Pleiotrophin, an embryonic differentiation and growth factor, is expressed in osteoarthritis

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Objective: Pleiotrophin (PTN) is a 15.3 kDa heparin-binding peptide, which is expressed in mesodermal and neuroectodermal cells during development, but rarely in adult tissues. In fetal or juvenile cartilage, PTN is an abundant protein and appears to be involved in chondrocyte differentiation. Since developmentally regulated factors often re-appear in the disease state, we examined PTN expression in cartilage and synovial fluid of patients with osteoarthritis (OA). Methods: PTN mRNA and protein expression was assayed by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and Western blot, the protein was localized by immunohistochemistry and quantified by enzyme-linked immunoassay (ELISA). Results: PTN was undetectable in normal adult cartilage, but PTN mRNA and protein were found in OA. In cartilage from the tibial plateaus of OA patients, PTN could be immunostained in clusters of superficial chondrocytes. In the synovial fluids of OA patients, PTN concentrations were elevated in earlier OA stages, but rarely in late OA stages. Chondrosarcomas were PTN-immunonegative. Conclusions: In addition to certain types of cancer, the embryonic growth and differentiation factor PTN is found also in adults in inflammatory diseases. In OA, PTN is especially expressed in early stages, and PTN concentrations in the synovial fluid could serve as a marker for the progress of the disease. PTN might be involved in cartilage repair in OA, in particular, in earlier stages. © 2003 OsteoArthritis Research Society International. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.




Pufe, T., Bartscher, M., Petersen, W., Tillmann, B., & Mentlein, R. (2003). Pleiotrophin, an embryonic differentiation and growth factor, is expressed in osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 11(4), 260–264.

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