Evaluation of the Anti-Inflammatory and Chondroprotective Effect of Celecoxib on Cartilage Ex Vivo and in a Rat Osteoarthritis Model

Mirella J.J. Haartmans, Ufuk Tan Timur, Kaj S. Emanuel, Marjolein M.J. Caron, Ralph M. Jeuken, Tim J.M. Welting, Gerjo J.V.M. van Osch, Ron M.A. Heeren, Berta Cillero-Pastor*, Pieter J. Emans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


OBJECTIVE: The potential chondroprotective effect of celecoxib, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug and selective cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitor used to reduce pain and inflammation in knee osteoarthritis patients, is disputed. This study aimed at investigating the chondroprotective effects of celecoxib on (1) human articular cartilage explants and (2) in an in vivo osteoarthritis rat model. DESIGN: Articular cartilage explants from 16 osteoarthritis patients were cultured for 24 hours with celecoxib or vehicle. Secreted prostaglandins (prostaglandin E2, prostaglandin F2α, prostaglandin D2) and thromboxane B2 (TXB2) concentrations were determined in medium by ELISA, and protein regulation was measured with label-free proteomics. Cartilage samples from 7 of these patients were analyzed for gene expression using real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction. To investigate the chondroprotective effect of celecoxib in vivo, 14 rats received an intra-articular injection of celecoxib or 0.9% NaCl after osteoarthritis induction by anterior cruciate ligament transection and partial medial meniscectomy (ACLT/pMMx model). Histopathological scoring was used to evaluate osteoarthritis severity 12 weeks after injection. RESULTS: Secretion of prostaglandins, target of Nesh-SH3 (ABI3BP), and osteonectin proteins decreased, whereas tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 2 (TIMP-2) increased significantly after celecoxib treatment in the human (ex vivo) explant culture. Gene expression of a disintegrin and metalloproteinase with thrombospondin motifs 4 and 5 (ADAMTS4/5) and metalloproteinase 13 (MMP13) was significantly reduced after celecoxib treatment in human cartilage explants. Cartilage degeneration was reduced significantly in an in vivo osteoarthritis knee rat model. CONCLUSIONS: Our data demonstrated that celecoxib acts chondroprotective on cartilage ex vivo and a single intra-articular bolus injection has a chondroprotective effect in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number3
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgments and Funding
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by the academic fund of Maastricht University Medical Center, Dutch Arthritis Foundation (LLP14), and Annadal Foundation, as well as by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) domain Applied and Engineering Sciences (P15-23). The research conducted at the M4i institute was funded by the Dutch Province of Limburg through the LINK (Limburg INvesteert in haar Kenniseconomie) program.


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