Quantitative proteomics analysis of cartilage response to mechanical injury and cytokine treatment

Yang Wang, Yang Li, Areej Khabut, Susan Chubinskaya, Alan J. Grodzinsky, Patrik Önnerfjord

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Mechanical damage at the time of joint injury and the ensuing inflammatory response associated with elevated levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the synovial fluid, are reported to contribute to the progression to osteoarthritis after injury. In this exploratory study, we used a targeted proteomics approach to follow the progression of matrix degradation in response to mechanical damage and cytokine treatment of human knee cartilage explants, and thereby to study potential molecular biomarkers. This proteomics approach allowed us to unambiguously identify and quantify multiple peptides and proteins in the cartilage medium and explants upon treatment with ± injurious compression ± cytokines, treatments that mimic the earliest events in post-traumatic OA. We followed degradation of different protein domains, e.g., G1/G2/G3 of aggrecan, by measuring representative peptides of matrix proteins released into the medium at 7 time points throughout the 21-day culture period. COMP neo-epitopes, which were previously identified in the synovial fluid of knee injury/OA patients, were also released by these human cartilage explants treated with cyt and cyt + inj. The absence of collagen pro-peptides and elevated levels of specific COMP and COL3A1 neo-epitopes after human knee trauma may be relevant as potential biomarkers for post-traumatic OA. This model system thereby enables study of the kinetics of cartilage degradation and the identification of biomarkers within cartilage explants and those released to culture medium. Discovery proteomics revealed that candidate proteases were identified after specific treatment conditions, including MMP1, MMP-3, MMP-10 and MMP-13.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-22
Number of pages12
JournalMatrix Biology
StatePublished - Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Cartilage matrix
  • Cytokines
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Post-traumatic osteoarthritis
  • Proteomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology


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