated in human articular chondrocytes and, in individual cells, is related to the depth of the chondrocyte below the cartilage surface and the nature and extent of the cartilage lesion.

PMCID: PMC1752435  PMID: 9370879
19.  Cytokine signaling-1 suppressor is inducible by IL-1beta and inhibits the catabolic effects of IL-1beta in chondrocytes: its implication in the paradoxical joint-protective role of IL-1beta 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2013;15(6):R191.
Although IL-1β is believed to be crucial in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis (OA), the IL-1β blockade brings no therapeutic benefit in human OA and results in OA aggravation in several animal models. We explored the role of a cytokine signaling 1 (SOCS1) suppressor as a regulatory modulator of IL-1β signaling in chondrocytes.
Cartilage samples were obtained from patients with knee OA and those without OA who underwent surgery for femur-neck fracture. SOCS1 expression in cartilage was assessed with immunohistochemistry. IL-1β-induced SOCS1 expression in chondrocytes was analyzed with quantitative polymerase chain reaction and immunoblot. The effect of SOCS1 on IL-1β signaling pathways and the synthesis of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and aggrecanase-1 was investigated in SOCS1-overexpressing or -knockdown chondrocytes.
SOCS1 expression was significantly increased in OA cartilage, especially in areas of severe damage (P < 0.01). IL-1β stimulated SOCS1 mRNA expression in a dose-dependent pattern (P < 0.01). The IL-1β-induced production of MMP-1, MMP-3, MMP-13, and ADAMTS-4 (aggrecanase-1, a disintegrin and metalloproteinase with thrombospondin motifs 4) was affected by SOCS1 overexpression or knockdown in both SW1353 cells and primary human articular chondrocytes (all P values < 0.05). The inhibitory effects of SOCS1 were mediated by blocking p38, c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), and nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) activation, and by downregulating transforming growth factor-β-activated kinase 1 (TAK1) expression.
Our results show that SOCS1 is induced by IL1-β in OA chondrocytes and suppresses the IL-1β-induced synthesis of matrix-degrading enzymes by inhibiting IL-1β signaling at multiple levels. It suggests that the IL-1β-inducible SOCS1 acts as a negative regulator of the IL-1β response in OA cartilage.
PMCID: PMC3979110  PMID: 24238405
20.  Simvastatin reduces MMP-3 level in interleukin 1ß stimulated human chondrocyte culture 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2004;63(7):867-869.
Objectives: Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) produced by chondrocytes play a role in the development of cartilage degradation in joint diseases. Moreover, inhibition of MMP secretion by macrophages accumulating in arteriosclerotic plaques would account for the plaque stabilising activity of statins in cardiovascular patients. Recently, simvastatin has been shown to inhibit both developing and established collagen induced arthritis in a murine model. We thus decided to investigate the effect of simvastatin on the production of MMP-3 from cultured interleukin (IL)1 stimulated human chondrocytes.
Methods: Cells from human cartilage, obtained from eight subjects with osteoarthritis undergoing surgery for total hip prostheses, were cultured in the presence of different concentrations of simvastatin (5, 10, and 50 µmol/l) with and without IL1ß (5 ng/ml). MMP-3 level was measured in the culture medium after 48 h of incubation.
Results: IL1ß stimulation of chondrocytes increased MMP-3 concentration in the cultures (from 0.69 (0.09) to 1.94 (0.12) ng/µg protein). Incubation with simvastatin was associated with a dose dependent reduction in MMP-3 increase, both in the presence (–15%, –17%, and –26% with 5, 10, and 50 µmol/l, respectively) and in the absence (–32% with 50 µmol/l) of IL1ß. The inhibiting effect of simvastatin was completely reversed by the addition of mevalonate (100 µmol/l) or farnesol (10 µmol/l).
Conclusions: Our data show that simvastatin, by blocking HMGCoA-reductase and interfering in the prenylation processes, is able to inhibit MMP-3 production from cultured human chondrocytes that have been either unstimulated or stimulated with IL1ß, thus suggesting a possible additional mechanism for statins in counteracting chronic joint disease related cartilage damage.
