Thrombin peptide TP508 prevents nitric oxide mediated apoptosis in chondrocytes in the endochondral developmental pathway

M. Zhong, L. J. Wike, J. T. Ryaby, D. H. Carney, B. D. Boyan, Z. Schwartz

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6 Scopus citations


TP508 is a 23-amino acid peptide derived from human prothrombin that increases cartilage matrix production and reduces alkaline phosphatase activity without changing chondrocyte proliferation. This study tested the hypothesis that TP508 acts by blocking the onset of apoptosis associated with hypertrophy. Rat costochondral resting zone chondrocytes and human auricular chondrocytes were cultured in DMEM containing 50μM ascorbic acid and 10% FBS. Apoptosis was induced by treatment of confluent cultures with chelerythrine, tamoxifen, or inorganic phosphate (Pi) for 24h. One half of the cultures received TP508 (0, 0.7, or 7μg/ml). Apoptosis was assessed as a function of DNA fragmentation ([3H]-thymidine labeled DNA fragments), TUNEL staining, and cell viability using the MTT assay, as well as by assessing the Bcl-2/Bax mRNA and protein ratios and caspase-3 activity. The universal NO synthase inhibitor l-NMMA was used to assess the effect of NO production on chondrocyte apoptosis and specific NO synthase subspecies were identified using iNOS inhibitor 1400W and nNOS inhibitor vinyl-l-NIO, as well as l-NAME, which inhibits both iNOS and eNOS. Finally, we assessed if TP508 would block NO production induced by the apoptogens. Chelerythrine, tamoxifen and Pi-induced apoptosis and this was reversed by TP508. All apoptogens increased NO production and this was reduced by TP508. TP508 reduced NO levels to the same extent as 1400W but not to the same extent as l-NAME, suggesting that its effects are mediated primarily by iNOS. In addition, TP508 reduced the effect of chelerythrine to the same extent as 1400W and l-NAME, again indicating that it acts via inhibition of an iNOS pathway. TP508 also regulated Bcl-2/Bax mRNA in a time and dose-dependent manner. The Bcl-2/Bax mRNA ratio was 0.11 in the absence of TP508 at 1h and 4.95 at 7μg/ml TP508; by 3h the ratio was approximately 1 in both groups. The Bcl-2/Bax protein ratio also increased by 63% at 1h. TP508 did not affect caspase-3 activity. TP508 also caused a dose-dependent increase in protein kinase C (PKC) activity within 9min that was maximal at 270min. These results show that TP508 prevents apoptosis in growth plate chondrocytes via inhibition of iNOS-dependent NO and suggest a possible role for PKC in the mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-22
Number of pages11
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Cell Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008


  • Apoptosis
  • Chondrocytes
  • Endochondral ossification
  • Growth plate
  • TP508
  • Thrombin peptide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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