S100A12 is a member of the S100 protein family, which are intracellular calcium-binding proteins. Although there are many reports on the involvement of S100A12 in inflammatory diseases, its presence in osteoarthritic cartilage has not been reported. The purpose of this study was to investigate the expression of S100A12 in human articular cartilage in osteoarthritis (OA) and to evaluate the role of S100A12 in human OA chondrocytes. We analyzed S100A12 expression by immunohistochemical staining of cartilage samples obtained from OA and non-OA patients. In addition, chondrocytes were isolated from knee cartilage of OA patients and treated with recombinant human S100A12. Real-time RT-PCR was performed to analyze mRNA expression. Protein production of matrix metalloproteinase 13 (MMP-13) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in the culture medium were measured by ELISA. Immunohistochemical analyses revealed that S100A12 expression was markedly increased in OA cartilages. Protein production and mRNA expression of MMP-13 and VEGF in cultured OA chondrocytes were significantly increased by treatment with exogenous S100A12. These increases in mRNA expression and protein production were suppressed by administration of soluble receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE). Both p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) inhibitors also suppressed the increases in mRNA expression and protein production of MMP-13 and VEGF. We demonstrated marked up-regulation of S100A12 expression in human OA cartilages. Exogenous S100A12 increased the production of MMP-13 and VEGF in human OA chondrocytes. Our data indicate the possible involvement of S100A12 in the development of OA by up-regulating MMP-13 and VEGF via p38 MAPK and NF-κB pathways.
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