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Title: Characterising the role of articular cartilage progenitor cells in osteoarthritis
Author: Esa, Adam
ISNI:       0000 0004 5915 1217
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2015
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Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic and highly prevalent degenerative disease of the synovial joint leading to cartilage destruction and bone remodelling. The current management of end-stage OA is joint replacement, however, this procedure is not suitable for a subset of patients hence there is a growing need for alternative treatments and technologies to address this limitation. One such approach to this problem is the application of cell-based therapies that regenerate areas of damaged cartilage. Recently discovered articular cartilage progenitor cells (CPC) have been hallmarked as a potential cell source for repair and/or regeneration of damaged articular cartilage. Initial focus was on the characterisation of human CPC isolated from healthy donors and compared with OA derived CPC and patient matched OA Bone Marrow Mesenchymal Stem Cells (BM-MSCs). Comparison of all cell types showed similar morphology and proliferative capacity. In addition, all cell types isolated showed positive expression of the putative mesenchymal stem cell makers; CD-90, CD-105 and CD-166 while lacking expression of CD-34. All cell types investigated showed successful osteogenic, chondrogenic and adipogenic differentiation, hence providing evidence of the mesenchymal stem cell properties of isolated CPC. A gene profiler array was used to identify the expression of Wnt pathway genes from RNA isolated from CPC cell lines originating from healthy and OA cartilage. Interestingly, the expression of Dkk-1 was observed to have the highest up-regulation in OA-derived CPC. The role of Dkk-1 was further studied in a number of CPC and chondrocyte cell lines from healthy and OA cartilage. It was found that normal CPC cell lines showed homogenously low expression and secretion of Dkk-1, however, OA-derived CPC cell lines exhibited a heterogeneous expression and secretion of Dkk-1. In a pellet culture model of chondrogenic differentiation, CPC cell lines secreting high levels of Dkk-1 failed to undergo chondrogenic differentiation, measured by diminished expression of chondrogenic differentiation markers, Type II collagen, ACAN and Sox-9 at both molecular and protein levels. Immunolocalisation of Dkk-1 in OA osteochondral plugs showed peri-cellular expression in chondrocytes located in all zones and around migratory endothelial cells invading articular cartilage where there was a quantifiable increase of blood vessel invasion. This later observation was further studied through a series of experiments to investigate the role of Dkk-1 in relation to endothelial cell migration and angiogenesis using an in vitro model of angiogenesis and migration/invasion assays. A novel finding emerged from these studies, which provides evidence for a pro-angiogenic and pro-migratory role of Dkk-1 and to a lesser extent Dkk-2 in human endothelial cell lines. A novel in vitro Transwell co-culture model was developed to study the interaction between chondrocytes and endothelial cells mimicking the osteochondral interface. A novel finding from these studies included the observation that normal or OA-derived chondrocytes appeared to induce an endothelial to mesenchymal transformation (EndMT) of the co-culture endothelial cells. This was assessed by a loss of the endothelial cobble stone morphology and a down-regulation of key factors implicated in endothelial cell phenotype, including VE-cadherin, Tie-2, e-NOS, PDGF-AA and PECAM-1. As endothelial cells lost their phenotype they adopted a spindle morphology and expressed mesenchymal cell markers including: Lumican, Snail, α-SMA, Vimentin and MMPs. Interestingly, this was also associated with an increase in Dkk-1 expression. To confirm a role for Dkk-1 in this process endothelial cells were cultured in the presence of Dkk-1 and were found to undergo EndMT when compared to the control. In summary, this thesis has uncovered several interesting differences in CPC phenotype. In addition, my results suggest that Dkk-1 has potential as a biomarker of OA pathology. This thesis highlights further the complex role of the Wnt Pathway and in particular Dkk-1 may play a role in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Q Science (General) ; QP Physiology ; RB Pathology ; RD Surgery