Osteoarthritis, mechanisms of tissue destruction and repair
Research is focused on the pathobiology of osteoarthritis (OA) with a special interest in the role of growth factors and cytokines (e.g. TGF beta, BMPs, Wnts) in pathological processes, such as tissue destruction, inflammation and fibrosis. We were the first to identify the essential role of TGF-beta in the pathophysiology of osteoarthritis. We demonstrated that TGF-beta is cartilage-protective in young cartilage and deleterious in old cartilage, due to altered intercellular signaling. In addition, we were the first to demonstrate that TGF-beta has a crucial role in osteophyte formation and synovial fibrosis in OA. In addition, we have shown that TGF-beta, as well as Bone Morphogenetic Proteins (BMPs), are vital for the intrinsic repair reaction of young cartilage.
We also study on the role of TGF-beta superfamily members in stem cell-derived cartilage regeneration. We want to elucidate the specific role of these factors in all stages of chondrogenic differentiation. Moreover, cartilage regenerations always has to take place a diseased, damaged joint. We have shown that the milieu in a damaged joint has strong negative effects on cartilage regeneration. We want to indentify the crucial players in this process to be able to boost cartilage regeneration in patients.