Changes in cell shape and volume are believed to play a role in the process of mechanical signal transduction by chondrocytes in articular cartilage. One proposed pathway through which chondrocyte deformation may be transduced to an intracellular signal is through cytoskeletally mediated deformation of intracellular organelles, and more specifically, of the cell nucleus. In this study, confocal scanning laser microscopy was used to perform in situ three-dimensional morphometric analyses of the nuclei of viable condrocytes during controlled compression of articular cartilage explants from the canine patellofemoral groove. Unconfined compression of the tissue to a 15% surface-to-surface strain resulted in a significant decrease of chondrocyte height and volume by 14.7 ± 6.4 and 11.4 ± 8.4%, respectively, and of nuclear height and volume by 8.8 ± 6.2% and 9.8 ± 8.8%, respectively. Disruption of the actin cytoskeleton using cytochalasin D altered the relationship between matrix deformation and changes in nuclear height and shape, but not volume. The morphology and deformation behavior of the chondrocytes were not affected by cytochalasin treatment. These results suggest that the actin cytoskeleton plays an important role in the link between compression of the extracellular matrix and deformation of the chondrocyte nuclei and imply that chondrocytes and their nuclei undergo significant changes in shape and volume in vivo.
- Actin micro-filament
- Articular cartilage
- Confocal microscopy
- Cytochalasin D
- Mechanical signal transduction