Glutathione as a mediator of cartilage oxidative stress resistance and resilience during aging and osteoarthritis

Connect Tissue Res. 2020 Jan;61(1):34-47. doi: 10.1080/03008207.2019.1665035. Epub 2019 Sep 15.


Purpose: An underlying cause of osteoarthritis (OA) is the inability of chondrocytes to maintain homeostasis in response to changing stress conditions. The purpose of this article was to review and experimentally evaluate oxidative stress resistance and resilience concepts in cartilage using glutathione redox homeostasis as an example. This framework may help identify novel approaches for promoting chondrocyte homeostasis during aging and obesity.Materials and Methods: Changes in glutathione content and redox ratio were evaluated in three models of chondrocyte stress: (1) age- and tissue-specific changes in joint tissues of 10 and 30-month old F344BN rats, including ex vivo patella culture experiments to evaluate N-acetylcysteine dependent resistance to interleukin-1beta; (2) effect of different durations and patterns of cyclic compressive loading in bovine cartilage on glutathione stress resistance and resilience pathways; (3) time-dependent changes in GSH:GSSG in primary chondrocytes from wild-type and Sirt3 deficient mice challenged with the pro-oxidant menadione.Results: Glutathione was more abundant in cartilage than meniscus or infrapatellar fat pad, although cartilage was also more susceptible to age-related glutathione oxidation. Glutathione redox homeostasis was sensitive to the duration of compressive loading such that load-induced oxidation required unloaded periods to recover and increase total antioxidant capacity. Exposure to a pro-oxidant stress enhanced stress resistance by increasing glutathione content and GSH:GSSG ratio, especially in Sirt3 deficient cells. However, the rate of recovery, a marker of resilience, was delayed without Sirt3.Conclusions: OA-related models of cartilage stress reveal multiple mechanisms by which glutathione provides oxidative stress resistance and resilience.

Keywords: Osteoarthritis; cartilage; glutathione; oxidative stress; resilience; stress resistance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Aging / pathology
  • Animals
  • Cartilage, Articular / metabolism*
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology
  • Chondrocytes / metabolism*
  • Chondrocytes / pathology
  • Glutathione / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Osteoarthritis / metabolism*
  • Osteoarthritis / pathology
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Rats


  • Glutathione