To investigate the mechanism of the inhibitory action of high molecular weight hyaluronic acid (HA) on production of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) induced by IL-6 in human chondrocyte. Human chondrocyte were stimulated by interleukin-6 (IL-6) and soluble IL-6 receptor (sIL-6R) with or without HA for 24h and the productions of MMP-1, MMP-3 and MMP-13 were measured. Phosphorylations of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) and mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK) in IL-6+sIL-6R-treated chondrocytes were detected by western blotting. IL-6+sIL-6R induced MMP-1, MMP-3 and MMP-13 productions from human chondrocyte. Inhibition of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway resulted in marked decreases of MMP-1, MMP-3 and MMP-13 induction by IL-6. In contrast, STAT inhibition only slightly attenuated the production of MMPs. HA inhibited MMP-1, MMP-3 and MMP-13 induction by IL-6, which was reversed by the addition of anti-CD44 antibody but not anti-ICAM-1 antibody. Pre-treatment of cells with HA reduced the phosphorylation of ERK, but not MEK. Expression levels of mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase-1 (MKP-1) in HA-treated chondrocytes were assessed by western blotting. HA induced the expression of MKP-1, a negative regulator of ERK1/2 in IL-6+sIL-6R-treated or untreated chondrocytes, and the MKP-1 inhibitor and MKP-1 siRNA reversed the HA-induced suppression of MMP induction by IL-6. Our study is the first to demonstrate that HA suppressed MMPs induction by IL-6 in human chondrocyte via MKP-1 induction through CD44 signaling.
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