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Arthritis Res Ther. 2007;9(5):R100.

Microarray gene expression profiling of osteoarthritic bone suggests altered bone remodelling, WNT and transforming growth factor-beta/bone morphogenic protein signalling.

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Division of Tissue Pathology, Institute of Medical & Veterinary Science, Frome Road, Adelaide, South Australia, 5000, Australia.


Osteoarthritis (OA) is characterized by alterations to subchondral bone as well as articular cartilage. Changes to bone in OA have also been identified at sites distal to the affected joint, which include increased bone volume fraction and reduced bone mineralization. Altered bone remodelling has been proposed to underlie these bone changes in OA. To investigate the molecular basis for these changes, we performed microarray gene expression profiling of bone obtained at autopsy from individuals with no evidence of joint disease (control) and from individuals undergoing joint replacement surgery for either degenerative hip OA, or fractured neck of femur (osteoporosis [OP]). The OP sample set was included because an inverse association, with respect to bone density, has been observed between OA and the low bone density disease OP. Compugen human 19K-oligo microarray slides were used to compare the gene expression profiles of OA, control and OP bone samples. Four sets of samples were analyzed, comprising 10 OA-control female, 10 OA-control male, 10 OA-OP female and 9 OP-control female sample pairs. Print tip Lowess normalization and Bayesian statistical analyses were carried out using linear models for microarray analysis, which identified 150 differentially expressed genes in OA bone with t scores above 4. Twenty-five of these genes were then confirmed to be differentially expressed (P < 0.01) by real-time PCR analysis. A substantial number of the top-ranking differentially expressed genes identified in OA bone are known to play roles in osteoblasts, osteocytes and osteoclasts. Many of these genes are targets of either the WNT (wingless MMTV integration) signalling pathway (TWIST1, IBSP, S100A4, MMP25, RUNX2 and CD14) or the transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta/bone morphogenic protein (BMP) signalling pathway (ADAMTS4, ADM, MEPE, GADD45B, COL4A1 and FST). Other differentially expressed genes included WNT (WNT5B, NHERF1, CTNNB1 and PTEN) and TGF-beta/BMP (TGFB1, SMAD3, BMP5 and INHBA) signalling pathway component or modulating genes. In addition a subset of genes involved in osteoclast function (GSN, PTK9, VCAM1, ITGB2, ANXA2, GRN, PDE4A and FOXP1) was identified as being differentially expressed in OA bone between females and males. Altered expression of these sets of genes suggests altered bone remodelling and may in part explain the sex disparity observed in OA.

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