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Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2003 Apr;11(4):278-84.

Localization of bone morphogenetic protein-2 in human osteoarthritic cartilage and osteophyte.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Osaka National Hospital, Osaka, Japan.



To examine the localization of bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-2 mRNA and protein in human osteoarthritic (OA) articular cartilage and osteophyte.


Five normal, four growing and 14 OA human cartilage samples, graded histomorphologically by Mankin Score, were studied by in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry for the expression of BMP-2.


BMP-2 mRNA was present in chondrocytes in neonatal growing articular cartilage, but was scarcely present in normal adult articular cartilage. In OA articular cartilage, BMP-2 mRNA and protein were detected in both clustering and individual chondrocytes in moderately or severely damaged OA cartilage. In moderately damaged OA cartilage, BMP-2 mRNA was localized in both upper and middle zone chondrocytes, but was not detected in deep layer chondrocytes. In severely damaged OA cartilage, cellular localization of BMP-2 mRNA was extended to the deep zone. In the area of osteophyte formation, BMP-2 mRNA was intensely localized in fibroblastic mesenchymal cells, fibrochondrocytes, chondrocytes and osteoblasts in newly formed osteophytic tissue. The pattern of BMP-2/4 immunolocalization was associated with that of mRNA localization.


BMP-2 mRNA and BMP-2/4 were detected in cells appearing in OA tissues. BMP-2 was localized in cells of degenerating cartilage as well as osteophytic tissue. Given the negative localization of BMP-2 in normal adult articular cartilage, BMP-2 might be involved in the regenerating and anabolic activities of OA cells, which respond to cartilage damage occurring in osteoarthritis.

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