Publications in 2019

Int J Mol Sci 2019 Jun 26;20(13):3127. doi: 10.3390/ijms20133127.

Norepinephrine Inhibits Synovial Adipose Stem Cell Chondrogenesis via α2a-Adrenoceptor-Mediated ERK1/2 Activation
Karima El Bagdadi, Frank Zaucke, Andrea Meurer, Rainer H Straub, Zsuzsa Jenei-Lanzl

Abstract: In recent years, first evidences emerged that sympathetic neurotransmitters influence osteoarthritis (OA) manifestation. Joint-resident stem cells might contribute to cartilage repair, however, their chondrogenic function is reduced. The neurotransmitter norepinephrine (NE) was detected in the synovial fluid of trauma and OA patients. Therefore, the aim of this study was to analyse how NE influences the chondrogenesis of synovial adipose tissue-derived stem cells (sASCs). sASCs were isolated from knee-OA patients synovia. After adrenoceptor (AR) expression analysis, proliferation and chondrogenic differentiation in presence of NE and/or α- and β-AR antagonist were investigated. Cell count, viability, chondrogenic and hypertophic gene expression, sulfated glycosaminoglycan (sGAG) and type II collagen content were determined. Key AR-dependent signaling (ERK1/2, PKA) was analyzed via western blot. sASC expressed α1A-, α1B-, α2A-, α2B-, α2C-, and β2-AR in monolayer and pellet culture. NE did not affect proliferation and viability, but 10-7 and 10-6 M NE significantly reduced sGAG and type II collagen content as well as ERK1/2 phosphorylation. These effects were fully reversed by yohimbine (α2-AR antagonist). Our study confirms the important role of NE in sASC chondrogenic function and provides new insights in OA pathophysiology. Future studies might help to develop novel therapeutic options targeting neuroendocrine pathways for OA treatment.

Eur Cell Mater 2019 May 6;37:360-381. doi: 10.22203/eCM.v037a22.

Cells under pressure - the relationship between hydrostatic pressure and mesenchymal stem cell chondrogenesis
G Pattappa, J Zellner, B Johnstone, D Docheva, P Angele

Abstract: Early osteoarthritis (OA), characterised by cartilage defects, is a degenerative disease that greatly affects the adult population. Cell-based tissue engineering methods are being explored as a solution for the treatment of these chondral defects. Chondrocytes are already in clinical use but other cell types with chondrogenic properties, such as mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), are being researched. However, present methods for differentiating these cells into stable articular-cartilage chondrocytes that contribute to joint regeneration are not effective, despite extensive investigation. Environmental stimuli, such as mechanical forces, influence chondrogenic response and are beneficial with respect to matrix formation. In vivo, the cartilage is subjected to multiaxial loading involving compressive, tensile, shear and fluid flow and cellular response. Tissue formation mechanobiology is being intensively studied in the cartilage tissue-engineering research field. The study of the effects of hydrostatic pressure on cartilage formation belongs to the large area of mechanobiology. During cartilage loading, interstitial fluid is pressurised and the surrounding matrix delays pressure loss by reducing fluid flow rate from pressurised regions. This fluid pressurisation is known as hydrostatic pressure, where a uniform stress around the cell occurs without cellular deformation. In vitro studies, examining chondrocytes under hydrostatic pressure, have described its anabolic effect and similar studies have evaluated the effect of hydrostatic pressure on MSC chondrogenesis. The present review summarises the results of these studies and discusses the mechanisms through which hydrostatic pressure exerts its effects.

Osteoarthritis Cartilage 2019 Aug;27(8):1208-1218. Epub 2019 Apr 19. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2019.04.010.

Mechanosensitive MiRs regulated by anabolic and catabolic loading of human cartilage
N Hecht, B Johnstone, P Angele, T Walker, W Richter

Objective: Elucidation of whether miRs are involved in mechanotransduction pathways by which cartilage is maintained or disturbed has a particular importance in our understanding of osteoarthritis (OA) pathophysiology. The aim was to investigate whether mechanical loading influences global miR-expression in human chondrocytes and to identify mechanosensitive miRs responding to beneficial and non-beneficial loading regimes as potential to obtain valuable diagnostic or therapeutic targets to advance OA-treatment.

Method: Mature tissue-engineered human cartilage was subjected to two distinct loading regimes either stimulating or suppressing proteoglycan-synthesis, before global miR microarray analysis. Promising candidate miRs were selected, re-evaluated by qRT-PCR and tested for expression in human healthy vs OA cartilage samples.

Results: After anabolic loading, miR microarray profiling revealed minor changes in miR-expression while catabolic stimulation produced a significant regulation of 80 miRs with a clear separation of control and compressed samples by hierarchical clustering. Cross-testing of selected miRs revealed that miR-221, miR-6872-3p, miR-6723-5p were upregulated by both loading conditions while others (miR-199b-5p, miR-1229-5p, miR-1275, miR-4459, miR-6891-5p, miR-7150) responded specifically after catabolic loading. Mechanosensitivity of miR-221 correlated with pERK1/2-activation induced by both loading conditions. The miR-response to loading was transient and a constitutive deregulation of mechano-miRs in OA vs healthy articular cartilage was not observed.

