Proteomic comparison of osteoarthritic and reference human menisci using data-independent acquisition mass spectrometry

Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2020 Aug;28(8):1092-1101. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2020.05.001. Epub 2020 May 11.


Objective: Recent research in knee osteoarthritis (OA) highlights the role of the meniscus in OA pathology. Our aim was to compare the proteomes of medial and lateral menisci from end-stage medial compartment knee OA patients, with reference menisci from knee-healthy deceased donors, using mass spectrometry.

Design: Tissue plugs of Ø3 mm were obtained from the posterior horns of the lateral and medial menisci from one knee of 10 knee-healthy deceased donors and 10 patients undergoing knee replacement. Proteins were extracted and prepared for mass spectrometric analysis. Statistical analysis was conducted on abundance data that was log2-transformed, using a linear mixed effects model and evaluated using pathway analysis.

Results: We identified a total of 835 proteins in all samples, of which 331 were included in the statistical analysis. The largest differences could be seen between the medial menisci from OA patients and references, with most proteins showing higher intensities in the medial menisci from OA patients. Several matrix proteins, e.g., matrix metalloproteinase 3 (MMP3) (4.3 times higher values [95%CI 1.8, 10.6]), TIMP1 (3.5 [1.4, 8.5]), asporin (4.1 [1.7, 10.0]) and versican (4.4 [1.8, 10.9]), all showed higher abundance in medial menisci from OA patients compared to medial reference menisci. OA medial menisci also showed increased activation of several pathways involved in inflammation.

Conclusion: An increase in protein abundance for proteins such as MMP and TIMP1 in the medial menisci from OA patients suggests simultaneous activation of both catabolic and anabolic processes that warrants further attention.

Keywords: Extracellular matrix; Mass spectrometry; Meniscus; Osteoarthritis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 3 / metabolism
  • Menisci, Tibial / metabolism*
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / metabolism*
  • Proteomics*
  • Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloproteinase-1 / metabolism
  • Versicans / metabolism


  • ASPN protein, human
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • TIMP1 protein, human
  • Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloproteinase-1
  • VCAN protein, human
  • Versicans
  • MMP3 protein, human
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 3