Objective: To identify the collagen type IV (Col4) isoform in articular cartilage and to evaluate the expressions of Col4 and laminin in the pericellular matrix (PCM) in damaged cartilage and during cartilage repair.
Design: The Col4 isoform was determined in chondrocytes isolated from 6 patients cultured up to 6 days and in 21% O2 or 1% O2, and the gene expression of Col4 α-chains was investigated. The distribution of Col4 and laminin in traumatically damaged cartilage (n = 7) and clinically failed cartilage repair (microfracture, TruFit, autologous chondrocyte implantation; n = 11) were investigated using immunohistochemistry. Normal human cartilage was used as control (n = 8). The distribution during clinical cartilage repair procedures was investigated in a minipig model with 6-month follow-up (untreated chondral, untreated osteochondral, microfracture, autologous chondrocyte implantation; n = 10).
Results: The Col4 isoform in articular cartilage was characterized as α1α1α2, which is an isoform containing antiangiogenic domains in the NC1-terminals (arresten and canstatin). In normal cartilage, laminin and Col4 was exclusively found in the PCM. High amounts (>50%) of Col4 in the PCM significantly decreased in damaged cartilage (P = 0.004) and clinically failed repair tissue (P < 0.001). Laminin was only found with high expression (>50%) in 4/8 of the normal samples, which was not statistically significantly different from damaged cartilage (P = 0.15) or failed cartilage repair (P = 0.054).
Conclusions: Col4 in cartilage contain antiangiogenic domains and may play a role in the hypoxic environment in articular cartilage. Col4 and laminin was not found in the PCM of damaged and clinically failed repair.
Keywords: articular cartilage; cartilage repair; collagen type IV; laminin.