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1.  Migfilin’s elimination from osteoarthritic chondrocytes further promotes the osteoarthritic phenotype via β-catenin upregulation 
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a debilitating disease of the joints characterized by cartilage degradation but to date there is no available pharmacological treatment to inhibit disease progression neither is there any available biomarker to predict its development. In the present study, we examined the expression level and possible involvement of novel cell-ECM adhesion-related molecules such as Iintegrin Linked Kinase (ILK), PINCH, parvin, Mig-2 and Migfilin in OA pathogenesis using primary human articular chondrocytes from healthy individuals and OA patients. Our findings show that only ILK and Migfilin were upregulated in OA compared to the normal chondrocytes. Interestingly, Migfilin silencing in OA chondrocytes rather exacerbated than ameliorated the osteoarthritic phenotype, as it resulted in even higher levels of catabolic and hypertrophic markers while at the same time induced reduction in ECM molecules such as aggrecan. Furthermore, we also provide a link between Migfilin and β-catenin activation in OA chondrocytes, showing Migfilin to be inversely correlated with β-catenin. Thus, the present study emphasizes for the first time to our knowledge the role of Migfilin in OA and highlights the importance of cell-ECM adhesion proteins in OA pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3764434  PMID: 23237804
osteoarthritis; Migfilin; β-catenin; chondrocytes; extracellular matrix
2.  Association of a BMP5 microsatellite with knee osteoarthritis: case-control study 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(6):R257.
We aimed to explore the involvement of a multiallelic functional polymorphism in knee osteoarthritis (OA) susceptibility as a prototype of possible genetic factors escaping GWAS detection.
OA patients and controls from three European populations (Greece, Spain and the UK) adding up to 1003 patients (716 women, 287 men) that had undergone total knee joint replacement (TKR) due to severe primary OA and 1543 controls (758 women, 785 men) lacking clinical signs or symptoms of OA were genotyped for the D6S1276 microsatellite in intron 1 of BMP5. Genotype and mutiallelic trend tests were used to compare cases and controls.
Significant association was found between the microsatellite and knee OA in women (P from 3.1 x10-4 to 4.1 x10-4 depending on the test), but not in men. Three of the alleles showed significant differences between patients and controls, one of them of increased risk and two of protection. The gender association and the allele direction of change were very concordant with those previously reported for hip OA.
We have found association of knee OA in women with the D6S1276 functional microsatellite that modifies in cis the expression of BMP5 making this a sounder OA genetic factor and extending its involvement to other joints. This result also shows the interest of analysing other multiallelic polymorphisms.
PMCID: PMC3674626  PMID: 23186552
3.  Central Role of SREBP-2 in the Pathogenesis of Osteoarthritis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e35753.
Recent studies have implied that osteoarthritis (OA) is a metabolic disease linked to deregulation of genes involved in lipid metabolism and cholesterol efflux. Sterol Regulatory Element Binding Proteins (SREBPs) are transcription factors regulating lipid metabolism with so far no association with OA. Our aim was to test the hypothesis that SREBP-2, a gene that plays a key role in cholesterol homeostasis, is crucially involved in OA pathogenesis and to identify possible mechanisms of action.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We performed a genetic association analysis using a cohort of 1,410 Greek OA patients and healthy controls and found significant association between single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) 1784G>C in SREBP-2 gene and OA development. Moreover, the above SNP was functionally active, as normal chondrocytes’ transfection with SREBP-2-G/C plasmid resulted in interleukin-1β and metalloproteinase-13 (MMP-13) upregulation. We also evaluated SREBP-2, its target gene 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzymeA reductase (HMGCR), phospho-phosphoinositide3-kinase (PI3K), phospho-Akt, integrin-alphaV (ITGAV) and transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) mRNA and protein expression levels in osteoarthritic and normal chondrocytes and found that they were all significantly elevated in OA chondrocytes. To test whether TGF-β alone can induce SREBP-2, we treated normal chondrocytes with TGF-β and found significant upregulation of SREBP-2, HMGCR, phospho-PI3K and MMP-13. We also showed that TGF-β activated aggrecan (ACAN) in chondrocytes only through Smad3, which interacts with SREBP-2. Finally, we examined the effect of an integrin inhibitor, cyclo-RGDFV peptide, on osteoarthritic chondrocytes, and found that it resulted in significant upregulation of ACAN and downregulation of SREBP-2, HMGCR, phospho-PI3K and MMP-13 expression levels.
