Objective: To study the effect of bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP-2) on articular cartilage proteoglycan (PG) synthesis in vivo and to investigate whether BMP-2 is able to counteract the effects of interleukin-1 (IL-1) on articular cartilage PG synthesis and content.
Methods: BMP-2 alone or in combination with IL-1alpha was injected into murine knee joints. PG synthesis was measured by 35S-sulfate incorporation using an ex vivo method or autoradiography. Cartilage PG content was analyzed by measuring Safranin O staining intensity on histologic sections.
Results: BMP-2 appeared to be a potent stimulator of articular cartilage PG synthesis in vivo. However, BMP-2 was not able to counteract the deleterious effects of IL-1alpha on articular cartilage PG synthesis and content. In addition, intraarticular injections of BMP-2 induced chondrophytes.
Conclusion: Although BMP-2 is a very potent stimulator of cartilage PG synthesis in vivo, the therapeutic applications of BMP-2 are limited due to the inability of BMP-2 to counteract the effects of IL-1 and the induction of chondrophytes.