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J Immunol. 2000 Sep 15;165(6):3402-10.

The induction of cell death in human osteoarthritis chondrocytes by nitric oxide is related to the production of prostaglandin E2 via the induction of cyclooxygenase-2.

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  • 1Unité de Recherche en Arthrose, Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal, Hôpital Notre-Dame, Montréal, Québec, Canada.


There is increasing evidence suggesting that chondrocyte death may contribute to the progression of osteoarthritis (OA). This study focused on the characterization of signaling cascade during NO-induced cell death in human OA chondrocytes. The NO generator, sodium nitroprusside (SNP), promoted chondrocyte death in association with DNA fragmentation, caspase-3 activation, and down-regulation of Bcl-2. Both caspase-3 inhibitor Z-Asp(OCH3)-Glu(OCH3)-Val-Asp(OCH3)-CH2F and caspase-9 inhibitor Z-Leu-Glu(OCH3)-His-Asp(OCH3)-CH2F prevented the chondrocyte death. Blocking the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway by the mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 1/2 inhibitor PD98059 or p38 kinase inhibitor SB202190 also inhibited the SNP-mediated cell death, suggesting possible requirements of both extracellular signal-related protein kinase 1/2 and p38 kinase for the NO-induced cell death. Furthermore, the selective inhibition of cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 by NS-398 or the inhibition of COX-1/COX-2 by indomethacin blocked the SNP-induced cell death. The chondrocyte death induced by SNP was associated with an overexpression of COX-2 protein (as determined by Western blotting) and an increase in PGE2 release. PD98059 and SB202190, but neither Z-DEVD FMK nor Z-LEHD FMK completely inhibited the SNP-mediated PGE2 production. Analysis of interactions between PGE2 and the cell death showed that PGE2 enhanced the SNP-mediated cell death, whereas PGE2 alone did not induce the chondrocyte death. These data indicate that NO-induced chondrocyte death signaling includes PGE2 production via COX-2 induction and suggest that both extracellular signal-related protein kinase 1/2 and p38 kinase pathways are upstream signaling of the PGE2 production. The results also demonstrate that exogenous PGE2 may sensitize human OA chondrocytes to the cell death induced by NO.

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