Articular cartilage and changes in arthritis. An introduction: cell biology of osteoarthritis

Arthritis Res. 2001;3(2):107-13. doi: 10.1186/ar148. Epub 2001 Jan 22.


The reaction patterns of chondrocytes in osteoarthritis can be summarized in five categories: (1) proliferation and cell death (apoptosis); changes in (2) synthetic activity and (3) degradation; (4) phenotypic modulation of the articular chondrocytes; and (5) formation of osteophytes. In osteoarthritis, the primary responses are reinitiation of synthesis of cartilage macromolecules, the initiation of synthesis of types IIA and III procollagens as markers of a more primitive phenotype, and synthesis of active proteolytic enzymes. Reversion to a fibroblast-like phenotype, known as "dedifferentiation", does not appear to be an important component. Proliferation plays a role in forming characteristic chondrocyte clusters near the surface, while apoptosis probably occurs primarily in the calcified cartilage.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cartilage, Articular / enzymology
  • Cartilage, Articular / metabolism*
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology*
  • Chondrocytes / enzymology
  • Chondrocytes / metabolism
  • Chondrocytes / pathology
  • Humans
  • Osteoarthritis / enzymology
  • Osteoarthritis / metabolism*
  • Osteoarthritis / pathology*