PMCID: PMC1755052  PMID: 15194586
21.  Promotion of the articular cartilage proteoglycan degradation by T-2 toxin and selenium protective effect*  
Objective: To identify the relationship between T-2 toxin and Kashin-Beck disease (KBD), the effects of T-2 toxin on aggrecan metabolism in human chondrocytes and cartilage were investigated in vitro. Methods: Chondrocytes were isolated from human articular cartilage and cultured in vitro. Hyaluronic acid (HA), soluble CD44 (sCD44), IL-1β and TNF-α levels in supernatants were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). CD44 content in chondrocyte membrane was determined by flow cytometry (FCM). CD44, hyaluronic acid synthetase-2 (HAS-2) and aggrecanases mRNA levels in chondrocytes were determined using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Immunocytochemical method was used to investigate expressions of BC-13, 3-B-3(−) and 2-B-6 epitopes in the cartilage reconstructed in vitro. Results: T-2 toxin inhibited CD44, HAS-2, and aggrecan mRNA expressions, but promoted aggrecanase-2 mRNA expression. Meanwhile, CD44 expression was found to be the lowest in the chondrocytes cultured with T-2 toxin and the highest in control plus selenium group. In addition, ELISA results indicated that there were higher sCD44, IL-1β and TNF-α levels in T-2 toxin group. Similarly, higher HA levels were also observed in T-2 toxin group using radioimmunoprecipitation assay (RIPA). Furthermore, using monoclonal antibodies BC-13, 3-B-3 and 2-B-6, strong positive immunostaining was found in the reconstructed cartilage cultured with T-2 toxin, whereas no positive staining or very weak staining was observed in the cartilage cultured without T-2 toxin. Selenium could partly inhibit the effects of T-2 toxin above. Conclusion: T-2 toxin could inhibit aggrecan synthesis, promote aggrecanases and pro-inflammatory cytokines production, and consequently induce aggrecan degradation in chondrocytes. These will perturb metabolism balance between aggrecan synthesis and degradation in cartilage, inducing aggrecan loss in the end, which may be the initiation of the cartilage degradation.
PMCID: PMC2170465  PMID: 18196609
T-2 toxin; Kashin-Beck disease (KBD); Aggrecan; IL-1β; TNF-α; Aggrecanase; Hyaluronic acid (HA); CD44
22.  Dual effects of 17ß-oestradiol on interleukin 1ß-induced proteoglycan degradation in chondrocytes 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2004;63(2):191-199.
Objective: To determine whether 17ß-oestradiol (E2) modulates interleukin (IL) 1ß-induced proteoglycan degradation in chondrocytes, and to analyse the part played by metalloproteinases (MMPs) in this process.
Methods: Primary cultured rabbit articular chondrocytes were prepared and treated with 10 ng/ml IL1ß combined or not with 0.1–10 nM E2. Neosynthesised proteoglycans (PGs) were evaluated after incorporation of [35SO4]sulphate and further analysed after chromatography on a Sepharose 2B column. Chondrocyte mRNA levels of aggrecan, MMP-1, -3, -13, and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP-1) were studied by northern blot. MMP-1 activity was measured by zymography. MMP-1 gene transcription was studied by transient transfection of chondrocytes with an MMP-1-luciferase construct.
Results: E2 modulated the IL1ß-induced total sulphated PGs in rabbit articular chondrocytes, which decreased as the E2 concentration was increased. At a low concentration (0.1 nmol/l) E2 counteracts the IL1ß-induced decrease in sulphated PG, while at high concentration (10 nmol/l) E2 enhances the IL1ß effects. A biphasic E2 effect was also observed on IL1ß-induced disaggregation of PG, 53–58 kDa gelatinolytic activity, and MMP-1, -3, and -13 mRNA levels. In contrast, E2 did not modify the level of aggrecan mRNA and had no effect on TIMP-1 mRNA expression. Finally, simultaneous addition of IL1ß and E2 (0.1–10 nmol/l) did not modify IL1ß-induced MMP-1-luciferase activity, suggesting that E2 effects probably occur at the post-transcriptional level of MMP gene expression.
Conclusion: Oestrogen concentration may have an inverse effect on IL1ß stimulated proteoglycan degradation and MMP production by chondrocytes.
PMCID: PMC1754890  PMID: 14722210
23.  Mithramycin downregulates proinflammatory cytokine-induced matrix metalloproteinase gene expression in articular chondrocytes 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2005;7(4):R777-R783.
