eCM (Eur Cell Mater / e Cells & Materials) Not-for-Profit Open Access
Created by Scientists, for Scientists
 ISSN:1473-2262         NLM:100973416 (link)         DOI:10.22203/eCM

2007   Volume No 13 – pages 56-65

Title: Oxygen, nitric oxide and articular cartilage

Author: B Fermor, SE Christensen, I Youn, JM Cernanec, CM Davies, JB Weinberg

Address: Department of Surgery, Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA

E-mail: bfer at

Key Words: Oxygen, nitric oxide, articular cartilage, prostaglandins, cytokines, mechanical loading.

Publication date: April 11th 2007

Abstract: Molecular oxygen is required for the production of nitric oxide (NO), a pro-inflammatory mediator that is associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. To date there has been little consideration of the role of oxygen tension in the regulation of nitric oxide production associated with arthritis. Oxygen tension may be particularly relevant to articular cartilage since it is avascular and therefore exists at a reduced oxygen tension. The superficial zone exists at approximately 6% O2, while the deep zone exists at less than 1% O2. Furthermore, oxygen tension can alter matrix synthesis, and the material properties of articular cartilage in vitro.

The increase in nitric oxide associated with arthritis can be caused by pro-inflammatory cytokines and mechanical stress. Oxygen tension significantly alters endogenous NO production in articular cartilage, as well as the stimulation of NO in response to both mechanical loading and pro-inflammatory cytokines. Mechanical loading and pro-inflammatory cytokines also increase the production of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). There is a complex interaction between NO and PGE2, and oxygen tension can alter this interaction. These findings suggest that the relatively low levels of oxygen within the joint may have significant influences on the metabolic activity, and inflammatory response of cartilage as compared to ambient levels. A better understanding of the role of oxygen in the production of inflammatory mediators in response to mechanical loading, or pro-inflammatory cytokines, may aid in the development of strategies for therapeutic intervention in arthritis.

Article download: Pages 56-65 (PDF file)
DOI: 10.22203/eCM.v013a06