Expression of ion channels of the TRP family in articular chondrocytes from osteoarthritic patients: changes between native and in vitro propagated chondrocytes

Mol Cell Biochem. 2009 Jan;321(1-2):135-43. doi: 10.1007/s11010-008-9927-x. Epub 2008 Oct 4.


The maintenance of a differentiated chondrocyte phenotype is influenced by several factors of which signal transduction of extracellular stimuli through the cell membrane is of major interest. One important group of membrane-bound proteins which are involved in transmembrane signal transduction are ion channels. Human articular chondrocytes were obtained from osteoarthritic femoral condyles. Cells were released from the surrounding matrix and cultivated under standard conditions. We investigated gene expression of 12 members of the TRP ion channel family of freshly prepared (passage 0; P0) and in vitro propagated human articular chondrocytes (passage 2; P2) using conventional and real-time PCR (RT-PCR). In addition, the protein appearance of four TRP channels was demonstrated by immunofluorescence and western blotting. Chondrocyte differentiation was monitored by quantification of collagen type-II, type-I, and aggrecan gene expression. By conventional PCR, 8 channels could be detected, of which some displayed a heterogeneous PCR pattern. RT-PCR quantification revealed that TRPC1 was expressed on the same level in P0 and P2 chondrocytes while gene expression of TRPC3 and TRPC6 was elevated in passage 2 cells. TRPM5, TRPM7, and TRPV1 displayed an enhanced gene expression in freshly isolated chondrocytes. Immunofluorescence signal intensity of all four investigated TRP proteins was consistent with the corresponding gene expression data. In the present study, a correlation between the appearance of some members of the TRP ion channel family and the state of de-differentiation of osteoarthritic articular chondrocytes was shown. A possible direct involvement in the process of chondrocyte de-differentiation has to be investigated in further studies.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aggrecans / genetics
  • Aggrecans / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured / metabolism*
  • Chondrocytes* / cytology
  • Chondrocytes* / physiology
  • Collagen Type I / genetics
  • Collagen Type I / metabolism
  • Collagen Type II / genetics
  • Collagen Type II / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis* / metabolism
  • Osteoarthritis* / pathology
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism*
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels / genetics
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels / metabolism*


  • Aggrecans
  • Collagen Type I
  • Collagen Type II
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels