Expression of the cartilage derived anti-angiogenic factor chondromodulin-I decreases in the early stage of experimental osteoarthritis

Tadashi Hayami, Haruko Funaki, Kiyoshi Yaoeda, Kaori Mitui, Hiroshi Yamagiwa, Kunihiko Tokunaga, Hiroshi Hatano, Jun Kondo, Yuji Hiraki, Tadashi Yamamoto, Le T Duong, Naoto Endo
Journal of Rheumatology 2003, 30 (10): 2207-17

OBJECTIVE: Chondromodulin-I (ChM-I), a cartilage derived anti-angiogenic factor, has been shown to regulate the vascular invasion during endochondral bone formation. We evaluated the expression and localization of ChM-I in articular cartilage during the progression of osteoarthritis (OA) in the rat, and correlated ChM-I expression with the increase in vascular invasion into OA articular cartilage.

METHODS: Expression of ChM-I, type II collagen, basic fibroblast growth factor, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and matrix metalloproteinases MMP-9 and MMP-13 were examined in articular cartilage of intact growing and adult rats and in the surgically induced OA model using in situ hybridization, Western blot analysis, and immunohistochemistry. Co-immunostaining for ChM-I and CD-31 was performed to localize ChM-I and neovascularization in articular cartilage at advanced stage of OA.

RESULTS: Abundant expression of ChM-I protein was detected in avascular regions of the developing and adult healthy articular cartilage. In early OA, ChM-I expression decreased in the superficial zone of articular cartilage, while levels of proteoglycan and type II collagen were comparable to control. In advanced OA, ChM-I expression was reduced in all zones of articular cartilage, and the number of VEGF-expressing cells was increased. Immunohistochemical studies showed that vascular invasion occurred in proximity to chondrocytes with high expression of pro-angiogenic markers, and decreased expression of ChM-I.

CONCLUSION: High expression of ChM-I was detected in articular cartilage of growing and normal adult joints, implicating its role in the maintenance of avascularity of intact articular cartilage. Expression of ChM-I decreased, while expression of VEGF and other pro-angiogenic factors increased, in OA cartilage. These findings suggest the loss of ChM-I from articular cartilage might be responsible in part for promoting blood vessel invasion into the cartilage during progression of OA.

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