NAMPT (visfatin), a direct target of hypoxia-inducible factor-2α, is an essential catabolic regulator of osteoarthritis

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Abstract

Objective

Hypoxia-inducible factor 2α (HIF-2α), encoded by Epas1, causes osteoarthritic cartilage destruction by regulating the expression of matrix-degrading enzymes. We undertook this study to explore the role of nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (NAMPT or visfatin) in HIF-2α-mediated osteoarthritic cartilage destruction.

Methods

The expression of HIF-2α, NAMPT and matrix-degrading enzymes was determined at the mRNA and protein levels in human osteoarthritis (OA) cartilage, mouse experimental OA cartilage and primary cultured mouse chondrocytes. Experimental OA in mice was induced by destabilisation of the medial meniscus (DMM) surgery or intra-articular injection of Ad-Epas1 or Ad-Nampt in wild-type, Epas1+/−, Epas1fl/fl;Col2a1-Cre and Col2a1-Nampt transgenic (TG) mice. Primary cultured mouse chondrocytes were treated with recombinant NAMPT protein or were infected with adenoviruses.

Results

We found that the Nampt gene is a direct target of HIF-2α in articular chondrocytes and OA cartilage. NAMPT protein, in turn, increased mRNA levels and activities of MMP3, MMP12 and MMP13 in chondrocytes, an action that was necessary for HIF-2α-induced expression of catabolic enzymes. Gain-of-function studies (intra-articular injection of Ad-Nampt; Col2a1-Nampt TG mice) and loss-of-function studies (intra-articular injection of the NAMPT inhibitor FK866) demonstrated that NAMPT is an essential catabolic regulator of osteoarthritic cartilage destruction caused by HIF-2α or DMM surgery.

Conclusions

Our findings indicate that NAMPT, whose corresponding gene is a direct target of HIF-2α, plays an essential catabolic role in OA pathogenesis and acts as a crucial mediator of osteoarthritic cartilage destruction caused by HIF-2α or DMM surgery.

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