Objective: To investigate the in vitro effect of therapeutic hyaluronan (HA) of 500-730 kd on anti-Fas-induced apoptosis of chondrocytes from osteoarthritis (OA) patients, and to assess its mechanism of action by analyzing the role of the 2 HA receptors, CD44 and CD54 (intercellular adhesion molecule 1 [ICAM-1]).
Methods: Chondrocytes isolated from human OA knee cartilage were cultured and the effect of HA on both spontaneous and anti-Fas-induced apoptosis was evaluated. Apoptosis was analyzed by JAM test (for quantitative analysis of fragmented DNA), cell death detection immunoassay (for quantitative analysis of oligonucleosome), TUNEL assay, and electron microscopy. Blocking experiments with anti-CD44 and anti-CD54 alone or in combination were performed to investigate the HA mechanism of action.
Results: Both quantitative tests demonstrated that anti-Fas significantly induced apoptosis of isolated OA chondrocytes. HA at 1,000 microg/ml significantly reduced the anti-Fas-induced apoptosis of chondrocytes but did not affect spontaneous chondrocyte apoptosis. These data were also confirmed by TUNEL staining and by electron microscopy morphologic evaluation. The antiapoptotic effects of HA on anti-FAS-induced chondrocyte apoptosis were significantly decreased by both anti-CD44 (mean +/- SD 57 +/- 12% inhibition) and anti-ICAM-1 (31 +/- 22% inhibition). The mixture of the 2 antibodies had an additive effect, since the rate of inhibition increased to 87 +/- 13%.
Conclusion: These data demonstrate that 500-730-kd HA exerts an antiapoptotic effect on anti-FAS-induced chondrocyte apoptosis by binding its specific receptors (CD44 and ICAM-1). Furthermore, this HA fraction may be able to slow down chondrocyte apoptosis in OA by regulating the processes of cartilage matrix degradation.