Objective: We have examined the occurrence of the inflammation-associated inter-alpha-trypsin inhibitor (IαI) components, bikunin, heavy chain (HC)1 and HC2 in normal cartilage and osteoarthritis (OA) cartilage and synovial fluids. Design/methods: Cartilage extracts from normal donors and late-stage OA patients, and synovial fluids from OA patients were studied by Western blot with multiple antibodies to bikunin, HC1 and HC2. Cell and matrix localization was determined by immunohistochemistry and mRNA by RT-PCR. Results: Bikunin·chondroitin sulfate (CS) and IαI were abundant in OA cartilages, but virtually undetectable in normal. In both OA and normal cartilages, HCs were largely present in a novel C-terminally truncated 50-kDa form, with most, if not all of these being attached to CS on a proteoglycan other than bikunin. Synovial fluids from OA patients contained bikunin·CS and full-length (∼90 kDa) HCs linked to hyaluronan (HA) as HC·HA (SHAP·HA). Immunohistochemistry showed intracellular and cell-associated staining for bikunin and HCs, consistent with their synthesis by superficial zone chondrocytes. PCR on multiple human normal and OA cartilage samples detected transcripts for HC1 and HC2 but not for bikunin. In OA cartilages, immunostaining was predominantly matrix-associated, being most intense in regions with a pannus-like fibrotic overgrowth. Conclusion: The truncated structure of HCs, their attachment to a proteoglycan other than bikunin, PCR data and intracellular staining are all consistent with synthesis of HC1 and HC2 by human articular chondrocytes. The presence of bikunin·CS and IαI in OA cartilage, but not in normal, appears to be due to diffusional uptake and retention through fibrillated (but not deeply fissured) cartilage surfaces.
- Chondroitin sulfate
- Inter-alpha-trypsin inhibitor
- Synovial fluid
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine