The authors have no competing interests to declare.
All authors were involved in drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content, and all authors approved the final version to be published. OL had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.Study conception and design: OL and GT, Acquisition of data: OL Analysis and interpretation of data: OL, PS, FS, KW and GT. Drafting the article or revising it critically: OL, KW, PS, GT and FS.
Contractures of the knee joint cause disability and handicap. Recovering range of motion is recognized by arthritic patients as their preference for improved health outcome secondary only to pain management. Clinical and experimental studies provide evidence that the posterior knee capsule prevents the knee from achieving full extension. This study was undertaken to investigate the dynamic changes of the joint capsule transcriptome during the progression of knee joint contractures induced by immobilization. We performed a microarray analysis of genes expressed in the posterior knee joint capsule following induction of a flexion contracture by rigidly immobilizing the rat knee joint over a time-course of 16 weeks. Fold changes of expression values were measured and co-expressed genes were identified by clustering based on time-series analysis. Genes associated with immobilization were further analyzed to reveal pathways and biological significance and validated by immunohistochemistry on sagittal sections of knee joints.
Changes in expression with a minimum of 1.5 fold changes were dominated by a decrease in expression for 7732 probe sets occurring at week 8 while the expression of 2251 probe sets increased. Clusters of genes with similar profiles of expression included a total of 162 genes displaying at least a 2 fold change compared to week 1. Functional analysis revealed ontology categories corresponding to triglyceride metabolism, extracellular matrix and muscle contraction. The altered expression of selected genes involved in the triglyceride biosynthesis pathway; AGPAT-9, and of the genes P4HB and HSP47, both involved in collagen synthesis, was confirmed by immunohistochemistry.
Gene expression in the knee joint capsule was sensitive to joint immobility and provided insights into molecular mechanisms relevant to the pathophysiology of knee flexion contractures. Capsule responses to immobilization was dynamic and characterized by modulation of at least three reaction pathways; down regulation of triglyceride biosynthesis, alteration of extracellular matrix degradation and muscle contraction gene expression. The posterior knee capsule may deploy tissue-specific patterns of mRNA regulatory responses to immobilization. The identification of altered expression of genes and biochemical pathways in the joint capsule provides potential targets for the therapy of knee flexion contractures.
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- Temporal gene expression profiling of the rat knee joint capsule during immobilization-induced joint contractures
- BioMed Central
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