In recent years, the role of extracellular matrix (ECM) in regulating cellular behaviour, as well as its particular role in the proper functioning of load-bearing tissues, such as cartilage, has gained a lot of attention. As a result, immense efforts have been made to translate knowledge into action, especially for cartilage ECM homeostasis and dysregulation.
Owing to its relatively high prevalence and tremendous impact on the quality of life of patients, osteoarthritis (OA) is considered to be one of the most common joint diseases associated with cartilage destruction. The management of OA is currently limited to surgical interventions and pharmaceutical treatments; therefore, cartilage ECM represents a prospective target, since it can shift the management of OA from palliative care to curative care.
Several studies have called attention to the pathological changes in cartilage ECM accompanied by OA occurrence and progression, since ECM makes up 90% of the dry weight of cartilage. It is evident that the composition and structure of cartilage ECM directly influences normal joint functions, which are stability and lubrication. As a result, it is anticipated that pathological changes in cartilage ECM can serve as biomarkers for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of OA.
In this review, authors approach cartilage ECM in a holistic manner with special attention to OA. The composition and properties of cartilage ECM are introduced, along with their role in chondrocyte metabolism. Regarding OA, the associated degradation and remodeling of cartilage ECM during the occurrence and progression are discussed in detail, and insights from in vitro studies, in vivo preclinical studies, and clinical trials on the potential use of cartilage ECM biomarkers as therapeutic targets are noted. The graphical abstract of the review is added below.
Scheme 1. Graphical abstract
This review encourages further research on cartilage ECM, since a deeper understanding of the role of cartilage ECM in OA will ultimately lead to the development of new therapeutic options.
For more information:
Peng, Z., Sun, H., Bunpetch, V., Koh, Y., Wen, Y., Wu, D., & Ouyang, H. (2021). The regulation of cartilage extracellular matrix homeostasis in joint cartilage degeneration and regeneration. Biomaterials, 268, 120555. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biomaterials.2020.120555