Objective—To determine effects of various concentrations of retinoic acid (RA) or a synthetic RA receptor antagonist (LE135) on equine chondrocytes or bone marrow—derived equine mesenchymal stem cells (BMDMSCs) in monolayer cultures.
Sample—Articular cartilage and BMDMSCs from 5 clinically normal horses.
Procedures—Monolayers of chondrocytes cultured in standard media and of BMDMSCs cultured in chondrogenic media were treated with RA at concentrations of 0, 0.1, 1, or 10μM or LE135 at concentrations of 0, 0.1, 1, or 10μM on day 0. On days 7 and 14, samples were analyzed for DNA concentration, chondrocyte morphology or features consistent with chondrogenesis (ie, chondral morphology [scored from 0 to 4]), and gene expression of collagen type Ia (CI), collagen type II (CII), and aggrecan.
Results—Chondrocytes treated with RA had more mature chondral morphology (range of median scores, 3.0 to 4.0) than did untreated controls (range of median scores, 0.5 to 0.5). Chondrocytes treated with LE135 did not sustain chondrocyte morphology. All BMDMSCs had evidence of chondral morphology or high CII:CI ratio. Retinoic acid (1 or 10μM) or LE135 (10μM) treatment decreased DNA content of BMDMSC cultures. At 0.1 and 1μM concentrations, LE135 weakly but significantly increased chondral morphology scores, compared with untreated controls, but lack of aggrecan expression and lack of increased CII:CI ratio, compared with that of controls, did not affect chondrogenesis.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—RA promoted maturation and hypertrophy in chondrocytes but not BMDMSCs in monolayer cultures. Deficiency or blockade of RA may prevent hypertrophy and maturation of differentiated chondrocytes.