Physiological exercise loading suppresses post-traumatic osteoarthritis progression via an increase in bone morphogenetic proteins expression in an experimental rat knee model

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Abstract

Objective To evaluate the dose–response relationship of exercise loading in the cartilage-subchondral bone (SB) unit in surgically-induced post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA) of the knee. Design Destabilized medial meniscus (DMM) surgery was performed on the right knee of 12-week-old male Wistar rats, and sham surgery was performed on the contralateral knee. Four weeks after the surgery, the animals were subjected to moderate (12 m/min) or intense (21 m/min) treadmill exercises for 30 min/day, 5 days/week for 4 weeks. PTOA development in articular cartilage and SB was examined using histological and immunohistochemical analyses, micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) analysis, and biomechanical testing at 8 weeks after surgery. Gremlin-1 was injected to determine the role of bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling on PTOA development following moderate exercise. Results Moderate exercise increased BMP-2, BMP-4, BMP-6, BMP receptor 2, pSmad-5, and inhibitor of DNA binding protein-1 expression in the superficial zone chondrocytes and suppressed cartilage degeneration, osteophyte growth, SB damage, and osteoclast-mediated SB resorption. However, intense exercise had little effect on BMP expression and even caused progression of these osteoarthritis (OA) changes. Gremlin-1 injection following moderate exercise caused progression of the PTOA development down to the level of the non-exercise DMM-operated knee. Conclusions Exercise regulated cartilage-SB PTOA development in DMM-operated knees in a dose-dependent manner. Our findings shed light on the important role of BMP expression in superficial zone chondrocytes in attenuation of PTOA development following physiological exercise loading. Further studies to support a mechanism by which BMPs would be beneficial in preventing PTOA progression are warranted.

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Iijima, H., Ito, A., Nagai, M., Tajino, J., Yamaguchi, S., Kiyan, W., … Kuroki, H. (2017). Physiological exercise loading suppresses post-traumatic osteoarthritis progression via an increase in bone morphogenetic proteins expression in an experimental rat knee model. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 25(6), 964–975. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joca.2016.12.008

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