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Matrix Biol. 1999 Aug;18(4):343-55.

beta-Integrin-collagen interaction reduces chondrocyte apoptosis.

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  • 1Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Science Centre, and Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto, Canada.


We have observed that the spent culture media in suspended chondrocyte cultures is essential for the survival of the cells, since complete change of the spent media induces severe programmed cell death (apoptosis). Moreover, we showed that extracellular matrix (ECM) molecules in the culture media provide vital chondrocyte-matrix interactions; when media are changed, cells are deprived of matrix molecules and undergo apoptosis. In this paper we report that interaction with collagen, a ubiquitous extracellular matrix molecule, is essential for chondrocyte survival. Such an interaction causes chondrocyte aggregation and reduces the level of chondrocyte apoptosis. Hyaluronan, an abundant ECM molecule, can influence the effects of collagen by preventing chondrocyte aggregation. Degradation of hyaluronan with hyaluronidase results in chondrocyte aggregation, and this reduces the level of chondrocyte apoptosis. Experiments with an antibody to integrin beta1 suggest that the collagen-chondrocyte interactions are mediated through integrin beta1, and these interactions may protect chondrocytes from apoptosis. We hypothesize that hyaluronan binds aggrecan and link protein, forming stable ternary complexes, which interact with the chondrocyte surface, perhaps via CD44, and thus maintains a stable chondrocyte-matrix network.

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