Previous studies support the important role of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and syndecan-4 in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis (OA). Both VEGF and syndecan-4 are expressed by chondrocytes and both are involved in the regulation of matrix metalloproteinase-3, resulting in the activation of aggrecanase II (ADAMTS-5), which is essential in the pathogenesis of OA. However, the relationship between VEGF and syndecan-4 has not been established. As a pilot study, we assayed the expression of VEGF and syndecan-4 in cartilage samples and cultured chondrocytes from osteoarthritic knee joints and analysed the relationship between these two factors.
Specimens were collected from 21 female patients (29 knees) who underwent total knee replacement due to severe medial OA of the knee (Kellgren-Lawrence grade 4). Articular cartilage samples, obtained from bone and cartilage excised during surgery, were analysed and used for chondrocyte culture. We found that the levels of expression of VEGF and syndecan-4 mRNA did not differ significantly between medial femoral cartilage with severe degenerative changes and lateral femoral cartilage that appeared grossly normal (p = 0.443 and 0.622, respectively). Likewise, the levels of expression of VEGF and syndecan-4 mRNA were similar in cultured chondrocytes from medial and lateral femoral cartilage. The levels of expression of VEGF and syndecan-4 mRNAs were significantly and positively correlated in cartilage explant (r = 0.601, p = 0.003) but not in cultured chondrocytes. These results suggest that there is a close relationship between VEGF and syndecan-4 in the cartilage of patients with OA. Further studies are needed to determine the exact pathway by which these two factors interact in the pathogenesis of OA.
Cite this article:Bone Joint J2014;96-B:1319-24.