NMDA receptor expression and roles in human articular chondrocyte mechanotransduction

D M Salter, M O Wright, S J Millward-Sadler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Mechanical forces influence articular cartilage structure by regulating chondrocyte activity. Mechanical stimulation results in activation of an alpha5beta1 integrin dependent intracellular signal cascade involving focal adhesion kinase and protein kinase C, triggering the release of interleukin-4 from the cell. In normal HAC the response to physiological mechanical stimulation is characterised by increased levels of aggrecan mRNA and a decrease in levels of mRNA for matrix metalloproteinase 3 (MMP-3), the net result of which would be to maintain and optimise cartilage structure and function. This protective/anabolic response is not seen when chondrocytes from osteoarthritic cartilage are subjected to an identical mechanical stimulation regime. Following the observation that the neurotransmitter substance P is involved in chondrocyte mechanotransduction the present study was undertaken to establish potential roles for glutamate receptors in the control of chondrocyte mechanical responses. Using immunohistochemistry and RTPCR normal and OA chondrocytes are shown to express NR1 and NR2a subunits of the NMDA receptor. Addition of NMDA receptor agonists to chondrocytes in primary culture resulted in changes in membrane potential consistent with expression of functional receptors. NMDA receptor antagonists inhibited the hyperpolarisation response of normal chondrocytes to mechanical stimulation but had no effect on the depolarisation response of osteoarthritic chondrocytes to mechanical stimulation. These studies indicate that at least one subset of the NMDA receptor family of molecules is expressed in cartilage and may have important modulatory effects on mechanotransduction and cellular responses following mechanical stimulation. Indeed the results suggest that there is an alteration of NMDA receptor signalling in OA chondrocytes, which may be critical in the abnormal response of OA chondrocytes to mechanical stimulation. Thus NMDA receptors appear to be involved in the regulation of human articular chondrocyte responses to mechanical stimulation, and in OA, mechanotransduction pathways may be modified as a result of altered activation and function of these receptors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-81
Number of pages9
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2004

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • 6-Cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione
  • Cartilage, Articular
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chondrocytes
  • Dizocilpine Maleate
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists
  • Glycine
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Organophosphonates
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Piperazines
  • Pressure
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


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