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Review

Hypertrophic differentiation of chondrocytes in osteoarthritis: the developmental aspect of degenerative joint disorders

Rita Dreier

Author Affiliations

University Hospital of Münster, Institute for Physiological Chemistry and Pathobiochemistry, Waldeyerstraße 15, 48149 Münster, Germany

Arthritis Research & Therapy 2010, 12:216  doi:10.1186/ar3117

Published: 16 September 2010

Abstract

Osteoarthritis is characterized by a progressive degradation of articular cartilage leading to loss of joint function. The molecular mechanisms regulating pathogenesis and progression of osteoarthritis are poorly understood. Remarkably, some characteristics of this joint disease resemble chondrocyte differentiation processes during skeletal development by endochondral ossification. In healthy articular cartilage, chondrocytes resist proliferation and terminal differentiation. By contrast, chondrocytes in diseased cartilage progressively proliferate and develop hypertrophy. Moreover, vascularization and focal calcification of joint cartilage are initiated. Signaling molecules that regulate chondrocyte activities in both growth cartilage and permanent articular cartilage during osteoarthritis are thus interesting targets for disease-modifying osteoarthritis therapies.