Cartilage boundary lubrication synergism is mediated by hyaluronan concentration and PRG4 concentration and structure
OBJECTIVES (1) assess the molecular weight dependence of hyaluronan's (HA) cartilage boundary lubricating ability, alone and in combination with proteoglycan 4 (PRG4), at physiological concentrations; (2) determine if HA and PRG4 interact in solution via electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA). METHODS The cartilage boundary lubricating ability of a broad range of MW HA (20 kDa, 132 kDa, 780 kDa, 1.5 MDa, and 5 MDa) at 3.33 mg/ml, both alone and in combination with PRG4 at 450 μg/ml, was assessed using a previously described cartilage-on-cartilage friction test. Static, μ(static, Neq), and kinetic, <μ(kinetic, Neq)>, were calculated. An EMSA was conducted with PRG4 and monodisperse 150 kDa and 1,000 kDa HA. RESULTS Friction coefficients were reduced by HA, in a MW-dependent manner. Values of <μ(kinetic, Neq)> in 20 kDa HA, 0.098 (0.089, 0.108), were significantly greater compared to both 780 kDa, 0.080 (0.072, 0.088), and 5 MDa, 0.079 (0.070, 0.089). Linear regression showed a significant correlation between both μ(static, Neq) and <μ(kinetic, Neq)>, and log HA MW. Friction coefficients were also reduced by PRG4, and with subsequent addition of HA; however the synergistic effect was not dependent on HA MW. Values of <μ(kinetic, Neq)> in PRG4, 0.080 (0.047, 0.113), were significantly greater than values of PRG4+various MW HA (similar in value, averaging 0.040 (0.033, 0.047)). EMSA indicated that migration of 150 kDa and 1,000 kDa HA was retarded when combined with PRG4 at high PRG4:HA ratios. CONCLUSIONS These results suggest alterations in HA MW could significantly affect synovial fluid's cartilage boundary lubricating ability, yet this diminishment in function could be circumvented by physiological levels of PRG4 forming a complex, potentially in solution, with HA.