Objective: To determine whether aggrecanase (ADAMTS) activities in articular cartilage can directly lead to the release of hyaluronan (HA) and hyaladherins (aggrecan G1 domain and link proteins), as may occur ex vivo during stimulation of cartilage explants with interleukin-1 (IL-1) or retinoic acid or in vivo in synovial joints during aging and joint pathology.
Methods: Bovine articular cartilage discs (live or freeze-killed) were cultured in the presence of IL-1 or were incubated in digestion buffer containing recombinant human ADAMTS-4 (rHuADAMTS-4; aggrecanase 1) or rHuADAMTS-5 (aggrecanase 2). Culture media, digestion supernatants, and tissue extracts were assayed for sulfated glycosaminoglycan (sGAG) content and analyzed by Western blotting to detect aggrecanase-generated G1 domain (using neoepitope monoclonal antibody AGG-C1/anti-NITEGE(373)) and link proteins (using monoclonal antibody 8-A-4), as well as by quantitative enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays to detect aggrecanase-generated G1 domain (G1-NITEGE(373)) and HA.
Results: IL-1 treatment of live cartilage explants induced a time-dependent release of sGAG, aggrecanase-generated G1 domain (G1-NITEGE(373)), and HA into the culture media. Exposure of live or freeze-killed articular cartilage discs to rHuADAMTS-4 or rHuADAMTS-5 resulted in a dose- and time-dependent release of sGAG and hyaluronan from the tissue, accompanied by a concomitant release of functionally intact hyaladherins (aggrecan G1-NITEGE(373) and link proteins).
Conclusion: Coincident with aggrecanolysis, aggrecanase activities in articular cartilage may actuate the release of HA and associated hyaladherins, thereby further compromising the integrity of the cartilage matrix during degenerative joint diseases such as osteoarthritis.