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Open Access Research article

Cartilage oligomeric matrix protein is involved in human limb development and in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis

Sebastian Koelling, Till Sebastian Clauditz, Matthias Kaste and Nicolai Miosge*

Author Affiliations

Zentrum Anatomie, Abt. Histologie, Georg-August-Universitaet, Kreuzbergring 36, 37075 Göttingen, Germany

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2006, 8:R56  doi:10.1186/ar1922

Published: 15 March 2006

Abstract

As a member of the thrombospondin gene family, cartilage oligomeric protein (COMP) is found mainly in the extracellular matrix often associated with cartilage tissue. COMP exhibits a wide binding repertoire and has been shown to be involved in the regulation of chondrogenesis in vitro. Not much is known about the role of COMP in human cartilage tissue in vivo. With the help of immunohistochemistry, Western blot, in situ hybridization, and real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, we aimed to elucidate the role of COMP in human embryonic, adult healthy, and osteoarthritis (OA) cartilage tissue. COMP is present during the earliest stages of human limb maturation and is later found in regions where the joints develop. In healthy and diseased cartilage tissue, COMP is secreted by the chondrocytes and is often associated with the collagen fibers. In late stages of OA, five times the COMP mRNA is produced by chondrocytes found in an area adjacent to the main defect than in an area with macroscopically normal appearance. The results indicate that COMP might be involved in human limb development, is upregulated in OA, and due to its wide binding repertoire, could play a role in the pathogenesis of OA as a factor secreted by chondrocytes to ameliorate the matrix breakdown.