Induction of aggrecanase 1 (ADAM-TS4) by interleukin-1 occurs through activation of constitutively produced protein

Arthritis Rheum. 2003 Jan;48(1):119-33. doi: 10.1002/art.10726.


Objective: To study the production of aggrecanase 1 (ADAM-TS4) in monolayer chondrocytes, capsular fibroblasts, and cartilage.

Methods: Bovine nasal and articular cartilage, monolayer chondrocytes, and capsular fibroblasts were incubated in the absence and presence of interleukin-1 (IL-1). ADAM-TS4 production was evaluated by immunofluorescence or by Western blot analysis. Aggrecanase activity was measured in cells grown on an immobilized peptide substrate, and peptide cleavage was monitored by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.

Results: There was constitutive production of ADAM-TS4 in both cells and tissue. The protein was associated with the extracellular matrix based on the observation that the staining could be reduced following treatment of chondrocytes with heparin or exposure to chondroitinase ABC. Interestingly, there was no detectable change in the abundance of ADAM-TS4 in response to IL-1. Western blot analysis of cell lysates from IL-1-stimulated chondrocytes showed no evidence of increased ADAM-TS4 production, but resulted in activation of ADAM-TS4. The activation was associated with an increased generation in the aggrecanase neoepitope NITEGE in nasal cartilage in response to IL-1. These data suggest that induction of aggrecanase activity both in cells and in cartilage by IL-1 may involve the stimulation of an activator of ADAM-TS4. Consistent with this observation, culture of chondrocytes on a solid support containing a peptide substrate resulted in the generation of aggrecanase-mediated cleavage that could be blocked by selective inhibitors of ADAM-TS4.

Conclusion: These data support the hypothesis that ADAM-TS4 is constitutively produced in these cells and tissue, and that stimulation by IL-1 results in aggrecanase activation. Thus, the activator could be a potential target by which to control aggrecanase-mediated degradation in arthritic diseases.

MeSH terms

  • ADAM Proteins
  • ADAMTS4 Protein
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cartilage, Articular / cytology
  • Cartilage, Articular / enzymology
  • Cattle
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chondrocytes / cytology
  • Chondrocytes / enzymology*
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Fibroblasts / enzymology
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Interleukin-1 / pharmacology*
  • Metalloendopeptidases / analysis
  • Metalloendopeptidases / metabolism*
  • Peptides / metabolism
  • Procollagen N-Endopeptidase
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Interleukin-1
  • Peptides
  • ADAM Proteins
  • Metalloendopeptidases
  • Procollagen N-Endopeptidase
  • ADAMTS4 Protein