Gene expression of single articular chondrocytes

Sriram V. Eleswarapu, Nic D. Leipzig, Kyriacos A. Athanasiou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Although previous studies in the field of tissue engineering have provided important information about articular cartilage, their conclusions are based on population averages and do not account for variations in cell subpopulations. To obtain a precise understanding of chondrocytes, we investigated the effects of cartilage zone and seeding duration on single chondrocyte gene expression to select an optimal zone for tissue engineering (Phase I), followed by an evaluation of growth factor exposure on the zone selected in Phase I (Phase II). In Phase I, superficial and middle/deep bovine articular chondrocytes were seeded in monolayers for 3 or 18 h. In Phase II, middle/deep chondrocytes (selected in Phase I) received 100 ng/ml insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) for 3 h. Real-time reverse transcription/polymerase chain reaction was used to quantify the abundance of D-glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) and the relative abundances of aggrecan, collagens I and II, cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP), matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1), and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP-1). GAPDH varied zonally, but neither time nor IGF-I had an effect on it, suggesting that GAPDH is a suitable housekeeping gene for comparisons within each zone, but not across zones. IGF-I increased the expression of aggrecan and collagen II in middle/deep chondrocytes seeded for 18 h. TIMP-1 expression increased with time in control cells, suggesting that chondrocytes enter a matrix protective state after seeding. IGF-I diminished this effect, suggesting that treatment with IGF-I refocuses chondrocytes on matrix production rather than on protection from metalloproteinases. Concomitant to increasing TIMP-1, MMP-1 was detectable by 18 h in superficial cells, providing further evidence of a trend toward matrix degradation with time. Collagen I was undetected in all cells, and no differences were observed for COMP, confirming that no dedifferentiation or osteoarthritic changes occurred. Taken together, these results establish a unique understanding of individual chondrocyte behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-54
Number of pages12
JournalCell and Tissue Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Bovine
  • Cartilage
  • Chondrocyte
  • IGF-I
  • Real-time RT-PCR
  • Zones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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