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Nat Med. 2009 Sep;15(9):1072-6. doi: 10.1038/nm.1998. Epub 2009 Aug 16.

Syndecan-4 regulates ADAMTS-5 activation and cartilage breakdown in osteoarthritis.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, Medical University Hannover, Hannover, Germany. echtermeyer.frank@mh-hannover.de


Aggrecan cleavage by a disintegrin and metalloproteinase with a thrombospondin type 1 motif, member 5 (ADAMTS-5) is crucial for the breakdown of cartilage matrix during osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that leads to the progressive destruction of articular structures. The mechanisms of ADAMTS-5 activation and their links to the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis remain poorly understood, but syndecans have been shown to be involved in the activation of ADAMTS-4 (ref. 3). Here we show that syndecan-4 is specifically induced in type X collagen-producing chondrocytes both in human osteoarthritis and in murine models of the disease. The loss of syndecan-4 in genetically modified mice and intra-articular injections of syndecan-4-specific antibodies into wild-type mice protect from proteoglycan loss and thereby prevent osteoarthritic cartilage damage in a surgically induced model of osteoarthritis. The occurrence of less severe osteoarthritis-like cartilage destruction in both syndecan-4-deficient mice and syndecan-4-specific antibody-treated wild-type mice results from a marked decrease in ADAMTS-5 activity. Syndecan-4 controls the activation of ADAMTS-5 through direct interaction with the protease and through regulating mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)-dependent synthesis of matrix metalloproteinase-3 (MMP-3). Our data suggest that strategies aimed at the inhibition of syndecan-4 will be of great value for the treatment of cartilage damage in osteoarthritis.

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