Objective: To analyze the in vivo compartmental expression of collagenases 1 and 3 (MMP-1 and MMP-13) in the Hartley guinea pig model of spontaneously occurring osteoarthritis (OA) for the purpose of elucidating their roles in the pathogenesis of OA.
Methods: Competitive reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and immunohistochemistry quantification of messenger RNA (mRNA) and protein levels in medial and lateral tibial cartilage obtained from the knee joints of 2-month-old (no OA) and 12-month-old (OA) guinea pigs.
Results: The patterns of mRNA expression of collagenases 1 and 3 varied with the age of the animal and the compartment of the knee. We also found focal areas of collagenase 1 and collagenase 3 proteins localized to the extracellular matrix of OA lesion sites, coincident with three-quarter/one-quarter collagen cleavage. Collagenase 3 protein was also abundant throughout the medial tibial cartilage of 2-month-old animals.
Conclusion: This represents the first description of bona fide collagenase 1 in a rodent species. Recent evidence, however, based on analysis of mitochondrial DNA homologies, suggests that the guinea pig is not a member of the order Rodentia and may be more closely allied with lagomorphs. This taxonomic controversy leaves open to question the issue of the expression of collagenase 1 in other rodents, such as mice and rats. The presence of active collagenases 1 and 3 at OA lesion sites is consistent with an important role of these enzymes in the cartilage degradation of OA in guinea pigs. The expression of collagenase 3 in medial tibial cartilage from 2-month-old guinea pigs may signify a role of this enzyme in cartilage remodeling with growth and development, or it may represent an early molecular manifestation of OA.