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1.  Mechanical Stress and ATP Synthesis are coupled by Mitochondrial Oxidants in Articular Cartilage 
Metabolic adaptation of articular cartilage under joint loading is evident and matrix synthesis seems to be critically tied to ATP. Chondrocytes utilize the glycolytic pathway for energy requirements but seem to require mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) to sustain ATP synthesis. The role of ROS in regulating ATP reserves under a mechanically active environment is not clear. It is believed that physiological strains cause deformation of the mitochondria, potentially releasing ROS for energy production. We hypothesized that mechanical loading stimulates ATP synthesis via mitochondrial release of ROS. Bovine osteochondral explants were dynamically loaded at 0.5Hz with amplitude of 0.25MPa for 1 Hour. Cartilage response to mechanical loading was assessed by imaging with dihydroethidium (ROS indicator) and a Luciferase based ATP assay. Electron transport inhibitor rotenone and mitochondrial ROS scavenger MitoQ significantly suppressed mechanically induced ROS production and ATP synthesis. Our findings indicate that mitochondrial ROS are produced as a result of physiological mechanical strains. Taken together with our previous findings of ROS involvement in blunt impact injuries, mitochondrial ROS are important contributors to cartilage metabolic adaptation and their precise role in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis warrants further investigation.
PMCID: PMC3678272  PMID: 22930474
Articular Cartilage; Oxidants; Reactive Oxygen Species; Mechanical stress; Glycolysis
Articular cartilage degeneration in osteoarthritis has been linked to abnormal mechanical stresses that are known to cause chondrocyte apoptosis and metabolic derangement in in vitro models. Evidence implicating oxidative damage as the immediate cause of these harmful effects suggests that the anti-oxidant defenses of chondrocytes might influence their tolerance for mechanical injury. Based on evidence that anti-oxidant defenses in many cell types are stimulated by moderate oxidant exposure, we hypothesized that oxidant pre-conditioning would reduce acute chondrocyte death and proteoglycan depletion in cartilage explants after exposure to abnormal mechanical stresses. Porcine cartilage explants were treated every 48 hours with tert-butyl hydrogen peroxide (tBHP) at non-lethal concentrations (25, 100, 250, 500 µM) for a varying number of times (1, 2 or 4) prior to a bout of unconfined axial compression (5 MPa, 1 Hz, 1800 cycles). When compared with untreated controls, tBHP had significant positive effects on post-compression viability, lactate production, and proteoglycan losses. Overall, the most effective regime was 100 µM tBHP applied 4 times. RNA analysis revealed significant effects of 100 µM tBHP on gene expression. Catalase, hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha (HIF-1α), and glyceraldehyde 6-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) were significantly increased relative to untreated controls in explants treated 4 times with 100 µM tBHP, a regime that also resulted in a significant decrease in matrix metalloproteinase-3 (MMP-3) expression. These findings demonstrate that repeated exposure of cartilage to sub-lethal concentrations of peroxide can moderate the acute effects of mechanical stress, a conclusion supported by evidence of peroxide-induced changes in gene expression that could render chondrocytes more resistant to oxidative damage.
PMCID: PMC3708667  PMID: 20058262
Cartilage; mechanical stress; oxidant
Irregular bone remodeling is associated with a number of bone diseases such as osteoporosis and multiple myeloma. Computational and mathematical modeling can aid in therapy and treatment as well as understanding fundamental biology. Different approaches to modeling give insight into different aspects of a phenomena so it is useful to have an arsenal of various computational and mathematical models. Here we develop a mathematical representation of bone remodeling that can effectively describe many aspects of the complicated geometries and spatial behavior observed.
There is a sharp interface between bone and marrow regions. Also the surface of bone moves in and out, i.e. in the normal direction, due to remodeling. Based on these observations we employ the use of a level-set function to represent the spatial behavior of remodeling. We elaborate on a temporal model for osteoclast and osteoblast population dynamics to determine the change in bone mass which influences how the interface between bone and marrow changes.
We exhibit simulations based on our computational model that show the motion of the interface between bone and marrow as a consequence of bone remodeling. The simulations show that it is possible to capture spatial behavior of bone remodeling in complicated geometries as they occur in vitro and in vivo.
By employing the level set approach it is possible to develop computational and mathematical representations of the spatial behavior of bone remodeling. By including in this formalism further details, such as more complex cytokine interactions and accurate parameter values, it is possible to obtain simulations of phenomena related to bone remodeling with spatial behavior much as in vitro and in vivo. This makes it possible to perform in silica experiments more closely resembling experimental observations.
