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Abstract

Objective

To investigate the capacity of ADAM15, a disintegrin metalloproteinase that is up-regulated in osteoarthritic (OA) cartilage, to protect chondrocytes against apoptosis induced by growth factor deprivation and genotoxic stress.

Methods

Caspase 3/7 activity was determined in primary OA and ADAM15-transfected T/C28a4 chondrocytes upon exposure to the DNA-damaging agent camptothecin or serum withdrawal. Camptothecin-induced cytotoxicity was determined by measuring cellular ATP content. (Anti-)apoptotic proteins were analyzed by immunoblotting, and levels of messenger RNA (mRNA) for X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis (XIAP) were determined using real-time polymerase chain reaction. RNA interference was applied for down-regulation of ADAM15 and XIAP expression. Immunohistochemistry analysis of normal and OA cartilage samples was performed using XIAP- and ADAM15-specific antibodies.

Results

ADAM15-transfected chondrocytes cultured on a collagen matrix displayed significantly reduced caspase 3/7 activity upon serum or intermittent matrix withdrawal, compared with vector-transfected control cells. Apoptosis induction by camptothecin exposure also led to significantly elevated caspase 3/7 activity and reduced cell viability of the vector-transfected compared with ADAM15-transfected chondrocytes. Increased levels of activated caspase 3 and cleaved poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase were detected in the vector controls. XIAP, an inhibitor of activated caspase 3, was significantly up-regulated (∼3-fold) at the protein and mRNA levels in ADAM15-transfected chondrocytes upon camptothecin treatment. Specific down-regulation of either ADAM15 or XIAP in OA chondrocytes led to significant sensitization to camptothecin-induced caspase 3/7 activity. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed low to moderate XIAP expression in normal specimens and markedly increased XIAP staining, colocalizing with ADAM15, in OA cartilage.

Conclusion

ADAM15 conveys antiapoptotic properties to OA chondrocytes that might sustain their potential to better resist the influence of death-inducing stimuli under pathophysiologic conditions.