Key words: apoptosis, articular chondrocyte, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract: To investigate the relationship of chondrocyte apoptosis and cartilage destruction, we performed in situ nick end labeling (ISNEL), electron microscopy, and im-munohistochemistry against apoptosis-related proteins, p53 and c-myc, in the articular cartilages of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA; n = 12) and osteoarthritis (OA; n = 12), and in control articular cartilages from patients with femoral neck fracture (n = 8). The distribution of stained chondrocytes was evaluated semiquantitatively in relation to the degree of cartilage destruction. ISNEL-positive chondrocytes with apoptotic morphological features were identified in a relatively early phase of cartilage destruction, and correlated positively and significantly in a number with the degree of cartilage degeneration. Comparison of RA and OA revealed a significantly greater number of ISNEL-positive chondrocytes in RA cartilage. In contrast, the specimens of normal subjects contained few cells with apoptotic changes. Similarly to the distribution of ISNEL staining, the expression of p53 and c-myc proteins was observed in chondrocytes within the degraded lesions, and showed a positive correlation with the number of ISNEL-stained cells. These results suggest that the degree of chondrocyte apoptosis is closely related to cartilage destruction and that chondrocytes in RA more readily undergo apoptosis than those in OA. The expression of p53 and c-myc proteins in ISNEL-positive areas may reflect the involvement of these proteins in the apoptotic process in articular chondrocytes in inflammatory arthritis.
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