Objective To use a computational approach to investigate the cellular and extracellular matrix changes that occur with age in the knee joints of mice.
Methods Knee joints from an inbred C57/BL1/6 (ICRFa) mouse colony were harvested at 3–30 months of age. Sections were stained with H&E, Safranin-O, Picro-sirius red and antibodies to matrix metalloproteinase-13 (MMP-13), nitrotyrosine, LC-3B, Bcl-2, and cleaved type II collagen used for immunohistochemistry. Based on this and other data from the literature, a computer simulation model was built using the Systems Biology Markup Language using an iterative approach of data analysis and modelling. Individual parameters were subsequently altered to assess their effect on the model.
Results A progressive loss of cartilage matrix occurred with age. Nitrotyrosine, MMP-13 and activin receptor-like kinase-1 (ALK1) staining in cartilage increased with age with a concomitant decrease in LC-3B and Bcl-2. Stochastic simulations from the computational model showed a good agreement with these data, once transforming growth factor-β signalling via ALK1/ALK5 receptors was included. Oxidative stress and the interleukin 1 pathway were identified as key factors in driving the cartilage breakdown associated with ageing.
Conclusions A progressive loss of cartilage matrix and cellularity occurs with age. This is accompanied with increased levels of oxidative stress, apoptosis and MMP-13 and a decrease in chondrocyte autophagy. These changes explain the marked predisposition of joints to develop osteoarthritis with age. Computational modelling provides useful insights into the underlying mechanisms involved in age-related changes in musculoskeletal tissues.
- Synovial fluid
This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Statistics from Altmetric.com
This web only file has been produced by the BMJ Publishing Group from an electronic file supplied by the author(s) and has not been edited for content.
Files in this Data Supplement:
- Data supplement 1 - Online supplement
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.