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      Activation of the P38/CREB/MMP13 axis is associated with osteoarthritis

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          Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common joint disease characterized by the degradation of articular cartilage and joint inflammation. Interleukin-1ß induces P38/cAMP response element binding protein (CREB) pathway activation, resulting in increased expression of matrix metallopeptidase-13 (MMP13) in chondrocytes. However, the role of the P38/CREB/MMP13 axis is unclear in the progression of OA. In this study, we aimed to answer the following questions: (1) how does the P38/CREB/MMP13 axis in cartilage from patients with OA compare with control specimens? (2) Can the P38 agonist anisomycin (ANS) induce mouse OA?

          Materials and methods

          Surgical specimens of human cartilage were divided into OA and control groups. Surgical specimens of mouse cartilage were divided into control and ANS-induced groups. Safranin O staining of the cartilage tissues was performed to evaluate the extracellular matrix. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction was performed using these tissues to investigate messenger RNA expressions of type II collagen, aggrecan, MMP13, and ADAM metallopeptidase with thrombospondin type 1 motif 5. Phosphorylated (p)-P38, p-CREB, and MMP13 were evaluated by Western blot analysis. Anisomycin was used to activate P38, and p-P38, p-CREB, and MMP13 were evaluated by immunofluorescence and Western blot analysis.


          Safranin O staining showed that the extracellular matrix degraded in humans with OA and ANS-induced mouse cartilage samples. The expressions of p-P38, p-CREB, and MMP13 were all upregulated in osteoarthritic cartilage or anisomycin-induced chondrocytes, suggesting that the P38/CREB/MMP13 axis may play a role in the progression of OA.


          The P38/CREB/MMP13 axis is active in osteoarthritic chondrocytes and may cause the degeneration of cartilage. Effective new therapy directed against this pathway could be developed.

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          Most cited references 29

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          Osteoarthritis cartilage histopathology: grading and staging.

          Current osteoarthritis (OA) histopathology assessment methods have difficulties in their utility for early disease, as well as their reproducibility and validity. Our objective was to devise a more useful method to assess OA histopathology that would have wide application for clinical and experimental OA assessment and would become recognized as the standard method. An OARSI Working Group deliberated on principles, standards and features for an OA cartilage pathology assessment system. Using current knowledge of the pathophysiology of OA morphologic features, a proposed system was presented at OARSI 2000. Subsequently, this was widely circulated for comments amongst experts in OA pathology. An OA cartilage pathology assessment system based on six grades, which reflect depth of the lesion and four stages reflecting extent of OA over the joint surface was developed. The OARSI cartilage OA histopathology grading system appears consistent and simple to apply. Further studies are required to confirm the system's utility.
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            Matrix metalloproteinases: role in arthritis.

            The irreversible destruction of the cartilage, tendon, and bone that comprise synovial joints is the hallmark of both rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA). While cartilage is made up of proteoglycans and type II collagen, tendon and bone are composed primarily of type I collagen. RA is an autoimmune disease afflicting numerous joints throughout the body; in contrast, OA develops in a small number of joints, usually resulting from chronic overuse or injury. In both diseases, inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 beta) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) stimulate the production of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), enzymes that can degrade all components of the extracellular matrix. The collagenases, MMP-1 and MMP-13, have predominant roles in RA and OA because they are rate limiting in the process of collagen degradation. MMP-1 is produced primarily by the synovial cells that line the joints, and MMP-13 is a product of the chondrocytes that reside in the cartilage. In addition to collagen, MMP-13 also degrades the proteoglycan molecule, aggrecan, giving it a dual role in matrix destruction. Expression of other MMPs such as MMP-2, MMP-3 and MMP-9, is also elevated in arthritis and these enzymes degrade non-collagen matrix components of the joints. Significant effort has been expended in attempts to design effective inhibitors of MMP activity and/or synthesis with the goal of curbing connective tissues destruction within the joints. To date, however, no effective clinical inhibitors exist. Increasing our knowledge of the crystal structures of these enzymes and of the signal transduction pathways and molecular mechanisms that control MMP gene expression may provide new opportunities for the development of therapeutics to prevent the joint destruction seen in arthritis.
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              Primary culture and phenotyping of murine chondrocytes.

              The culture of chondrocytes is one of the most powerful tools for exploring the intracellular and molecular features of chondrocyte differentiation and activation. However, chondrocytes tend to dedifferentiate into fibroblasts when they are subcultured, which is a major problem. This protocol, involving primary cultures to limit dedifferentiation, describes two different methods for culturing chondrocytes of different anatomical origins (articular and costal chondrocytes, both of which represent hyaline cartilage) from mice. Mice are of particular interest for cellular and molecular studies, as many tools suitable for use in mice are available. In addition, rapid development of transgenic and gene-targeted mice provides powerful instruments for biological studies. The protocol can be divided into four stages: isolation of cartilage (15 min per animal), isolation of chondrocytes (2 h extended overnight), seeding of chondrocytes (1 h 30 min) and growth in culture (6 d). To obtain confluency of chondrocytes using this protocol takes 7 d. Methods for phenotyping chondrocytes are also provided.

                Author and article information

                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                03 July 2019
                : 13
                : 2195-2204
                [1 ]Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital, Medical College of Zhejiang University, Key Laboratory of Musculoskeletal System Degeneration and Regeneration Translational Research of Zhejiang Province , Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province 310016, People’s Republic of China
                [2 ]Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, First Affiliated Hospital of Jiaxing University , Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province 314000, People’s Republic of China
                [3 ]Orthopedics Department, Taizhou Bo Ai Hospital , Taizhou, Zhejiang Province 318050, People’s Republic of China
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Xiangqian Fang; Peihua ShiDepartment of Orthopaedic Surgery, Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital, Medical College of Zhejiang University, Key Laboratory of Musculoskeletal System Degeneration and Regeneration Translational Research of Zhejiang Province , 3 East Qingchun Road, Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province310016, People’s Republic of ChinaTel +86 5 718 600 6667Fax +86 5 718 604 4817Email 3194042@ 123456zju.edu.cn ; peihua_shi@ 123456zju.edu.cn

                These authors contributed equally to this work

                © 2019 Ji et al.

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                Page count
                Figures: 3, Tables: 3, References: 33, Pages: 10
                Original Research

                Pharmacology & Pharmaceutical medicine

                degenerative joint disease, creb, anisomycin, mice


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