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J Biol Chem. 2003 Mar 14;278(11):9691-7. Epub 2002 Dec 18.

Differentiation status-dependent regulation of cyclooxygenase-2 expression and prostaglandin E2 production by epidermal growth factor via mitogen-activated protein kinase in articular chondrocytes.

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  • 1Department of Life Science, National Research Laboratory, Kwangju Institute of Science and Technology, Gwangju 500-712, Korea.


Although large amounts of epidermal growth factor (EGF) are found in the synovial fluids of arthritic cartilage, the role of EGF in arthritis is not clearly understood. This study investigated the effect of EGF on differentiation and on inflammatory responses such as cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression and prostaglandin E(2) (PGE(2)) production in articular chondrocytes. EGF caused a loss of differentiated chondrocyte phenotype as demonstrated by inhibition of type II collagen expression and proteoglycan synthesis. EGF also induced COX-2 expression and PGE(2) production. EGF-induced dedifferentiation was caused by EGF receptor-mediated activation of extracellular signal-regulated protein kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) but not p38 kinase, whereas the activation of both ERK1/2 and p38 kinase was necessary for COX-2 expression and PGE(2) production. Neither the inhibition of COX-2 expression and PGE(2) production nor the addition of exogenous PGE(2) affected EGF-induced dedifferentiation. However, COX-2 expression and PGE(2) production were significantly enhanced in chondrocytes that were dedifferentiated by serial subculture, and EGF also potentiated COX-2 expression and PGE(2) production, although these cells were less sensitive to EGF. Dedifferentiation-induced COX-2 expression and PGE(2) production were mediated by ERK1/2 and p38 kinase signaling. Our results indicate that EGF in articular chondrocytes stimulates COX-2 expression and PGE(2) production via ERK and p38 kinase signaling in association with differentiation status.

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