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PLoS One. 2010 Dec 29;5(12):e15174. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0015174.

Prolonged application of high fluid shear to chondrocytes recapitulates gene expression profiles associated with osteoarthritis.

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  • 1Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America.



Excessive mechanical loading of articular cartilage producing hydrostatic stress, tensile strain and fluid flow leads to irreversible cartilage erosion and osteoarthritic (OA) disease. Since application of high fluid shear to chondrocytes recapitulates some of the earmarks of OA, we aimed to screen the gene expression profiles of shear-activated chondrocytes and assess potential similarities with OA chondrocytes.


Using a cDNA microarray technology, we screened the differentially-regulated genes in human T/C-28a2 chondrocytes subjected to high fluid shear (20 dyn/cm(2)) for 48 h and 72 h relative to static controls. Confirmation of the expression patterns of select genes was obtained by qRT-PCR. Using significance analysis of microarrays with a 5% false discovery rate, 71 and 60 non-redundant transcripts were identified to be ≥2-fold up-regulated and ≤0.6-fold down-regulated, respectively, in sheared chondrocytes. Published data sets indicate that 42 of these genes, which are related to extracellular matrix/degradation, cell proliferation/differentiation, inflammation and cell survival/death, are differentially-regulated in OA chondrocytes. In view of the pivotal role of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) in the pathogenesis and/or progression of OA in vivo and regulation of shear-induced inflammation and apoptosis in vitro, we identified a collection of genes that are either up- or down-regulated by shear-induced COX-2. COX-2 and L-prostaglandin D synthase (L-PGDS) induce reactive oxygen species production, and negatively regulate genes of the histone and cell cycle families, which may play a critical role in chondrocyte death.


Prolonged application of high fluid shear stress to chondrocytes recapitulates gene expression profiles associated with osteoarthritis. Our data suggest a potential link between exposure of chondrocytes/cartilage to abnormal mechanical loading and the pathogenesis/progression of OA.

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