Detecting cathepsin activity in human osteoarthritis via activity-based probes

Louisa Ben-Aderet, Emmanuelle Merquiol, Duha Fahham, Ashok Kumar, Eli Reich, Yael Ben-Nun, Leonid Kandel, Amir Haze, Meir Liebergall, Marta K. Kosińska, Juergen Steinmeyer, Boris Turk, Galia Blum, Mona Dvir-Ginzberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Introduction: Lysosomal cathepsins have been reported to contribute to Osteoarthritis (OA) pathophysiology due to their increase in pro-inflammatory conditions. Given the causal role of cathepsins in OA, monitoring their specific activity could provide means for assessing OA severity. To this end, we herein sought to assess a cathepsin activity-based probe (ABP), GB123, in vitro and in vivo. Methods: Protein levels and activity of cathepsins B and S were monitored by immunoblot analysis and GB123 labeling in cultured primary chondrocytes and conditioned media, following stimuli with tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) and/or Interleukin 1 beta (IL-1β). Similarly, cathepsin activity was examined in sections of intact cartilage (IC) and degraded cartilage (DC) regions of OA. Finally, synovial fluid (SF) and serum from donors with no signs of diseases, early OA, late OA and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients were analyzed with GB123 to detect distinct activity levels of cathepsin B and S. Results: Cathepsin activity in cell lysates, conditioned media explants and DC sections showed enhanced enzymatic activity of cathepsins B and S. Further histological analysis revealed that cathepsin activity was found higher in superficial zones of DC than in IC. Examining serum and SF revealed that cathepsin B is significantly elevated with OA severity in serum and SF, yet levels of cathepsin S are more correlated with synovitis and RA. Conclusions: Based on our data, cathepsin activity monitored by ABPs correlated well with OA severity and joint inflammation, directing towards a novel etiological target for OA, which possesses significant translational potential in developing means for non-invasive detection of early signs of OA.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number69
JournalArthritis Research and Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 20 Mar 2015

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© Ben-Aderet et al.; licensee BioMed Central.


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