Article Abstract

Quantitative analysis and study of the mRNA expression levels of apoptotic genes BCL2, BAX and BCL2L12 in the articular cartilage of an animal model of osteoarthritis

Authors: Aristotelis Kourtis, Panagiotis G. Adamopoulos, Apostolos Papalois, Dimitrios C. Iliopoulos, George C. Babis, Andreas Scorilas


Background: Given that apoptosis of chondrocytes is one of the most important factors related to the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis (OA), the recent research interest adds progress not only to the knowledge of the molecular signals that mediate apoptosis but also to find new therapeutic targets. This study attempts to investigate the differential expression of BCL2 family genes in the articular cartilage of an experimental animal model of OA.
Methods: In total, 26 New Zealand white rabbits underwent an anterior cruciate ligament transaction, 26 more were subjected to a placebo surgery and 18 specimens constituted the control non-operated group. Thirteen weeks later, samples of cartilage from the osteoarthritic and non-osteoarthritic knees were collected and subjected to analysis of the BCL2, BAX and BCL2L12 gene expression at the mRNA level.
Results: Installed osteoarthritic alterations of varied intensity and of grade 1 up to grade 5, were confirmed according to the OARSI system. Contrary to the physiologically healthy samples, in the osteoarthritic samples the mRNA expression levels of BAX and BCL2L12 genes were found significantly upregulated by signals which can activate apoptosis. However, the difference between BCL2 mRNA expression levels in healthy and osteoarthritic samples was not supported statistically.
Conclusions: Since apoptosis is the main feature of the cartilage degeneration in OA, the effective inhibition of apoptosis of chondrocytes can provide novel and interesting therapeutic strategies for the treatment of OA. Therefore, BAX and BCL2L12 are highlighted as potential therapeutic targets in OA.