Oleic/Palmitate Induces Apoptosis in Human Articular Chondrocytes via Upregulation of NOX4 Expression and ROS Production

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The association between obesity and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production in osteoarthritis (OA) patients has already been identified. However, the specific mechanism underlying ROS production and OA progression has never been elucidated. Osteoarthritic cartilage was obtained from patients undergoing total hip arthroplasty, and chondrocytes were isolated from these tissues. The cells were treated with varying concentrations (10,100,500 μM, and 5 mM) of oleic/palmitate (O/P) mixture at different times, that is at 6, 24, and 48 h. Cell viability was determined using MTT assay. ROS production was detected using immunofluorescence and flow cytometry. The protein levels of NOX4 and cleaved-caspase3 were detected using Western blot assay. O/P significantly decreased cell viability at 10, 100, 500 μM, and 5 mM in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, the cell viability was reduced by 500 μM O/P mixture at 6, 24, and 48 h in a time-dependent manner. Pretreatment with 500 μM O/P significantly enhanced ROS production and cell apoptosis in chondrocytes. Furthermore, treatment with O/P mixture significantly enhanced the expression of NOX4 and caspase3 activation in a dose- and time- dependent manner. More importantly, inhibition of NOX4 could partially eliminate O/P-induced chondrocytes apoptosis by reducing ROS production. To conclude, O/P treatment enhances ROS production and cell apoptosis mainly by upregulating the protein levels of NOX4 and caspase3 activation in chondrocytes, indicating a potential therapeutic target of OA in obesity patients.

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