Ma - Wnt Signaling in Cartilage Development and Degeneration

Ma Bin

University of Twente 2012 - dissertation


Cartilage is a flexible connective tissue consisting of a dense matrix predominantly
consisting of collagens and proteoglycans, which provide compressive and tensile strength
to the cartilage tissue. Articular cartilage provides mechanical support for joints and is
responsible for smooth and pain free joint movement. It is the primary tissue affected in
joint diseases such as osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) which are the
leading causes of mobility-associated disability. Chondrocytes are sparsely embedded in
cartilage matrix and perform matrix-generation and maintenance functions. Investigation
of mechanisms underlying cartilage development and degeneration will provide important
implications for treatment of joint diseases. Multiple signaling pathways have been shown
to be involved, of which Wnt signaling is one of the most crucial pathways. This thesis
aims to elucidate the role of Wnt signaling in cartilage development and degeneration.
After introduction of the general outline of this thesis in chapter 1, chapter 2 provides a
comprehensive review of the current thinking of the role of Wnt signaling in cartilage
development and disease.