Acute loading has minor influence on human articular cartilage gene expression and glycosaminoglycan composition in late-stage knee osteoarthritis: a randomised controlled trial

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Objective: Osteoarthritis (OA) remains clinically challenging. Regular physical exercise improves symptoms though it is unclear whether exercise influences cartilage at the molecular level. Thus, we aimed to determine the effect of acute loading on gene expression and glycosaminoglycan (GAG) content in human OA cartilage. Design: Patients with primary knee OA participated in this single-blind randomised controlled trial initiated 3.5 h prior to scheduled joint replacement surgery with or without loading by performing one bout of resistance exercise (one-legged leg press). Cartilage from the medial tibia condyle was sampled centrally, under the meniscus, and from peripheral osteophytes. Samples were analysed for gene expression by real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, and hyaluronidase-extracted matrix was analysed for GAG composition by immuno- and dimethyl-methylene blue assays. Results: Of 32 patients randomised, 31 completed the intervention: mean age 69 ± 7.5 years (SD), 58% female, BMI 29.4 ± 4.4 kg/m2. Exercise increased chondroitin sulphate extractability [95% CI: 1.01 to 2.46; P = 0.0486] but cartilage relevant gene expression was unchanged. Regionally, the submeniscal area showed higher MMP-3, MMP-13, IGF-1Ea, and CTGF, together with lower lubricin and COMP expression compared to the central condylar region. Further, osteophyte expression of MMP-1, MMP-13, IGF-1Ea, and TGF-β3 was higher than articular cartilage and lower for aggrecan, COMP, and FGF-2. Hyaluronidase-extracted matrix from central condylar cartilage contained more GAGs but less chondroitin sulphate compared to submeniscal cartilage. Conclusion: Acute exercise had minor influence on cartilage GAG dynamics, indicating that osteoarthritic cartilage is not significantly affected by acute exercise. However, the regional differences suggest a chronic mechanical influence on human cartilage. registration number: NCT03410745.

TidsskriftOsteoarthritis and Cartilage
Udgave nummer7
Sider (fra-til)884-893
Antal sider10
StatusUdgivet - 2023

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
This study has received financial support from The Danish Rheumatism Association (AJ & MK), Bispebjerg Hospital Research Grant (AJ), The Nordea Foundation (Healthy Aging Grant) (MK), The Novo Nordisk Foundation (MK), and The Lundbeck Foundation (AJ & MK).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s)

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