The identification of a new potential therapeutic target against osteoarthritis is reported in this week's Nature Medicine.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease of the joints that leads to the progressive destruction of cartilage. A molecule known as ADAMTS-5 is known to be crucial for cartilage breakdown in patients with this disease.
Frank Echtermeyer and his colleagues now report that syndecan-4, a membrane protein, is specifically found on cartilage cells both in humans and mice with osteoarthritis. Moreover, the loss of syndecan-4 protected mice from osteoarthritic damage. The scientists found that syndecan-4 inhibition significantly decrease the activity of ADAMTS-5, thereby disclosing a previously unknown mechanism for the action of the ADAMTS-5 molecule.
These data indicate that strategies aimed at the inhibition of syndecan-4 could be of great value for the treatment of cartilage damage in osteoarthritis.