Objective: To investigate the effects of the cartilage-derived morphogenetic proteins (CDMPs) in an in vitro cartilage explant model that mimics the chondrocytic response to matrix depletion, and to demonstrate their presence in articular cartilage.
Methods: Adult bovine articular cartilage and postmortem specimens from adult human donors with and without osteoarthritic (OA) lesions were stained by immunohistochemistry using polyclonal antibodies specific for CDMP-1 and CDMP-2. Extracts of bovine articular cartilage were analyzed by Western blotting for the presence of the CDMPs. Bovine articular cartilage explants were depleted of their matrix by trypsin digestion, followed by a 7-day culture period in a chemically defined serum-free basal medium (BM), with or without recombinant CDMPs 1 and 2. The metabolic activity of chondrocytes was measured by 35S-sulfate incorporation into macromolecules. Newly synthesized proteoglycans (PGs) were analyzed using Sephacryl S-500 HR gel chromatography. The expression levels of the messenger RNA (mRNA) for chondrogenic markers were investigated by Northern analysis.
Results: CDMP-1 and CDMP-2 were detected in both bovine and human healthy and OA articular cartilage. Treatment of matrix-depleted cartilage explants with CDMPs 1 and 2 increased equally the incorporation of 35S-sulfate into PGs compared with tissue maintained in BM. Gel chromatography analysis indicated that aggrecan was the predominant PG species. Northern blot analysis showed that the expression of link protein, type II collagen, and aggrecan mRNA transcripts was not modulated by CDMP treatment.
Conclusion: This study shows the presence of CDMP-1 and CDMP-2 in adult bovine and human articular cartilage. In addition, our in vitro data indicate that CDMPs 1 and 2 stimulate the metabolic activity of articular chondrocytes. Therefore, these signaling molecules may be contributing to the maintenance of the integrity of the joint surface.