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Arthritis Rheum. 2010 Apr;62(4):1108-18. doi: 10.1002/art.27343.

Transcriptional profiling and biochemical analysis of mechanically induced cartilaginous tissues in a rat model.

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  • 1Boston University and Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.



To characterize patterns of molecular expression that lead to cartilage formation in vivo in a postnatal setting, by profiling messenger RNA expression across the time course of mechanically induced chondrogenesis.


Retired breeder Sprague-Dawley rats underwent a noncritical-sized transverse femoral osteotomy. Experimental animals (n = 45) were subjected to bending stimulation (60 degrees cyclic motion in the sagittal plane for 15 minutes/day) of the osteotomy gap beginning on day 10 after the operation. Control animals (n = 32) experienced continuous rigid fixation. Messenger RNA isolated on days 10, 17, 24, and 38 after surgery was analyzed using a microarray containing 608 genes involved in skeletal development, tissue differentiation, fracture healing, and mechanotransduction. The glycosaminoglycan (GAG) content in the stimulated tissues was compared with that in native articular cartilage as a means of assessing the progression of chondrogenic development of the tissues.


The majority of the 100 genes that were differentially expressed were up-regulated in response to mechanical stimulation. Many of these genes are associated with articular cartilage development and maintenance, diarthrodial joint development, cell adhesion, extracellular matrix synthesis, signal transduction, and skeletal development. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction results were consistent with the microarray findings. The GAG content of the stimulated tissues increased over time and was no different from that of articular cartilage on day 38 after surgery.


Our findings indicate that mechanical stimulation causes up-regulation of genes that are principally involved in joint cavity morphogenesis and critical to articular cartilage function. Further study of this type of stimulation may identify key signaling events required for postnatal hyaline cartilage formation.

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