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Agents such as retinol, interleukin 1 and catabolin stimulate resorption of cultured cartilage. This process seems to be mediated by chondrocytes, but the mechanism by which breakdown occurs remains unknown. We have found that (10(-6)-10(-8) M) retinoic acid and (1 X 10(-6) M) retinol, in the presence or absence of a factor derived from cultured synovium (synovial factor), stimulate the degradation of fibrin by human chondrocytes in culture. Plasminogen was required for the enhancement of fibrinolysis, suggesting that the breakdown depended upon the production of plasminogen activators and subsequent liberation of plasmin. However, the chondrocytes did not release significant amounts of plasminogen activator, and the effects of the synovial factor and retinoids resulted from augmentation of the production or activity of enzymes which remained bound to the cell layer. The role of plasminogen in the resorption of cultured cartilage was also investigated. In the presence of plasminogen, (1 X 10(-8) M) retinoic acid or synovial factor stimulated the breakdown of cultured bovine nasal cartilage, but in the absence of plasminogen, the effect of synovial factor was abolished and that of retinoic acid reduced. However, in cultures containing both retinoic acid and synovial factor the resorption process was not affected by removal of plasminogen. Thus, the resorption of cartilage matrix in vitro may be partially mediated by plasminogen activators and plasmin.

Original publication




Journal article


Biochim biophys acta

Publication Date





161 - 169


Animals, Cartilage, Cattle, Cells, Cultured, Chondroitin Sulfates, Fibrin, Humans, Plasminogen, Plasminogen Activators, Retinoids, Synovial Membrane, Tretinoin, Vitamin A