Invited Talk: Osteoarthritis: diagnosis, treatment and challenges @ Acharya Hall
Aug 12 @ 11:42 am – 12:07 pm

hideakiHideaki Nagase, Ph.D.
Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology-Centre for Degenerative Diseases, University of Oxford, UK

Osteoarthritis: diagnosis, treatment and challenges

Hideaki Nagase1, Ngee Han Lim1, George Bou-Gharios1, Ernst Meinjohanns2  and Morten Meldal3

  1. Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences, University of Oxford, London, W6 8LH  UK
  2. Carlsberg Laboratory, Copenhagen, Denmark,
  3. Nano-Science Center, Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most prevalent age-related degenerative joint disease. With the expanding ageing population, it imposes a major socio-economic burden on society.  A key feature of OA is a gradual loss of articular cartilage and deformation of bone, resulting in the impairment of joint function. Currently, there is no effective disease-modifying treatment except joint replacement surgery. There are many possible causes of cartilage loss (e.g. mechanical load, injury, reactive oxygen species, aging, etc.) and etiological factors (obesity, genetics), but the degradation of cartilage is primarily caused by elevated levels of active metalloproteinases.  It is therefore attractive to consider proteinase inhibitors as potential therapeutics. However, there are several hurdles to overcome, namely early diagnosis and continuous monitoring of the efficacy of inhibitor therapeutics. We are therefore aiming at developing non-invasive probes to detect cartilage degrading metalloproteinase activities.

We have designed in vivo imaging probes to detect MMP-13 (collagenase 3) activity that participates in OA by degrade cartilage collagen II and MMP-12 (macrophage elastase) activity involved in inflammatory arthritis. These activity-based probes consist of a peptide that is selectively cleaved by the target proteinase, a near-infrared fluorophore and a quencher. The probe’s signal multiplies upon proteolysis.  They were first used to follow the respective enzyme activity in vivo in the mouse model of collagen-induced arthritis and we found MMP-12 activity probe (MMP12AP) activation peaked at 5 days after onset of the disease, whereas MMP13AP activation was observed at 10-15 days. The in vivo activation of these probes was inhibited by specific low molecule inhibitors.  We proceeded to test both probes in the mouse model of OA induced by the surgical destabilization of medial meniscus of the knee joints.  In this model, degradation of knee cartilage is first detected histologically 6 weeks after surgery with significant erosion detectable at 8 weeks. Little activation of MMP12AP was detected, which was expected, as macrophage migration is not obvious in OA. MMP13AP, on the other hand, was significantly activated in the operated knee at 6 weeks compared with the non-operated contralateral knee, but there were no significant differences between the operated and sham-operated knees.  At 8 weeks, however, the signals in the operated knees were significantly higher than both the contralateral and sham-operated controls. Activation of aggrecanases and MMP-13 are observed before structural changes of cartilage. We are therefore currently improving the MMP-13 probe for earlier detection by attaching it to polymers that are retained in  cartilage.