Besides the well-known activities of the prototypical inflammatory cytokines (IL-beta, TNF alpha), a role for chemokines and their receptors in cartilage degradation in osteoarthritis has recently been reported. Human chondrocytes can produce CC and CXC chemokines and express chemokine receptors for both chemokine subfamilies. Engagement of these receptors can induce the release of matrix degrading enzymes such as matrix metalloproteinases 1, 3, and 13, and N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidase. Furthermore GRO alpha, a CXC chemokine acting on CXCR2, can activate an apoptotic pathway in chondrocytes that leads to chondrocyte cell death. These findings suggest that chemokines can act as an autocrine or paracrine loop on chondrocytes and can contribute to many pathophysiological patterns present in osteoarthritis. Chemokines and their downstream signaling pathways can be considered novel therapeutic targets in osteoarthritis.

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