Ma B. - WNT Signaling and Cartilage: Of Mice and Men

Bin Ma • Ellie B. M. Landman • Razvan L. Miclea •
Jan M. Wit • Els C. Robanus-Maandag •
Janine N. Post • Marcel Karperien

Calcif Tissue Int. 2012


In adult articular cartilage, the extracellular matrix is maintained by a balance between the degradation and the synthesis of matrix components. Chondrocytes that sparsely reside in the matrix and rarely proliferate are the key cellular mediators for cartilage homeostasis. There are indications for the involvement of the WNT signaling pathway in maintaining articular cartilage. Various WNTs are involved in the subsequent stages of chondrocyte differentiation during development, and deregulation of WNT signaling was observed in cartilage degeneration. Even though gene expression and protein synthesis can be activated upon injury, articular cartilage has a limited ability of self-repair and efforts to regenerate articular cartilage have so far not been successful. Because WNT signaling was found to be involved in the development and maintenance of cartilage as well as in the degeneration of cartilage, interfering with this pathway might contribute to improving cartilage regeneration. However, most of the studies on elucidating the role of WNT signaling in these processes were conducted using in vitro or in vivo animal models. Discrepancies have been found in the role of WNT signaling between chondrocytes of mouse and human origin, and extrapolation of results from mouse models to the human situation remains a challenge. Elucidation of detailed WNT signaling functions will provide knowledge to improve cartilage regeneration.