The distribution of YKL-40 in osteoarthritic and normal human articular cartilage

Scand J Rheumatol. 1999;28(3):171-9. doi: 10.1080/03009749950154257.


YKL-40, also called human cartilage glycoprotein-39, is a major secretory protein of human chondrocytes in cell culture. YKL-40 mRNA is expressed by cartilage from patients with rheumatoid arthritis, but is not detectable in normal human cartilage. The aim was to investigate the distribution of YKL-40 in osteoarthritic (n=9) and macroscopically normal (n=5) human articular cartilage, collected from 12 pre-selected areas of the femoral head, to discover a potential role for YKL-40 in cartilage remodelling in osteoarthritis. Immunohistochemical analysis showed that YKL-40 staining was found in chondrocytes of osteoarthritic cartilage mainly in the superficial and middle zone of the cartilage rather than the deep zone. There was a tendency for high number of YKL-40 positive chondrocytes in areas of the femoral head with a considerable biomechanical load. The number of chondrocytes with a positive staining for YKL-40 was in general low in normal cartilage. The present findings, together with previous observations, suggests that YKL-40 may be of importance in cartilage remodelling/degradation of osteoarthritic joints.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipokines
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cartilage, Articular / chemistry
  • Cartilage, Articular / metabolism*
  • Chitinase-3-Like Protein 1
  • Female
  • Femur Head / chemistry
  • Femur Head / metabolism
  • Glycoproteins / pharmacokinetics*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lectins
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis / metabolism*


  • Adipokines
  • CHI3L1 protein, human
  • Chitinase-3-Like Protein 1
  • Glycoproteins
  • Lectins