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Interleukin-1 beta and tumor necrosis factor alpha inhibit migration activity of chondrogenic progenitor cells from non-fibrillated osteoarthritic cartilage

Helga Joos1, Anja Wildner1, Cathrin Hogrefe1, Heiko Reichel2 and Rolf E Brenner1*

Author Affiliations

1 Division for Biochemistry of Joint and Connective Tissue Diseases, Department of Orthopedics, University of Ulm, Ulm, Germany

2 Department of Orthopedics, University of Ulm, Ulm, Germany

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2013, 15:R119  doi:10.1186/ar4299

Published: 13 September 2013



The repair capability of traumatized articular cartilage is highly limited so that joint injuries often lead to osteoarthritis. Migratory chondrogenic progenitor cells (CPC) might represent a target cell population for in situ regeneration. This study aims to clarify, whether 1) CPC are present in regions of macroscopically intact cartilage from human osteoarthritic joints, 2) CPC migration is stimulated by single growth factors and the cocktail of factors released from traumatized cartilage and 3) CPC migration is influenced by cytokines present in traumatized joints.


We characterized the cells growing out from macroscopically intact human osteoarthritic cartilage using a panel of positive and negative surface markers and analyzed their differentiation capacity. The migratory response to platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-BB, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), supernatants obtained from in vitro traumatized cartilage and interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β) as well as tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) were tested with a modified Boyden chamber assay. The influence of IL-1β and TNF-α was additionally examined by scratch assays and outgrowth experiments.


A comparison of 25 quadruplicate marker combinations in CPC and bone-marrow derived mesenchymal stromal cells showed a similar expression profile. CPC cultures had the potential for adipogenic, osteogenic and chondrogenic differentiation. PDGF-BB and IGF-1, such as the supernatant from traumatized cartilage, induced a significant site-directed migratory response. IL-1β and TNF-α significantly reduced basal cell migration and abrogated the stimulative effect of the growth factors and the trauma supernatant. Both cytokines also inhibited cell migration in the scratch assay and primary outgrowth of CPC from cartilage tissue. In contrast, the cytokine IL-6, which is present in trauma supernatant, did not affect growth factor induced migration of CPC.


These results indicate that traumatized cartilage releases chemoattractive factors for CPC but IL-1β and TNF-α inhibit their migratory activity which might contribute to the low regenerative potential of cartilage in vivo.

Chondrogenic progenitor cells (CPC); migration; IL-1β; TNF-α; cartilage repair