Localization of bone morphogenetic protein-2 in human osteoarthritic cartilage and osteophyte

Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2003 Apr;11(4):278-84. doi: 10.1016/s1063-4584(03)00004-9.


Objectives: To examine the localization of bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-2 mRNA and protein in human osteoarthritic (OA) articular cartilage and osteophyte.

Design: Five normal, four growing and 14 OA human cartilage samples, graded histomorphologically by Mankin Score, were studied by in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry for the expression of BMP-2.

Results: BMP-2 mRNA was present in chondrocytes in neonatal growing articular cartilage, but was scarcely present in normal adult articular cartilage. In OA articular cartilage, BMP-2 mRNA and protein were detected in both clustering and individual chondrocytes in moderately or severely damaged OA cartilage. In moderately damaged OA cartilage, BMP-2 mRNA was localized in both upper and middle zone chondrocytes, but was not detected in deep layer chondrocytes. In severely damaged OA cartilage, cellular localization of BMP-2 mRNA was extended to the deep zone. In the area of osteophyte formation, BMP-2 mRNA was intensely localized in fibroblastic mesenchymal cells, fibrochondrocytes, chondrocytes and osteoblasts in newly formed osteophytic tissue. The pattern of BMP-2/4 immunolocalization was associated with that of mRNA localization.

Conclusions: BMP-2 mRNA and BMP-2/4 were detected in cells appearing in OA tissues. BMP-2 was localized in cells of degenerating cartilage as well as osteophytic tissue. Given the negative localization of BMP-2 in normal adult articular cartilage, BMP-2 might be involved in the regenerating and anabolic activities of OA cells, which respond to cartilage damage occurring in osteoarthritis.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 2
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / analysis*
  • Cartilage, Articular / metabolism*
  • Chondrocytes / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods
  • In Situ Hybridization / methods
  • Male
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / metabolism*
  • Osteogenesis / physiology
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta*


  • BMP2 protein, human
  • BMP4 protein, human
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 2
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta