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Temporal pattern of cysteine endopeptidase (cathepsin B) expression in cartilage and synovium from rabbit knees with experimental osteoarthritis: gene expression in chondrocytes in response to interleukin-1 and matrix depletion
  1. Fuad Mehrabana,
  2. Michael H Tindalb,
  3. Michelle M Proffittb,
  4. Roland W Moskowitza
  1. aCase Western Reserve University School of Medicine, 10900 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA, bProcter and Gamble Pharmaceuticals, Miami Valley Laboratories, Cincinnati, OH 45239, USA
  1. Fuad Mehraban PhD, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Biomedical Research Building Room 1022, 10900 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA.


OBJECTIVE To determine the temporal pattern of expression of cathepsin-B in chondrocytes and synovium in experimental osteoarthritis, and to determine possible mechanisms for upregulation and secretion of cathepsin-B from chondrocytes.

METHODS Experimental osteoarthritis was induced with partial medial meniscectomy (PM); sham operated (SH) and normal (N) rabbits were used as controls. Cathepsin-B mRNA expression was assessed with northern blotting with a 32P labelled cDNA probe. Cathepsin-B was measured in conditioned media or cell extracts using a fluorogenic substrate Z-Arg-Arg-AMC. Chondrocyte monolayers were used to determine cathepsin-B expression in response to interleukin-1β (IL-1β). Cartilage explants were used to test the effect of matrix depletion on cathepsin-B release.

RESULTS Chondrocytes obtained from experimental osteoarthritis knees did not show cathepsin-B mRNA upregulation. However, isolated chondrocytes secreted cathepsin-B into the culture medium. Enzyme release was significantly higher at 8 weeks relative to controls, but not at 12 weeks or 4 weeks. Enzyme released from synovium was significantly higher in PM group compared with SH group at 4 and 8 weeks. IL-1β was ineffective in upregulating steady state cathepsin-B mRNA in chondrocytes; however, it upregulated the intracellular enzyme, and this was blocked with cycloheximide. Enzymatic depletion of cartilage matrix after exposure of explants to IL-1 resulted in release of significantly higher amounts of cathepsin-B into the medium by matrix depleted chondrocytes compared with intact explants.

CONCLUSIONS In experimental osteoarthritis, cathepsin-B is upregulated in synovial tissue during the early degenerative phase. Progression of experimental osteoarthritis is accompanied by upregulation of cathepsin-B in cartilage. Cartilage and synovial cathepsin-B levels decline as experimental osteoarthritis advances to more degenerative states. IL-1 upregulates intracellular cathepsin-B by increasing cathepsin-B protein synthesis; it is not an effective stimulus for enzyme secretion. Depletion of cartilage matrix during progression of experimental osteoarthritis may contribute to secretion of cathepsin-B and perpetuation of cartilage destruction.

  • cathepsin-B
  • cartilage
  • osteoarthritis
  • animal model.
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