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Arthritis Rheum. 1999 Nov;42(11):2381-9.

Type II collagen degradation in spontaneous osteoarthritis in C57Bl/6 and BALB/c mice.

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Orthopaedic Research Laboratory, University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands.



Degradation of type II collagen during osteoarthritis (OA) is thought to be the key process leading to cartilage destruction. In this study, we investigated whether OA is characterized by either a generalized breakdown of the collagenous network or a localized process. Furthermore, we determined if collagen degradation was linked to cell death.


Two mouse strains that develop spontaneous OA, C57Bl/6 and BALB/c mice, were examined. Type II collagen degradation in type II collagen-induced arthritis was also examined for comparison. Immunolocalization with the COL2-3/4m and COL2-3/4C antibodies was used to demonstrate denatured type II collagen and the collagenase cleavage site in type II collagen, respectively.


Both the C57Bl/6 and the BALB/c mice developed OA changes, although clear compartmental differences existed between the two strains. In both strains, type II collagen degradation was clearly present at sites of degeneration, but was absent from intact articular cartilage. Collagen degradation was absent from areas with cell death.


These results indicate that type II collagen degradation in spontaneous murine OA is associated with degeneration and is a localized, instead of a generalized, process.

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