Conclusions: MiRs with broader vs narrower mechanosensitivity were discovered and the first group of mechanosensitive miRs characteristic for non-beneficial loading was defined that may shape the proteome differentially when cartilage tissue is disturbed. The findings prompt future investigations into miR-relevance for mechano-responsive pathways and the corresponding miR-target molecules.

Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Mar 11;20(5):1212. doi: 10.3390/ijms20051212.

Role of Norepinephrine in IL-1β-Induced Chondrocyte Dedifferentiation under Physioxia
Saskia Speichert, Natalie Molotkov, Karima El Bagdadi, Andrea Meurer, Frank Zaucke, Zsuzsa Jenei-Lanzl

Abstract: As part of the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis (OA), chondrocytes lose their phenotype and become hypertrophic, or dedifferentiate, mainly driven by interleukin-1β (IL-1β). The contribution of other factors to the dedifferentiation process is not completely understood. Recent studies suggested a dose-dependent role for the sympathetic neurotransmitter norepinephrine (NE) in OA chondrocyte metabolism. Therefore, the aim of this study was to analyze the contribution of NE (10-8 M, 10-6 M) to human articular OA chondrocyte dedifferentiation in the absence or presence of IL-1β (0.5 ng/mL). Here, we demonstrate that OA chondrocytes express α2A-, α2C- and β2-adrenoceptors (AR) and show the characteristic shift towards a fibroblast-like shape at day 7 in physioxic monolayer culture. NE alone did not affect morphology but, in combination with IL-1β, markedly accelerated this shift. Moderate glycosaminoglycan (GAG) staining was observed in untreated and NE-treated cells, while IL-1β strongly decreased GAG deposition. IL-1β alone or in combination with NE decreased SOX9, type II collagen, COMP, and aggrecan, and induced MMP13 and ADAMTS4 gene expression, indicating an accelerated dedifferentiation. NE alone did not influence gene expression and did not modulate IL-1β-mediated effects. In conclusion, these results indicate that low-grade inflammation exerts a dominant effect on chondrocyte dedifferentiation and should be targeted early in OA therapy.

Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Feb 12;20(3):770. doi: 10.3390/ijms20030770.

Developmental Transformation and Reduction of Connective Cavities within the Subchondral Bone
Shahed Taheri, Thomas Winkler, Lia Sabrina Schenk, Carl Neuerburg, Sebastian Felix Baumbach, Jozef Zustin, Wolfgang Lehmann, Arndt F Schilling

Abstract: It is widely accepted that the subchondral bone (SCB) plays a crucial role in the physiopathology of osteoarthritis (OA), although its contribution is still debated. Much of the pre-clinical research on the role of SCB is concentrated on comparative evaluations of healthy vs. early OA or early OA vs. advanced OA cases, while neglecting how pure maturation could change the SCB's microstructure. To assess the transformations of the healthy SCB from young age to early adulthood, we examined the microstructure and material composition of the medial condyle of the femur in calves (three months) and cattle (18 months) for the calcified cartilage (CC) and the subchondral bone plate (SCBP). The entire subchondral zone (SCZ) was significantly thicker in cattle compared to calves, although the proportion of the CC and SCBP thicknesses were relatively constant. The trabecular number (Tb.N.) and the connectivity density (Conn.D) were significantly higher in the deeper region of the SCZ, while the bone volume fraction (BV/TV), and the degree of anisotropy (DA) were more affected by age rather than the region. The mineralization increased within the first 250 µm of the SCZ irrespective of sample type, and became stable thereafter. Cattle exhibited higher mineralization than calves at all depths, with a mean Ca/P ratio of 1.59 and 1.64 for calves and cattle, respectively. Collectively, these results indicate that the SCZ is highly dynamic at early age, and CC is the most dynamic layer of the SCZ.

Int J Mol Sci 2019 Jan 30;20(3):585. doi: 10.3390/ijms20030585.

Impact of Mechanical Load on the Expression Profile of Synovial Fibroblasts from Patients with and without Osteoarthritis
Agnes Schröder, Ute Nazet, Dominique Muschter, Susanne Grässel, Peter Proff, Christian Kirschneck

Abstract: Osteoarthritis (OA) affects the integrity of the entire joint including the synovium. The most abundant cells in the synovium are fibroblasts (SF). Excessive mechanical loading might contribute to OA pathogenesis. Here, we investigate the effects of mechanical loading on SF derived from non-OA (N-SF) and OA patients (OA-SF). We treated N-SF and OA-SF with or without mechanical loading for 48h after 24h of preincubation. Then we assessed gene and protein expression of proinflammatory factors (TNFα, COX-2, PG-E2, IL-6), extracellular matrix (ECM) components (COL1, FN1) and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) via RT-qPCR, ELISA, DMMB assay and HPLC. Mechanical loading significantly increased TNFα and PG-E2 secretion by N-SF and OA-SF, whereas in OA-SF IL-6 secretion was reduced. COL1 and FN1 secretion were downregulated in N-SF during loading. OA-SF secreted less COL1 compared to N-SF under control conditions. In contrast, OA-SF in general expressed more FN1. GAG synthesis was upregulated in N-SF, but not in OA-SF during loading with OA-SF displaying a higher charge density than N-SF. Mechanical loading enhanced proinflammatory factor expression and GAG synthesis and decreased secretion of ECM components in N-SFs, indicating a contributing role of SF to OA development.

Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Jan 24;20(3):503. doi: 10.3390/ijms20030503.

Sensory Neuropeptides and their Receptors Participate in Mechano-Regulation of Murine Macrophages
Dominique Muschter, Anna-Sophie Beiderbeck, Tanja Späth, Christian Kirschneck, Agnes Schröder, Susanne Grässel

Abstract: This study aimed to analyze if the sensory neuropeptide SP (SP) and the neurokinin receptor 1 (NK1R) are involved in macrophage mechano-transduction, similar to chondrocytes, and if alpha-calcitonin gene-related peptide (αCGRP) and the CGRP receptor (CRLR/Ramp1) show comparable activity. Murine RAW264.7 macrophages were subjected to a cyclic stretch for 1⁻3 days and 4 h/day. Loading and neuropeptide effects were analyzed for gene and protein expression of neuropeptides and their receptors, adhesion, apoptosis, proliferation and ROS activity. Murine bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMM) were isolated after surgical osteoarthritis (OA) induction and proliferation, apoptosis and osteoclastogenesis were analyzed in response to loading. Loading induced NK1R and CRLR/Ramp1 gene expression and altered protein expression in RAW264.7 macrophages. SP protein and mRNA level decreased after loading whereas αCGRP mRNA expression was stabilized. SP reduced adhesion in loaded RAW264.7 macrophages and both neuropeptides initially increased the ROS activity followed by a time-dependent suppression. OA induction sensitized BMM to caspase 3/7 mediated apoptosis after loading. Both sensory neuropeptides, SP and αCGRP, and their receptors are involved in murine macrophage mechano-transduction affecting neuropeptide impact on adhesion and ROS activity. OA induction altered BMM apoptosis in response to loading indicate that OA-associated biomechanical alterations might affect the macrophage population.

Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Jan 23;20(3):484. doi: 10.3390/ijms20030484.

The Importance of Physioxia in Mesenchymal Stem Cell Chondrogenesis and the Mechanisms Controlling Its Response
Girish Pattappa, Brian Johnstone, Johannes Zellner, Denitsa Docheva, Peter Angele

Abstract: Articular cartilage covers the surface of synovial joints and enables joint movement. However, it is susceptible to progressive degeneration with age that can be accelerated by either previous joint injury or meniscectomy. This degenerative disease is known as osteoarthritis (OA) and it greatly affects the adult population. Cell-based tissue engineering provides a possible solution for treating OA at its earliest stages, particularly focal cartilage lesions. A candidate cell type for treating these focal defects are Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs). However, present methods for differentiating these cells towards the chondrogenic lineage lead to hypertrophic chondrocytes and bone formation in vivo. Environmental stimuli that can stabilise the articular chondrocyte phenotype without compromising tissue formation have been extensively investigated. One factor that has generated intensive investigation in MSC chondrogenesis is low oxygen tension or physioxia (2⁻5% oxygen). In vivo articular cartilage resides at oxygen tensions between 1⁻4%, and in vitro results suggest that these conditions are beneficial for MSC expansion and chondrogenesis, particularly in suppressing the cartilage hypertrophy. This review will summarise the current literature regarding the effects of physioxia on MSC chondrogenesis with an emphasis on the pathways that control tissue formation and cartilage hypertrophy.

Cell Signal. 2019 Jan;53:212-223. Epub 2018 Oct 9. doi: 10.1016/j.cellsig.2018.10.005.

Interleukin-1β signaling in osteoarthritis - chondrocytes in focus
Zsuzsa Jenei-Lanzl, Andrea Meurer, Frank Zaucke

Abstract: Osteoarthritis (OA) can be regarded as a chronic, painful and degenerative disease that affects all tissues of a joint and one of the major endpoints being loss of articular cartilage. In most cases, OA is associated with a variable degree of synovial inflammation. A variety of different cell types including chondrocytes, synovial fibroblasts, adipocytes, osteoblasts and osteoclasts as well as stem and immune cells are involved in catabolic and inflammatory processes but also in attempts to counteract the cartilage loss. At the molecular level, these changes are regulated by a complex network of proteolytic enzymes, chemokines and cytokines (for review: [1]). Here, interleukin-1 signaling (IL-1) plays a central role and its effects on the different cell types involved in OA are discussed in this review with a special focus on the chondrocyte.


Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Susanne Grässel

University Hospital Regensburg

Orthopedic Surgery, Div. Experimental Orthopedics

Biopark I - ZMB

Am Biopark 9

D-93053 Regensburg


Tel.: +49 (0) 941 943 5065

Fax: +49 (0) 941 943 5066