Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Osteoarthritis

Mitochondrion. 2004 Sep;4(5-6):715-28. doi: 10.1016/j.mito.2004.07.022. Epub 2004 Oct 1.


In osteoarthritis (OA) a time or age dependent process leads to aberrant cartilage structure which is characterized by reduced number of chondrocytes, loss of existing cartilage extracellular matrix, the production of matrix with abnormal composition and pathologic matrix calcification. Because chondrocyte matrix synthesis and mineralization are modulated by the balance between ATP generation and consumption, the mechanism by which chondrocytes generate energy have been a topic of interest. The analysis of mitochondrial respiratory chain (MRC) activity in OA chondrocytes shows a significant decrease in complexes II and III compared to normal chondrocytes. On the other hand, mitochondrial mass is increased in OA, as demonstrated by a significant rise in CS activity. Furthermore, OA cells show a reduction in the mitochondrial membrane potential (deltapsim) as demonstrated by using the fluorescent probe JC-1. OA cartilage contains high number of apoptotic chondrocytes, and mitochondria play a key role in apoptosis. Interestingly, OA cartilages show markedly elevated Bcl-2 and caspasa-3 expression. This expression is also correlated with chondrocyte apoptosis and OA lesions. The pathogenesis of OA includes elaboration of increased amounts of NO as a consequence of up-regulation of chondrocyte-inducible NO synthase induced by IL-1, TNF-alpha and other factors. NO reduces chondrocyte survival and induces cell death with morphologic changes characteristic of chondrocyte apoptosis. NO reduces the activity of complex IV and decreases the deltapsim as measured as the ratio of red/green fluorescence. Furthermore, NO induces the mRNA expression of caspase-3 and -7, and it reduces the expression of mRNA bcl-2 and the bcl-2 protein synthesis. Some studies suggest that the chondrocyte mitochondria are specialized for calcium transport and are important in the calcification of the extracellular matrix. Mineral formation has been demonstrated in matrix vesicles (MV) and within mitochondria. Direct suppression of mitochondrial respiration promoted MV-mediated mineralization in chondrocytes. Regulation of MRC may be one of the signaling pathways by which NO modulates articular cartilage matrix biosynthesis and pathologic mineralization. After age 40, the incidence of OA in humans increases progressively with increasing age. Studies show a trend to statistic significance between the age and the reduction of complex I activity of human normal chondrocytes. However, the study of relation between age and deltapsim in normal chondrocytes do not demonstrate any significant correlation. It has been reported that as the number of population doublings increased, mitochondrial DNA was degraded and the number of mitochondria per chondrocyte decline. One approach for determining the role of mitochondria in OA is to determine the effects of the MRC inhibition and to compare them with the findings in OA. Inhibition of MRC with antimycin prevents the normal ability of TGFbeta to increase excretion of Pi, thereby worsening deposition of pathologic HA crystals. In chondrocytes, the inhibition of complex IV with NaN3 modified both the deltapsim and the survival of cells inducing apoptosis. Inhibition of complex I with rotenone increases the expression and synthesis of Bcl-2 and Cox-2, both effects are similar effects to produced by IL-1 in human chondrocytes.