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Open Access Research article

The retinoic acid binding protein CRABP2 is increased in murine models of degenerative joint disease

Ian D Welch1, Matthew F Cowan2, Frank Beier3 and Tully M Underhill2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Animal Care and Veterinary Services, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, N6A 5C1, Canada

2 Department of Cellular and Physiological Sciences, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1Z3, Canada

3 Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, CIHR Group in Skeletal Development and Remodeling, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, N6A 5C1, Canada

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2009, 11:R14  doi:10.1186/ar2604

Published: 28 January 2009

Abstract

Introduction

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a debilitating disease with poorly defined aetiology. Multiple signals are involved in directing the formation of cartilage during development and the vitamin A derivatives, the retinoids, figure prominently in embryonic cartilage formation. In the present study, we examined the expression of a retinoid-regulated gene in murine models of OA.

Methods

Mild and moderate forms of an OA-like degenerative disease were created in the mouse stifle joint by meniscotibial transection (MTX) and partial meniscectomy (PMX), respectively. Joint histopathology was scored using an Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) system and gene expression (Col1a1, Col10a1, Sox9 and Crabp2) in individual joints was determined using TaqMan quantitative PCR on RNA from microdissected articular knee cartilage.

Results

For MTX, there was a significant increase in the joint score at 10 weeks (n = 4, p < 0.001) in comparison to sham surgeries. PMX surgery was slightly more severe and produced significant changes in joint score at six (n = 4, p < 0.01), eight (n = 4, p < 0.001) and 10 (n = 4, p < 0.001) weeks. The expression of Col1a1 was increased in both surgical models at two, four and six weeks post-surgery. In contrast, Col10a1 and Sox9 for the most part showed no significant difference in expression from two to six weeks post-surgery. Crabp2 expression is induced upon activation of the retinoid signalling pathway. At two weeks after surgery in the MTX and PMX animals, Crabp2 expression was increased about 18-fold and about 10-fold over the sham control, respectively. By 10 weeks, Crabp2 expression was increased about three-fold (n = 7, not significant) in the MTX animals and about five-fold (n = 7, p < 0.05) in the PMX animals in comparison to the contralateral control joint.

Conclusions

Together, these findings suggest that the retinoid signalling pathway is activated early in the osteoarthritic process and is sustained during the course of the disease.