Objective This study investigated the ability of endogenous lubricin secretion to restore joint health following a brief <21 day, postnatal lubricin-null state, in a C57BL/6J Prg4 gene trap (GT) mouse under the control of cre-recombinase. Previously we showed that re-expression of lubricin at 21 days was partly restorative of joint lubrication. Design The tibio-femoral joints of adult C57BL/6J mice containing lubricin, lacking lubricin, and postnatally lacking lubricin until restoration of lubricin expression at 7 days or 14 days of age were evaluated ex vivo. At 8-weeks of age, whole joint coefficient of friction (COF), and caspase-3 activation were measured and the tibial-femoral joints histologically analyzed for degenerative changes, following progressive cyclic loading. The peroxynitrite content of femoral head cartilage from these mice prior to cyclic loading was measured. Results Mice that underwent gene recombination at 7 and 14 days of age did not reestablish low COF as joint cycling time increased and were histopathologically indistinguishable from the joints of lubricin-null littermates. However, cartilage from tibio-femoral joints that underwent recombination at 7 and 14 days of age had significantly fewer caspase-3 positive cells and significantly reduced peroxynitrite content compared to lubricin-null littermates. Conclusions The biological effects of lubricin, which include limiting inflammation via peroxynitrite production and caspase-3 activation, may be achieved without completely restituting low COF. However, fully recapitulating low COF may require undamaged cartilage surfaces or absence of biofouling, which may interfere with the activity of lubricin.
Larson, K. M., Zhang, L., Badger, G. J., & Jay, G. D. (2017). Early genetic restoration of lubricin expression in transgenic mice mitigates chondrocyte peroxynitrite release and caspase-3 activation. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 25(9), 1488–1495. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joca.2017.05.012