A network of carbohydrate binding proteins – so-called galectins – plays an important role in the degeneration of cartilage in osteoarthritis. A research group at the MedUni Vienna was able to demonstrate this correlation, in cooperation with international study partners. In osteoarthritis, certain galectins are produced by the cartilage cells themselves and accelerate the degeneration process of the cartilage matrix.
Whilst galectins do play a role in cartilage development during childhood growth, they essentially do not occur in healthy adult cartilage. Now discovered that the quantity of galectin-8 found in the cell samples was correspondingly greater with an increasing severity of cartilage degeneration. After its production, this protein is released by the cartilage cells and connects with the cell surfaces, where it causes inflammatory processes and accelerates the matrix degradation of the cartilage tissue. Other galectins, which are otherwise able to perform various functions in the cell, apparently also play an accelerating role here.
Source: Medical University of Vienna