We demonstrated, for the first time, the association of SREBP-2 with OA pathogenesis and provided evidence on the molecular mechanism involved. We suggest that TGF-β induces SREBP-2 pathway activation through ITGAV and PI3K playing a key role in OA and that integrin blockage may be a potential molecular target for OA treatment.
PMCID: PMC3360703  PMID: 22662110
4.  A Genome-Wide Association Study identifies a locus on chromosome 7q22 to influence susceptibility for osteoarthritis 
Arthritis and Rheumatism  2010;62(2):499-510.
To identify genes involved in osteoarthritis (OA), the most prevalent form of joint disease, we performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in which we tested 500,510 Single Nucelotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) in 1341 OA cases and 3496 Dutch Caucasian controls. SNPs associated with at least two OA-phenotypes were analysed in 14,938 OA cases and approximately 39,000 controls. The C-allele of rs3815148 on chromosome 7q22 (MAF 23%, 172 kb upstream of the GPR22 gene) was consistently associated with a 1.14-fold increased risk (95%CI: 1.09–1.19) for knee- and/or hand-OA (p=8×10−8), and also with a 30% increased risk for knee-OA progression (95%CI: 1.03–1.64, p=0.03). This SNP is in almost complete linkage disequilibrium with rs3757713 (located 68 kb upstream of GPR22) which is associated with GPR22 expression levels in lymphoblast cell lines (p=4×10−12). GPR22 encodes an G-protein coupled receptor with unkown ligand (orphan receptor). Immunohistochemistry experiments showed absence of GPR22 in normal mouse articular cartilage or synovium. However, GPR22 positive chondrocytes were found in the upper layers of the articular cartilage of mouse knee joints that were challenged by in vivo papain treatment or in the presence of interleukin-1 driven inflammation. GRP22 positive chondrocyte-like cells were also found in osteophytes in instability-induced OA. In addition, GPR22 is also present in areas of the brain involved in locomotor function. Our findings reveal a novel common variant on chromosome 7q22 to influence susceptibility for prevalence and progression of OA.
PMCID: PMC3354739  PMID: 20112360
5.  Bone morphogenetic protein-2-induced Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway activation through enhanced low-density-lipoprotein receptor-related protein 5 catabolic activity contributes to hypertrophy in osteoarthritic chondrocytes 
Events normally taking place in the terminal chondrocyte differentiation in the growth plate are also observed during osteoarthritis (OA) development, suggesting that molecules, such as Wnts and bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) regulating chondrocyte activity in the growth plate, may play a key role in osteoarthritis pathogenesis. The aim of the study was to investigate the possible cross-talk between BMP-2 and Wnt/β-catenin pathways in OA progression.
Low-density-lipoprotein receptor-related protein 5 (LRP-5) and 6, BMP-2, -4, and -7, bone morphogenetic protein receptor-IA and IB (BMPR-IA and BMPR-IA), lymphoid enhancer factor-1 (LEF-1), and transcription factor 4 (TCF-4) expression levels were investigated in normal and osteoarthritic chondrocytes. LRP-5, β-catenin (phospho and active form), matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) 7, 9, 13, 14, ADAMTS-4, 5, as well as collagen X (COL10A1) expression levels were evaluated after LRP-5 silencing in BMP-2-treated chondrocytes. The investigation of Smad1/5/8 binding to LRP-5 promoter was assessed with chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP). Furthermore, we evaluated the effect of experimental activation of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway with LiCl and LEF-1 silencing, in LiCl-treated chondrocytes, on matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) 7, 9, 13, 14, ADAMTS-4, 5, and collagen X (COL10A1) expression, as well as possible interactions between LEF-1 and MMPs and COL10A1 promoters by using a ChIP assay.
