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DNA methylation is not likely to be responsible for aggrecan down regulation in aged or osteoarthritic cartilage
  1. E Pöschl1,
  2. A Fidler2,
  3. B Schmidt2,
  4. A Kallipolitou2,
  5. E Schmid2,
  6. T Aigner2
  1. 1Department of Experimental Medicine, University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany
  2. 2Osteoarticular and Arthritis Research, Department of Pathology, University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr E Pöschl
    Department of Experimental Medicine I, Nikolaus-Fiebiger-Zentrum, University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Glückstr. 6, 91054 Erlangen, Germany;


Background: Expression of aggrecan is reduced during aging and osteoarthritic cartilage degeneration. CpG methylation may have a role in the down regulation of aggrecan transcriptions.

Objective: To investigate whether a correlation between gene methylation and expression of aggrecan in chondrocytes exists.

Methods: The human aggrecan promoter region was analysed computationally for CpG-rich regions. These were investigated for the methylation of C residues in normal (aged) and osteoarthritic chondrocytes by the bisulphite method for modifying DNA as well as sequence analysis using DNA directly extracted from normal and osteoarthritic cartilage tissue. Additionally, chondrocytic cell lines were investigated for methylation within the aggrecan promoter region.

Results: The CpG-rich promoter region of the human aggrecan gene contains a 0.6 kb region that meets the criteria of a CpG island as defined by prediction programmes. A significant correlation of aggrecan mRNA expression levels and methylation status in normal (aged) and osteoarthritic chondrocytes as well as in different chondrocytic cell lines was not found.

Conclusions: Expression of aggrecan in normal cartilage and diseased states is not modulated by gross changes of CpG methylation of its promoter region. CpG methylation does not have a central role in the switch off of aggrecan promoter activity in human adult articular chondrocytes.

  • DNA methylation
  • cartilage
  • epigenetics
  • gene regulation
  • osteoarthritis

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