Interleukin-1 (IL-1), IL-17 and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) are the main proinflammatory cytokines implicated in cartilage breakdown by matrix metalloproteinase (MMPs) in arthritic joints. We studied the impact of an anti-neoplastic antibiotic, mithramycin, on the induction of MMPs in chondrocytes. MMP-3 and MMP-13 gene expression induced by IL-1β, TNF-α and IL-17 was downregulated by mithramycin in human chondrosarcoma SW1353 cells and in primary human and bovine femoral head chondrocytes. Constitutive and IL-1-stimulated MMP-13 levels in bovine and human cartilage explants were also suppressed. Mithramycin did not significantly affect the phosphorylation of the mitogen-activated protein kinases, extracellular signal-regulated kinase, p38 and c-Jun N-terminal kinase. Despite effective inhibition of MMP expression by mithramycin and its potential to reduce cartilage degeneration, the agent might work through multiple unidentified mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC1175029  PMID: 15987479
24.  Enhanced Expression of Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloproteinases-4 Gene in Human Osteoarthritic Synovial Membranes and Its Differential Regulation by Cytokines in Chondrocytes 
Tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs) are multi-functional proteins with matrix metalloproteinases-inhibiting activities. We studied expression of anti-inflammatory, TIMP-4 gene in human joint tissues and its regulation by arthritis-associated cytokines.
TIMP-4 RNA expression originating from synovial fibroblasts was significantly (2.4 fold; p<0.001) elevated in 8 osteoarthritic (OA) versus 7 non-arthritic synovial membranes. Non-arthritic and OA femoral head and knee chondrocytes displayed substantial but variably constitutive expression of the TIMP-4 mRNA. In articular chondrocytes, transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β1) and oncostatin M (OSM) upregulated TIMP-4 RNA and protein expression while interleukin-1 (IL-1β) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) did not, suggesting differential regulation by arthritis-associated cytokines. Interleukin 17 (IL-17) mildly induced TIMP-4 mRNA. TGF-β1 induction of TIMP-4 expression was partly inhibited by ERK pathway and Sp1 transcription factor inhibitors.
Enhanced TIMP-4 gene expression in OA synovial membranes and cartilage may be due to induction by TGF-β1, OSM and IL-17, suggesting its pathophysiological role in tissue remodeling in human joints. TGF-β1 induction of TIMP-4 expression is mediated partly by ERK pathway and Sp1 transcription factor.
PMCID: PMC3245407  PMID: 22216069
Osteoarthritis; synovium; chondrocytes; TIMP-4; cytokines.
25.  Hyaluronan inhibits expression of ADAMTS4 (aggrecanase-1) in human osteoarthritic chondrocytes 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2009;68(6):1051-1058.
Intra-articular injection of hyaluronan (HA) has been suggested to have a disease-modifying effect in osteoarthritis, but little is known about the possible mechanisms.
To investigate the effects of HA species of different molecular mass, including 800 kDa (HA800) and 2700 kDa (HA2700), on the expression of aggrecanases (ie, ADAMTS species), which play a key role in aggrecan degradation.
The effects of HA species on the expression of ADAMTS1, 4, 5, 8, 9 and 15 in interleukin 1α (IL1α)-stimulated osteoarthritic chondrocytes were studied by reverse transcription PCR and real-time PCR. Expression of ADAMTS4 protein and aggrecanase activity and signal transduction pathways of IL1, CD44 and intracellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM1) were examined by immunoblotting.
IL1α treatment of chondrocytes induced ADAMTS4, and HA800 and HA2700 significantly decreased IL1α-induced expression of ADAMTS4 mRNA and protein. IL1α-stimulated aggrecanase activity in osteoarthritic chondrocytes was reduced by treatment with HA2700 or transfection of small interfering RNA for ADAMTS4. A similar result was obtained when HA2700 was added to explant cultures of osteoarthritic cartilage. HA2700 neither directly inhibited nor bound to ADAMTS4. Downregulation of ADAMTS4 expression by HA2700 was attenuated by treatment of IL1α-treated chondrocytes with antibodies to CD44 and/or ICAM1. The increased phosphorylation of IL1 receptor-associated kinase-1 and extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase1/2 induced by the IL1α treatment was downregulated by enhanced IRAK-M expression after HA2700 treatment.
These data suggest that HA2700 suppresses aggrecan degradation by downregulating IL1α-induced ADAMTS4 expression through the CD44 and ICAM1 signalling pathways in osteoarthritic chondrocytes.
PMCID: PMC2674548  PMID: 18662930

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