Serine proteases are active in many physiological and pathological processes within bone tissue. Although essential to adequate maintenance of bone and cartilage, their inappropriate expression can lead to exacerbation of tissue destruction and inflammation. Their effects are exerted through multiple pathways, including interaction with signalling molecules such as transforming growth factor β (TGFβ), binding to protease-activated receptors (PARs), and direct proteolysis of extracellular matrix proteins, in some cases working synergistically with matrix metalloproteases in the remodelling of bone tissue. The overall effect of these interactions is not yet clear, but there are strong links between some serine proteases and arthropathies, in addition to metastatic bone invasion. Understanding the contribution of each of these enzymes to the molecular disease process is crucial to developing effective treatment based on inhibitors or agonists. Serine protease inhibitors have shown promise in reducing the severity of arthritis, but greater specificity is required to avoid undesired systemic effects.
- Bone matrix