Cartilage extracellular matrix metabolism differs in serum and synovial fluid

James A. Martin, Andrew L. Wilkey, Richard A. Brand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Most cartilage explant culture studies assume conventional serum-supplemented growth media are biologically equivalent to the natural synovial fluid which baths cartilage in vivo. Few studies have systematically compared the effects of serum versus synovial fluid in culture. To address this assumption we conducted a series of studies to determine if cartilage matrix synthesis is significantly different in serum-based versus synovial fluid-based media. Normal bovine cartilage explants were cultured in DMEM either alone or supplemented with bovine serum or bovine synovial fluid. Matrix synthesis was measured with radiolabeling techniques. We then compared responses to insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I, a stimulator of matrix synthesis), and interleukin-1β (IL-1β, an inhibitor of matrix synthesis). We observed significantly lower matrix synthesis activity in synovial fluid versus serum. Caution shoud be used in extrapolating studies of cartilage grown in media supplemented with serum rather than synovial fluid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-143
Number of pages5
JournalMethods in Cell Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2002
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported in part by funds from the College of Medicine, The University of Iowa for support of a summer research fellowship for Mr. Wilkey.


  • Cartilage
  • Cytokines
  • Serum
  • Synovial fluid
  • Tissue


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