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Arthritis Rheum. 2002 Sep;46(9):2368-76.

Fibronectin fragments and blocking antibodies to alpha2beta1 and alpha5beta1 integrins stimulate mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling and increase collagenase 3 (matrix metalloproteinase 13) production by human articular chondrocytes.

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Rush Medical College, Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois 60612, USA.



To determine if integrin-mediated signaling results in activation of chondrocyte mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases that lead to increased expression of matrix metalloproteinase 13 (MMP-13; collagenase 3), a potent mediator of cartilage matrix degradation.


Human articular chondrocytes isolated from normal ankle and knee cartilage obtained from tissue donors were cultured in monolayers. The cells were treated with a 120-kd fibronectin fragment (FN-f) that binds the alpha5beta1 integrin or with antibodies to specific integrin receptors. Activation of MAP kinases was determined by immunoblotting with phosphospecific antibodies. MMP production was measured by gelatin zymography, and MMP-13 production and activation were determined by immunoblotting and by a fluorogenic peptide assay.


Human articular chondrocytes were found to respond to the 120-kd FN-f and to adhesion-blocking antibodies to the alpha2beta1 and alpha5beta1 integrins with increased phosphorylation of the extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1 (ERK1)/ERK2, c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), and p38 MAP kinases. Intact FN and integrin-blocking antibodies to alpha1, alpha3, and alphaVbeta3 and a nonblocking alpha5 antibody had no effect. After MAP kinase activation, increased phosphorylation of c-Jun and the nuclear factor kappaB inhibitor was noted, followed by increased pro- and activated MMP-13 in the conditioned media. Inhibitors of mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase, p38, and JNK were each able to inhibit increased MMP-13 production, while the interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) protein did not. However, the IL-1Ra partially inhibited FN-f-induced activation of MMP-13.


Integrin-mediated MAP kinase signaling stimulated by FN-f is associated with increased production and release of pro- and active MMP-13. Autocrine production of IL-1 appears to result in additional MMP-13 activation. These processes may play a key role in feedback loops responsible for progressive cartilage degradation in arthritis.

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