The effect of estrogens and dietary calcium deficiency on the extracellular matrix of articular cartilage in Göttingen miniature pigs
Clinical observations have suggested that estrogens are involved in the pathogenesis of postmenopausal osteoarthritis (OA). However, positive and negative associations between the incidence of OA and serum estrogen concentrations have been reported. In contrast to this, osteoporosis is regarded as a disease with a strong estrogen-dependent component. Moreover, there is an interaction between estrogen and calcium deficiency: calcium supplementation potentiates the effect of estrogen therapy. The present study was designed to investigate how estrogen deficiency affects the articular cartilage depending on calcium supply. The distribution of different types of glycosaminoglycans and collagens can be used as an indicator for extracellular matrix changes induced by estrogen deficiency. Different levels of dietary calcium were therefore fed to intact and ovariectomized Göttingen miniature pigs for one year before articular cartilage was harvested. The histochemical staining for heavy sulfated glycosaminoglycans in the extracellular matrix of ovariectomized miniature pigs, especially of those fed with a low calcium diet, was stronger in comparison to intact animals. In intact animals type II-collagen was immunodetected in all zones of unmineralized and mineralized articular cartilage, while immunostaining for this protein was negative to weak in the deep radiated fiber zone of ovariectomized minipigs. These results suggest that the synthesis of heavy sulfated glycosaminoglycans and immunohistochemically detectable type II-collagen is possibly influenced by estrogen deficiency. In conclusion, under estrogen deficiency, the extracellular matrix of articular cartilage underwent similar changes to those observed in physiologically aging cartilage where keratan sulfate is increased as a heavy sulfated glycosaminoglycan.
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