Connective tissue research

A mechanical refractory period of chondrocytes after dynamic hydrostatic pressure.

PMID 25531199


Mechanical stimulation, a crucial factor for maintaining the cartilaginous phenotype and promoting the chondrogenesis, has been widely used in autologous chondrocyte transplantation. This study was designed to investigate a novel concept of mechanical refractory period of chondrocytes after dynamic hydrostatic pressure (dHP). dHP protocols (0.1 Hz, 2 MPa) were applied. The variation in type II collagen (Col II) expression induced by each dHP unit was measured. The dynamic remodeling of F-actin during the mechanical protocols was observed morphologically and mechanically by laser confocal microscopy and optical magnetic twisting cytometry (OMTC), respectively. About 20 ng/ml VEGF was used to stabilize the F-actin and restrain the mechanical refractory period. Compared with the remarkable increase of Col II (16-fold) induced by the initial dHP unit, the chondrocytes entered a mechanical refractory period and the second unit hardly elevated Col II expression (only 2.9-fold). This refractory period recovered partially within 2 h. The uniform, parallel, and coarse fibers of F-actin before dHP became thin, sparse, and disordered, and the cell stiffness decreased concomitantly. The variations in both the morphology and the mechanical property of F-actin were highly synchronous to the mechanical refractory period and recovered in a time-dependent manner. VEGF postponed the appearance of this refractory period and maintained the high expression of Col II by VEGF/p38/MAPKAPK-2/LIMK/cofilin pathway. A mechanical refractory period of chondrocytes has been discovered and defined in this study. The F-actin depolymerization is the putative mechanism, and this refractory period can be postponed by VEGF-induced F-actin stabilization.