Objective: To review the literature on the role and regulation of chondrocyte terminal differentiation (hypertrophy-like changes) in osteoarthritis (OA) and to integrate this in a conceptual model of primary OA development.
Methods: Papers investigating chondrocyte terminal differentiation in human OA cartilage and experimental models of OA were recapitulated and discussed. Focus has been on the occurrence of hypertrophy-like changes in chondrocytes and the factors described to play a role in regulation of chondrocyte hypertrophy-like changes in OA.
Results: Chondrocyte hypertrophy-like changes are reported in both human OA and experimental OA models by most investigators. These changes play a crucial part in the OA disease process by protease-mediated cartilage degradation. We propose that altered chondrocyte behavior and concomitant cartilage degradation result in a disease-amplifying loop, leading to a mixture of disease stages and cellular responses within an OA joint.
Conclusion: Chondrocyte hypertrophy-like changes play a role in early and late stage OA. Since not all cells in an OA joint are synchronized, inhibition of hypertrophy-like changes might be a therapeutic target to slow down further OA progression.
Copyright Â© 2011 Osteoarthritis Research Society International. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.