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J Orthop Res. 2001 Nov;19(6):1122-30.

Mechanisms of chondrocyte adhesion to cartilage: role of beta1-integrins, CD44, and annexin V.

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  • 1Department of Bioengineering and Institute for Biomedical Engineering, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093-0412, USA.


The initial adhesion of transplanted chondrocytes to surrounding host cartilage may be important in the repair of articular defects. Adhesion may position cells to secrete molecules that fill the defect and integrate repair tissue with host tissue. While chondrocytes are known to become increasingly adherent to cartilage with time, the molecular basis for this is unknown. The objective of this study was to investigate the role of beta1-integrin, CD44, and annexin V receptors in chondrocyte adhesion to cartilage. Chondrocytes were cultured in high density monolayer, released with trypsin, and allowed to recover in suspension for 2 h at 37 degrees C. Under these conditions, flow cytometry analysis showed that chondrocytes expressed beta1-integrins, CD44, and annexin V. In a rapid screening assay to assess chondrocyte adhesion to cartilage, cell detachment decreased from 79% at 10 min following transplantation to 10% at 320 min. Treatment of cells with a monoclonal antibody to block beta1-integrins significantly increased chondrocyte detachment from cartilage compared to untreated controls. Similarly, results from a parallel-plate shear flow adhesion assay showed that blocking beta1-integrins significantly increased chondrocyte detachment from cartilage compared to untreated controls at each level of applied shear (0-70 Pa). In both assays, treatment of cells with reagents that block CD44 (hyaluronan oligosaccharides or monoclonal Ab IM7) or annexin V (polyclonal Ab #8958) had no detectable effect on adhesion. With cartilage treated with chondroitinase ABC, blocking beta1-integrins also increased chondrocyte detachment, while blocking CD44 and annexin V also had no detectable effect. Under the conditions studied here, beta1-integrins appear to mediate chondrocyte adhesion to a cut cartilage surface. Delineation of the mechanisms of adhesion may have clinical implications by allowing cell manipulations or matrix treatments to enhance chondrocyte adhesion and retention at a defect site.

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