© 2015 Pest et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Background: Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease with poorly understood etiology and pathobiology. Mitogen activated protein kinases (MAPKs) including ERKand p38 play important roles in the mediation of downstream pathways involved in cartilage degenerative processes. Dual specificity phosphatase 1 (DUSP1) dephosphorylates the threonine/serine and tyrosine sites on ERK and p38, causing deactivation of downstream signalling. In this study we examined the role of DUSP1 in spontaneous OA development at 21 months of age using a genetically modified mouse model deficient in Dusp1 (DUSP1 knockout mouse). Results: Utilizing histochemical stains of paraffin embedded knee joint sections in DUSP1 knockout and wild type female and male mice, we showed similar structural progression of cartilage degeneration associated with OA at 21 months of age. A semi-quantitative cartilage degeneration scoring system also demonstrated similar scores in the various aspects of the knee joint articular cartilage in DUSP1 knockout and control mice. Examination of overall articular cartilage thickness in the knee joint demonstrated similar results between DUSP1 knockout and wild type mice. Immunostaining for cartilage neoepitopes DIPEN, TEGE and C1,2C was similar in the cartilage lesion sites and chondrocyte pericellular matrix of both experimental groups. Likewise, immunostaining for phosphoERK and MMP13 showed similar intensity and localization between groups. SOX9 immunostaining demonstrated a decreased number of positive cells in DUSP1 knockout mice, with correspondingly decreased staining intensity. Analysis of animal walking patterns (gait) did not show a discernable difference between groups. Conclusion: Loss of DUSP1 does not cause changes in cartilage degeneration and gait in a mouse model of spontaneous OA at 21 months of age. Altered staining was observed in SOX9 immunostaining which may prove promising for future studies examining the role of DUSPs in cartilage and OA, as well as models of post-traumatic OA.
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