MicroRNA-140 Suppresses Human Chondrocytes Hypertrophy by Targeting SMAD1 and Controlling the Bone Morphogenetic Protein Pathway in Osteoarthritis

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Abstract

Background:

This study aimed to investigate the expression levels and relationship of bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) signaling molecules and microRNA-140 (miR-140) in human osteoarthritis (OA) chondrocytes.

Materials and Methods:

Different stage chondrocytes (normal cartilage, mid-stage OA and advanced-stage OA) were isolated from cartilage samples according to Kellgren and Lawrence criteria. The effect of miR-140 on BMPs signaling was evaluated by transfecting miR-140 mimic or inhibitor into chondrocytes. The expression of responsive genes was measured using real-time polymerase chain reaction and Western blotting analysis.

Results:

There was a significant reduction in miR-140 and SOX9 expression in OA groups compared to the normal group, and there was a further reduction in the severe OA group compared to the moderate OA group. Compared with the normal group, the expression of ALK1, SMAD1, COL10A1 and MMP3 was higher in the OA groups, whereas the expression of COL2A1 was lower in the OA groups. In the moderate OA group, transfection with miR-140 mimic increased SMAD1, SOX9 and COL2A1 expression, but decreased COL10A1 expression. However, there was an opposite effect after transfecting miR-140 inhibitor with decreased SMAD1, SOX9 and COL2A1 expression, and increased COL10A1 expression. Interestingly, the biological effect of transfecting miR-140 mimic or inhibitor was similar in the severe OA group. SMAD1 and COL2A1 protein production followed the same pattern as their expression profile.

Conclusions:

miR-140 suppresses chondrocytes hypertrophy by controlling the BMPs signaling pathway, which highlights the importance of miR-140 in the maintenance of chondrocyte homeostasis and opens up novel avenues in OA therapeutic strategies.

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