Journal of Bone and Mineral Metabolism

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 274–284 | Cite as

The effects of physical activity on apoptosis and lubricin expression in articular cartilage in rats with glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis

  • Giuseppe MusumeciEmail author
  • Carla Loreto
  • Rosalia Leonardi
  • Sergio Castorina
  • Salvatore Giunta
  • Maria Luisa Carnazza
  • Francesca Maria Trovato
  • Karin Pichler
  • Annelie Martina Weinberg
Original Article


Glucocorticoids are considered the most powerful anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating drugs. However, a number of side-effects are well documented in different diseases, including articular cartilage, where increases or decreases in the synthesis of hormone-dependent extracellular matrix components are seen. The objective of this study has been to test the effects of procedures or drugs affecting bone metabolism on articular cartilage in rats with prednisolone-induced osteoporosis and to evaluate the outcomes of physical activity with treadmill and vibration platform training on articular cartilage. The animals were divided into 5 groups, and bone and cartilage evaluations were performed using whole-body scans and histomorphometric analysis. Lubricin and caspase-3 expression were evaluated by immunohistochemistry, Western blot analysis and biochemical analysis. These results confirm the beneficial effect of physical activity on the articular cartilage. The effects of drug therapy with glucocorticoids decrease the expression of lubricin and increase the expression of caspase-3 in the rats, while after physical activity the values return to normal compared to the control group. Our findings suggest that it might be possible that mechanical stimulation in the articular cartilage could induce the expression of lubricin, which is capable of inhibiting caspase-3 activity, preventing chondrocyte death. We can assume that the physiologic balance between lubricin and caspase-3 could maintain the integrity of cartilage. Therefore, in certain diseases such as osteoporosis, mechanical stimulation could be a possible therapeutic treatment. With our results we can propose the hypothesis that physical activity could also be used as a therapeutic treatment for cartilage disease such as osteoarthritis.


Articular cartilage Glucocorticoids Lubricin Caspase 3 Physical activity 



This study was supported by grants provided by the Medicine and Surgery Faculty of Catania, Department of Bio-Medical Sciences, Section of Human Anatomy and Histology, University of Catania.

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© The Japanese Society for Bone and Mineral Research and Springer Japan 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giuseppe Musumeci
    • 1
    Email author
  • Carla Loreto
    • 1
  • Rosalia Leonardi
    • 2
  • Sergio Castorina
    • 1
  • Salvatore Giunta
    • 1
  • Maria Luisa Carnazza
    • 1
  • Francesca Maria Trovato
    • 3
  • Karin Pichler
    • 4
    • 5
  • Annelie Martina Weinberg
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Bio-Medical Sciences, Human Anatomy and Histology SectionUniversity of CataniaCataniaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, II Dental UnityUniversity of CataniaCataniaItaly
  3. 3.Departments of Internal Medicine, School of MedicineUniversity of CataniaCataniaItaly
  4. 4.Department of Pediatric and Adolescent SurgeryMedical University of GrazGrazAustria
  5. 5.Department of Orthopaedic SurgeryMedical University of GrazGrazAustria

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