PMCID: PMC3708700  PMID: 22901065
Bone remodeling; level-set equation; cytokines; osteoclast; osteoblast
To develop a method for repeated same-site measurement of mechanical properties suitable for the detection of degenerative changes in a biologically-active explant model after a single blunt impact injury.
Focal blunt impact injuries to articular surfaces lead to local cartilage degeneration and loss of mechanical properties. We employed a repeated measurement methodology to determine variations in mechanical same-site properties before and after injury in living cartilage with the hypothesis that normalization with initial mechanical properties may provide a clearer evaluation of impact effects and improve our understanding of the biologic responses to impact injury.
Materials and Methods
Bovine osteochondral explants were cultured for up to 14 days after impact injury. Indentation tests were performed before and after impact injury to assess relative changes in mechanical properties.
Creep strain increased significantly in impacted explants after 7 days and in both impacted and control explants after 14 days. Further analysis at 14 days revealed decreases in stretch factor β, creep time constant and local compressive modulus.
A repeated measures methodology reliably detected changes in mechanical behavior viable osteochondral explants after a single impact injury.
PMCID: PMC3684069  PMID: 22204121
5.  Reaction-Diffusion-Delay Model for EPO/TNF-α Interaction in articular cartilage lesion abatement 
Biology Direct  2012;7:9.
Injuries to articular cartilage result in the development of lesions that form on the surface of the cartilage. Such lesions are associated with articular cartilage degeneration and osteoarthritis. The typical injury response often causes collateral damage, primarily an effect of inflammation, which results in the spread of lesions beyond the region where the initial injury occurs.
Results and discussion
We present a minimal mathematical model based on known mechanisms to investigate the spread and abatement of such lesions. The first case corresponds to the parameter values listed in Table 1, while the second case has parameter values as in Table 2. In particular we represent the "balancing act" between pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines that is hypothesized to be a principal mechanism in the expansion properties of cartilage damage during the typical injury response. We present preliminary results of in vitro studies that confirm the anti-inflammatory activities of the cytokine erythropoietin (EPO). We assume that the diffusion of cytokines determine the spatial behavior of injury response and lesion expansion so that a reaction diffusion system involving chemical species and chondrocyte cell state population densities is a natural way to represent cartilage injury response. We present computational results using the mathematical model showing that our representation is successful in capturing much of the interesting spatial behavior of injury associated lesion development and abatement in articular cartilage. Further, we discuss the use of this model to study the possibility of using EPO as a therapy for reducing the amount of inflammation induced collateral damage to cartilage during the typical injury response.
Model Parameter Values for Results in Figure 5
Model Parameter Values for Results in Figure 6
The mathematical model presented herein suggests that not only are anti-inflammatory cy-tokines, such as EPO necessary to prevent chondrocytes signaled by pro-inflammatory cytokines from entering apoptosis, they may also influence how chondrocytes respond to signaling by pro-inflammatory cytokines.
This paper has been reviewed by Yang Kuang, James Faeder and Anna Marciniak-Czochra.
PMCID: PMC3356234  PMID: 22353555
6.  Selection of reference genes for normalization of quantitative real-time PCR in organ culture of the rat and rabbit intervertebral disc 
BMC Research Notes  2011;4:162.
The accuracy of quantitative real-time RT-PCR (qRT-PCR) is often influenced by experimental artifacts, resulting in erroneous expression profiles of target genes. The practice of employing normalization using a reference gene significantly improves reliability and its applicability to molecular biology. However, selection of an ideal reference gene(s) is of critical importance to discern meaningful results. The aim of this study was to evaluate the stability of seven potential reference genes (Actb, GAPDH, 18S rRNA, CycA, Hprt1, Ywhaz, and Pgk1) and identify most stable gene(s) for application in tissue culture research using the rat and rabbit intervertebral disc (IVD).
In vitro, four genes (Hprt1, CycA, GAPDH, and 18S rRNA) in rat IVD tissue and five genes (CycA, Hprt1, Actb, Pgk1, and Ywhaz) in rabbit IVD tissue were determined as most stable for up to 14 days in culture. Pair-wise variation analysis indicated that combination of Hprt1 and CycA in rat and the combination of Hprt1, CycA, and Actb in rabbit may most stable reference gene candidates for IVD tissue culture.
Our results indicate that Hprt1 and CycA are the most stable reference gene candidates for rat and rabbit IVD culture studies. In rabbit IVD, Actb could be an additional gene employed in conjunction with Hprt1 and CycA. Selection of optimal reference gene candidate(s) should be a pertinent exercise before employment of PCR outcome measures for biomedical research.
PMCID: PMC3118343  PMID: 21615931

Results 1-6 (6)