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Arch Biochem Biophys. 2000 Feb 15;374(2):172-80.

The role of microtubules in the regulation of proteoglycan synthesis in chondrocytes under hydrostatic pressure.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy, University of Kuopio, Kuopio, 70211, Finland.


Chondrocytes of the articular cartilage sense mechanical factors associated with joint loading, such as hydrostatic pressure, and maintain the homeostasis of the extracellular matrix by regulating the metabolism of proteoglycans (PGs) and collagens. Intermittent hydrostatic pressure stimulates, while continuous high hydrostatic pressure inhibits, the biosynthesis of PGs. High continuous hydrostatic pressure also changes the structure of cytoskeleton and Golgi complex in cultured chondrocytes. Using microtubule (MT)-affecting drugs nocodazole and taxol as tools we examined whether MTs are involved in the regulation of PG synthesis in pressurized primary chondrocyte monolayer cultures. Disruption of the microtubular array by nocodazole inhibited [(35)S]sulfate incorporation by 39-48%, while MT stabilization by taxol caused maximally a 17% inhibition. Continuous hydrostatic pressure further decreased the synthesis by 34-42% in nocodazole-treated cultures. This suggests that high pressure exerts its inhibitory effect through mechanisms independent of MTs. On the other hand, nocodazole and taxol both prevented the stimulation of PG synthesis by cyclic 0. 5 Hz, 5 MPa hydrostatic pressure. The drugs did not affect the structural and functional properties of the PGs, and none of the treatments significantly affected cell viability, as indicated by the high level of PG synthesis 24-48 h after the release of drugs and/or high hydrostatic pressure. Our data on two-dimensional chondrocyte cultures indicate that inhibition of PG synthesis by continuous high hydrostatic pressure does not interfere with the MT-dependent vesicle traffic, while the stimulation of synthesis by cyclic pressure does not occur if the dynamic nature of MTs is disturbed by nocodazole. Similar phenomena may operate in cartilage matrix embedded chondrocytes.

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