Cross-talk of subchondral bone osteoblasts and articular cartilage chondrocytes : a new insight in understanding osteoarthritis pathogenesis

Prasadam, Indira (2009) Cross-talk of subchondral bone osteoblasts and articular cartilage chondrocytes : a new insight in understanding osteoarthritis pathogenesis. PhD by Publication, Queensland University of Technology.


Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common musculoskeletal disorder and represents a major health burden to society. In the course of the pathological development of OA, articular cartilage chondrocytes (ACCs) undergo atypical phenotype changes characterized by the expression of hypertrophic differentiation markers. Also, the adjacent subchondral bone shows signs of abnormal mineral density and enhanced production of bone turnover markers, indicative of osteoblast dysfunction. Collectively these findings indicate that the pathological changes typical of OA, involve alterations of the phenotypic properties of cells in both the subchondral bone and articular cartilage. However, the mechanism(s) by which these changes occur during OA development are not completely understood. The purpose of this project was to address the question of how subchondral bone osteoblasts (SBOs) and ACCs interact with each other with respect to regulation of respective cells’ phenotypic properties and in particular the involvement of mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) signalling pathways under normal and OA joint condition. We also endeavoured to test the influence of cross-talk between SBOs and ACCs isolated from normal and OA joint on matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) expression. For this purpose tissues from the knees of OA patients and normal controls were collected to isolate SBOs and ACCs. The cellular cross-talk of SBOs and ACCs were studied by means of both direct and indirect co-culture systems, which made it possible to identify the role of both membrane bound and soluble factors. Histology, immunohistochemistry, qRT-PCR, zymography, ELISA and western blotting were some of the techniques applied to distinguish the changes in the co-cultured vs. non co-cultured cells. The MAPK signalling pathways were probed by using targeted MAPK inhibitors, and their activity monitored by western blot analysis using phospho MAPK specific antibodies. Our co-culture studies demonstrated that OA ACCs enhanced the SBOs differentiation compared to normal ACCs. We demonstrated that OA ACCs induced these phenotypic changes in the SBOs via activating an ERK1/2 signalling pathway. The findings from this study thus provided clear evidence that OA ACCs play an integral role in altering the SBO phenotype. In the second study, we tested the influence of normal SBOs and OA SBOs on ACCs phenotype changes. The results showed that OA SBOs increased the hypertrophic gene expression in co-cultured ACCs compared to normal SBOs, a phenotype which is considered as pathological to the health and integrity of articular cartilage. It was demonstrated that these phenotype changes occurred via de-activation of p38 and activation of ERK1/2 signaling pathways. These findings suggest that the pathological interaction of OA SBOs with ACCs is mediated by cross-talking between ERK1/2 and p38 pathways, resulting in ACCs undergoing hypertrophic differentiation. Subsequent experiments to determine the effect on MMP regulation, of SBOs and ACCs cross-talk, revealed that co-culturing OA SBOs with ACCs significantly enhanced the proteolytic activity and expression of MMP-2 and MMP-9. In turn, co-culture of OA ACCs with SBOs led to abundant MMP-2 expression in SBOs. Furthermore, we showed that the addition of ERK1/2 and JNK inhibitors reversed the elevated MMP-2 and MMP-9 production which otherwise resulted from the interactions of OA SBOs-ACCs. Thus, this study has demonstrated that the altered interactions between OA SBOs-ACCs are capable of triggering the pathological pathways leading to degenerative changes seen in the osteoarthritic joint. In conclusion, the body of work presented in this dissertation has given clear in vitro evidence that the altered bi-directional communication of SBOs and ACCs may play a role in OA development and that this process was mediated by MAPK signalling pathways. Targeting these altered interactions by the use of MAPK inhibitors may provide the scientific rationale for the development of novel therapeutic strategies in the treatment and management of OA.

Impact and interest:

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

604 since deposited on 25 Nov 2010
15 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 38887
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD by Publication)
Supervisor: Xiao, Yin & Crawford, Ross
Keywords: osteoarthritis, cell interactions, cross-talk, subchondral bone osteoblasts, articular cartilage chondrocytes, mitogen activated protein kinase, matrix metalloproteinases, co-culture
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 25 Nov 2010 06:41
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 20:00

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page