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Biorheology. 2002;39(1-2):97-108.

Differential responses of chondrocytes from normal and osteoarthritic human articular cartilage to mechanical stimulation.

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Department of Pathology, Edinburgh University Medical School, Teviot Place, Edinburgh EH8 9AG, UK.


Mechanical stimulation is critically important for the maintenance of normal articular cartilage integrity. Molecular events regulating responses of chondrocytes to mechanical forces are beginning to be defined. Chondrocytes from normal human knee joint articular cartilage show increased levels of aggrecan mRNA following 0.33 Hz mechanical stimulation whilst at the same time relative levels of MMP3 mRNA are decreased. This anabolic response, associated with membrane hyperpolarisation, is activated via an integrin-dependent interleukin (IL)-4 autocrine/paracrine loop. Work in our laboratory suggests that this chondroprotective response may be aberrant in osteoarthritis (OA). Chondrocytes from OA cartilage show no changes in aggrecan or MMP3 mRNA following 0.33 Hz mechanical stimulation. alpha5beta1 integrin is the mechanoreceptor in both normal and OA chondrocytes but downstream signalling pathways differ. OA chondrocytes show membrane depolarisation following 0.33 Hz mechanical stimulation consequent to activation of an IL1beta autocrine/paracrine loop. IL4 signalling in OA chondrocytes is preferentially through the type I (IL4alpha/cgamma) receptor rather than via the type II (IL4alpha/IL13R) receptor. Altered mechanotransduction and signalling in OA may contribute to changes in chondrocyte behaviour leading to increased cartilage breakdown and disease progression.

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