Although PTHrP has been identified as a key regulator of chondrocyte differentiation in the growth plate, the factors directly regulating PTHrP expression have not been identified. Furthermore, while cells from the epiphysis are considered the physiologic source of PTHrP, the relative expression of PTHrP in epiphyseal and growth plate chondrocytes has not been defined. PTHrP expression was examined in chondrocytes isolated from 3- to 5-week-old chick long bones. The expression of PTHrP mRNA was 10-fold higher in epiphyseal chondrocytes compared to cells from the growth plate. Growth plate chondrocytes were isolated into populations with distinct maturational characteristics by countercurrent centrifugal elutriation and analyzed for PTHrP expression. The expression was highest in the least mature cells and progressively declined with the onset of maturation. The regulation of PTHrP expression was further examined in epiphyseal chondrocytes. Both TGF-beta1 and cis-retinoic acid stimulation markedly increased PTHrP mRNA levels, while BMP-2 and PTHrP stimulation decreased the expression of this transcript. The effects of TGF-beta1 (8.9-fold stimulation) and TGF-beta3 (9.2-fold) were slightly greater than the effects of TGF-beta2 (4.9-fold). The effect of TGF-beta was dose-dependent and increases could be detected after 68 h of treatment. To analyze the paracrine effect of epiphyseal and growth plate chondrocytes on each other, these cells were placed in coculture and the mRNA from each of the populations was harvested separately after 24 h. Following coculture the PTHrP mRNA levels increased in the epiphyseal cells while the expression of type X collagen and Indian hedgehog transcripts decreased in growth plate chondrocytes. The results demonstrate potentially important paracrine interactions between these cell populations, possibly mediated by TGF-beta and PTHrP.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.