Objective: To examine the in vivo effects of carboxymethylated chitin (CMC), intra-articularly administered, on cartilage degradation and the level and distribution of cartilage matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1).
Methods: Osteoarthritis (OA) was induced in 20 rabbits by unilateral anterior cruciate ligament transection (ACLT). The experimental group, comprising 10 rabbits randomly selected, was given an intra-articular injection of 0.3 ml of 2% CMC solution at 1, 3, and 5 weeks after ACLT. A further 10 rabbits that received an intra-articular injection of 0.3 ml normal saline at the same time served as controls. All knees were harvested at 6 weeks after surgery. Cartilage degradation of femoral condyles was evaluated at two levels: macroscopic and light microscopic. Tissue level and distribution of MMP-1 was documented by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and immunohistochemistry.
Results: Cartilage degradation in the control group was significantly more severe than that in the experimental group both on the macroscopic grading scale and on Mankin’s grading scale. In RT-PCR the amount of MMP-1 was significantly reduced by the treatment of CMC. Immunohistochemical study showed that in the experimental group MMP-1 was predominantly expressed in the superficial and upper intermediate layers of cartilage, and the amount of MMP-1 in the experimental group was also lower than that in control group.
Conclusion: CMC significantly reduces the severity of cartilage degradation and reduces the expression of MMP-1 in cartilage, both at the mRNA and the protein level, and thus may be a potential drug for the treatment of OA.
- carboxymethylated chitin
- matrix metalloproteinase-1
- ACLT, anterior cruciate ligament transection
- CMC, carboxymethylated chitin
- GAG, glycosaminoglycan
- GAPDH, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase
- MMP, matrix metalloproteinase
- NO, nitric oxide
- OA, osteoarthritis
- OD, optical density
- RT-PCR, reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction
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