Proteomic characterization of the normal human medial meniscus body using data-independent acquisition mass spectrometry

J Orthop Res. 2020 Aug;38(8):1735-1745. doi: 10.1002/jor.24602. Epub 2020 Jan 31.


Recent research suggests an important role of the meniscus in the development of knee osteoarthritis. We, therefore, aimed to analyze the proteome of the normal human meniscus body, and specifically to gain new knowledge on global protein expression in the different radial zones. Medial menisci were retrieved from the right knees of 10 human cadaveric donors, from which we cut a 2 mm radial slice from the mid-portion of the meniscal body. This slice was further divided into three zones: inner, middle, and peripheral. Proteins were extracted and prepared for mass spectrometric analysis using data-independent acquisition. We performed subsequent data searches using Spectronaut Pulsar and used fixed-effect linear regression models for statistical analysis. We identified 638 proteins and after statistical analysis, we observed the greatest number of differentially expressed proteins between the inner and peripheral zones (163 proteins) and the peripheral and middle zones (136 proteins), with myocilin being the protein with the largest fold-change in both comparisons. Chondroadherin was one of eight proteins that differed between the inner and middle zones. Functional enrichment analyses showed that the peripheral one-third of the medial meniscus body differed substantially from the two more centrally located zones, which were more similar to each other. This is probably related to the higher content of cells and vascularization in the peripheral zone, whereas the middle and inner zones of the meniscal body appear to be more similar to hyaline cartilage, with high levels of extracellular matrix proteins such as aggrecan and collagen type II.

Keywords: data-independent acquisition; meniscus; proteomics.