Chondrocyte-Specific Pathology During Skeletal Growth and Therapeutics in a Murine Model of Pseudoachondroplasia



Mutations in the gene encoding cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP) cause pseudoachondroplasia (PSACH), a severe dwarfing condition. Pain, a significant complication, has generally been attributed to joint abnormalities and erosion and early onset osteoarthritis. Previously, we found that the inflammatory-related transcripts were elevated in growth plate and articular cartilages, indicating that inflammation plays an important role in the chondrocyte disease pathology and may contribute to the overall pain sequelae. Here, we describe the effects of D469-delCOMP expression on the skeleton and growth plate chondrocytes with the aim to define a treatment window and thereby reduce pain. Consistent with the human PSACH phenotype, skeletal development of D469del-COMP mice was normal and similar to controls at birth. By postnatal day 7 (P7), the D469del-COMP skeleton, limbs, skull and snout were reduced and this reduction was progressive during postnatal growth, resulting in a short-limbed dwarfed mouse. Modulation of prenatal and postnatal expression of D469del-COMP showed minimal retention/cell death at P7 with some retention/cell death by P14, suggesting that earlier treatment intervention at the time of PSACH diagnosis may produce optimal results. Important and novel findings were an increase in inflammatory proteins generally starting at P21 and that exercise exacerbates inflammation. These observations suggest that pain in PSACH may be related to an intrinsic inflammatory process that can be treated symptomatically and is not related to early joint erosion. We also show that genetic ablation of CHOP dampens the inflammatory response observed in mice expressing D469del-COMP. Toward identifying potential treatments, drugs known to decrease cellular stress (lithium, phenylbutyric acid, and valproate) were assessed. Interestingly, all diminished the chondrocyte pathology but had untoward outcomes on mouse growth, development, and longevity. Collectively, these results define an early treatment window in which chondrocytes can be salvaged, thereby potentially increasing skeletal growth and decreasing pain. © 2014 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.