Regeneration of defects in articular cartilage in rat knee joints by CCN2 (connective tissue growth factor)

Takashi Nishida, Satoshi Kubota, Shunji Kojima, Takuo Kuboki, Kyouji Nakao, Toshihiro Kushibiki, Yasuhiko Tabata, Masaharu Takigawa

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143 Citations (Scopus)


CTGF/CCN2, a hypertrophic chondrocyte-specific gene product, possessed the ability to repair damaged articular cartilage in two animal models, which were experimental osteoarthritis and full-thickness defects of articular cartilage. These findings suggest that CTGF/CCN2 may be useful in regeneration of articular cartilage. Introduction: Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF)/CCN2 is a unique growth factor that stimulates the proliferation and differentiation, but not hypertrophy, of articular chondrocytes in vitro. The objective of this study was to investigate the therapeutic use of CTGF/CCN2. Materials and Methods: The effects of recombinant CTGF/CCN2 (rCTGF/CCN2) on repair of damaged cartilage were evaluated by using both the monoiodoacetic acid (MIA)-induced experimental rat osteoarthritis (OA) model and full-thickness defects of rat articular cartilage in vivo. Results: In the MIA-induced OA model, quantitative real-time RT-PCR assays showed a significant increase in the level of CTGF/CCN2 mRNA, and immunohistochemical analysis and in situ hybridization revealed that the clustered chondrocytes, in which clustering indicates an attempt to repair the damaged cartilage, produced CTGF/CCN2. Therefore, CTGF/CCN2 was suspected to play critical roles in cartilage repair. In fact, a single injection of rCTGF/CCN2 incorporated in gelatin hydrogel (rCTGF/CCN2-hydrogel) into the joint cavity of MIA-induced OA model rats repaired their articular cartilage to the extent that it became histologically similar to normal articular cartilage. Next, to examine the effect of rCTGF/CCN2 on the repair of articular cartilage, we created defects (2 mm in diameter) on the surface of articular cartilage in situ and implanted rCTGF/CCN2-hydrogel or PBS-hydrogel therein with collagen sponge. In the group implanted with rCTGF/CCN2-hydrogel collagen, new cartilage filled the defect 4 weeks postoperatively. In contrast, only soft tissue repair occurred when the PBS-hydrogel collagen was implanted. Consistent with these in vivo effects, rCTGF/CCN2 enhanced type II collagen and aggrecan mRNA expression in mouse bone marrow-derived stromal cells and induced chondrogenesis in vitro. Conclusion: These findings suggest the utility of CTGF/CCN2 in the regeneration of articular cartilage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1308-1319
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Bone and Mineral Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2004


  • Articular cartilage
  • Connective tissue growth factor/CCN2
  • Gelatin hydrogel
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Regeneration and repair

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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