Objective: Lubricin, also referred to as superficial zone protein and PRG4, is a synovial glycoprotein that supplies a friction-resistant, antiadhesive coating to the surfaces of articular cartilage, thereby protecting against arthritis-associated tissue wear and degradation. This study was undertaken to generate and characterize a novel recombinant lubricin protein construct, LUB:1, and to evaluate its therapeutic efficacy following intraarticular delivery in a rat model of osteoarthritis (OA).
Methods: Binding and localization of LUB:1 to cartilage surfaces was assessed by immunohistochemistry. The cartilage-lubricating properties of LUB:1 were determined using a custom friction testing apparatus. A cell-binding assay was performed to quantify the ability of LUB:1 to prevent cell adhesion. Efficacy studies were conducted in a rat meniscal tear model of OA. One week after the surgical induction of OA, LUB:1 or phosphate buffered saline vehicle was administered by intraarticular injection for 4 weeks, with dosing intervals of either once per week or 3 times per week. OA pathology scores were determined by histologic analysis.
Results: LUB:1 was shown to bind effectively to cartilage surfaces, and facilitated both cartilage boundary lubrication and inhibition of synovial cell adhesion. Treatment of rat knee joints with LUB:1 resulted in significant disease-modifying, chondroprotective effects during the progression of OA, by markedly reducing cartilage degeneration and structural damage.
Conclusion: Our findings demonstrate the potential use of recombinant lubricin molecules in novel biotherapeutic approaches to the treatment of OA and associated cartilage abnormalities.