We identified significant expression of the matricellular protein, DEL1, in hypertrophic and mature cartilage during development. We hypothesized that this tissue-specific expression indicated a biological role for DEL1 in cartilage biology.Del1 KO and WT mice had cartilage thickness evaluated by histomorphometry. Additional mice underwent medial meniscectomy to induce osteoarthritis, and were assayed at 1 week for apoptosis by TUNEL staining and at 8 weeks for histology and OA scoring. In vitro proliferation and apoptosis assays were performed on primary chondrocytes.Deletion of the Del1 gene led to decreased amounts of cartilage in the ears and knee joints in mice with otherwise normal skeletal morphology. Destabilization of the knee led to more severe OA compared to controls. In vitro, DEL1 blocked apoptosis in chondrocytes.Osteoarthritis is among the most prevalent diseases worldwide and increasing in incidence as our population ages. Initiation begins with an injury resulting in the release of inflammatory mediators. Excessive production of inflammatory mediators results in apoptosis of chondrocytes. Because of the limited ability of chondrocytes to regenerate, articular cartilage deteriorates leading to the clinical symptoms including severe pain and decreased mobility. No treatments effectively block the progression of OA. We propose that direct modulation of chondrocyte apoptosis is a key variable in the etiology of OA, and therapies aimed at preventing this important step represent a new class of regenerative medicine targets.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0160684
View details for PubMedID 27505251