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YKL-39 (chitinase 3-like protein 2), but not YKL-40 (chitinase 3-like protein 1), is up regulated in osteoarthritic chondrocytes


Obermayr F, Bartnik E, Zien,  A
Department Empirical Inference, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Knorr, T., Obermayr F, Bartnik E, Zien, A., & Aigner, T. (2003). YKL-39 (chitinase 3-like protein 2), but not YKL-40 (chitinase 3-like protein 1), is up regulated in osteoarthritic chondrocytes. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, 62(10), 995-998.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate quantitatively the mRNA expression levels of YKL-40, an established marker of rheumatoid and osteoarthritic cartilage degeneration in synovial fluid and serum, and a closely related molecule YKL-39, in articular chondrocytes. METHODS: cDNA array and online quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) were used to measure mRNA expression levels of YKL-39 and YKL-40 in chondrocytes in normal, early degenerative, and late stage osteoarthritic cartilage samples. RESULTS: Expression analysis showed high levels of both proteins in normal articular chondrocytes, with lower levels of YKL-39 than YKL-40. Whereas YKL-40 was significantly down regulated in late stage osteoarthritic chondrocytes, YKL-39 was significantly up regulated. In vitro both YKLs were down regulated by interleukin 1beta. CONCLUSIONS: The up regulation of YKL-39 in osteoarthritic cartilage suggests that YKL-39 may be a more accurate marker of chondrocyte activation than YKL-40, although it has yet to be established as a suitable marker in synovial fluid and serum. The decreased expression of YKL-40 by osteoarthritic chondrocytes is surprising as increased levels have been reported in rheumatoid and osteoarthritic synovial fluid, where it may derive from activated synovial cells or osteophytic tissue or by increased matrix destruction in the osteoarthritic joint. YKL-39 and YKL-40 are potentially interesting marker molecules for arthritic joint disease because they are abundantly expressed by both normal and osteoarthritic chondrocytes.