LRP-5, BMP-2, BMP-4, BMPR-IA, and LEF-1 mRNA and protein expression levels were found to be significantly upregulated in osteoarthritic chondrocytes compared with normal. We showed that treatment of cultured chondrocytes with BMP-2 resulted in increased β-catenin nuclear translocation and LRP-5 expression and that the BMP-2-induced LRP-5 upregulation is mediated through Smad1/5/8 binding on LRP-5 promoter. LRP-5 silencing reduced nuclear β-catenin protein levels, MMPs and collagen X expression, whereas increased phospho-β-catenin protein levels in BMP-2-treated chondrocyte. Furthermore, we demonstrated that activation of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway by LiCl and LEF-1 downregulation by using siRNA regulates MMP-9, 13, 14, ADAMTS-5, and COL10A1 expression, evidenced by the observed strong binding of LEF-1 to MMP-9, 13, 14, ADAMTS-5 and COL10A promoters.
Our findings suggest, for the first time to our knowledge, that BMP-2-induced Wnt/β-catenin signaling activation through LRP-5 may contribute to chondrocyte hypertrophy and cartilage degradation in osteoarthritis.
PMCID: PMC3446456  PMID: 22513174
6.  Common genetic variation in the Estrogen Receptor Beta (ESR2) gene and osteoarthritis: results of a meta-analysis 
BMC Medical Genetics  2010;11:164.
The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between common genetic variation of the ESR2 gene and osteoarthritis.
In the discovery study, the Rotterdam Study-I, 7 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were genotyped and tested for association with hip (284 cases, 2772 controls), knee (665 cases, 2075 controls), and hand OA (874 cases, 2184 controls) using an additive model. In the replication stage one SNP (rs1256031) was tested in an additional 2080 hip, 1318 knee and 557 hand OA cases and 4001, 2631 and 1699 controls respectively. Fixed- and random-effects meta-analyses were performed over the complete dataset including 2364 hip, 1983 knee and 1431 hand OA cases and approximately 6000 controls.
The C allele of rs1256031 was associated with a 36% increased odds of hip OA in women of the Rotterdam Study-I (OR 1.36, 95% CI 1.08-1.70, p = 0.009). Haplotype analysis and analysis of knee- and hand OA did not give additional information. With the replication studies, the meta-analysis did not show a significant effect of this SNP on hip OA in the total population (OR 1.06, 95% CI 0.99-1.15, p = 0.10). Stratification according to gender did not change the results. In this study, we had 80% power to detect an odds ratio of at least 1.14 for hip OA (α = 0.05).
This study showed that common genetic variation in the ESR2 gene is not likely to influence the risk of osteoarthritis with effects smaller than a 13% increase.
PMCID: PMC2997092  PMID: 21080949
7.  Leptin as a critical regulator of hepatocellular carcinoma development through modulation of human telomerase reverse transcriptase 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:442.
Numerous epidemiological studies have documented that obesity is associated with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The aim of this study was to investigate the biological actions regulated by leptin, the obesity biomarker molecule, and its receptors in HCC and the correlation between leptin and human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT), a known mediator of cellular immortalization.
We investigated the relationship between leptin, leptin receptors and hTERT mRNA expression in HCC and healthy liver tissue samples. In HepG2 cells, chromatin immunoprecipitation assay was used to study signal transducer and activator of transcription-3 (STAT3) and myc/mad/max transcription factors downstream of leptin which could be responsible for hTERT regulation. Flow cytometry was used for evaluation of cell cycle modifications and MMP1, 9 and 13 expression after treatment of HepG2 cells with leptin. Blocking of leptin's expression was achieved using siRNA against leptin and transfection with liposomes.
We showed, for the first time, that leptin's expression is highly correlated with hTERT expression levels in HCC liver tissues. We also demonstrated in HepG2 cells that leptin-induced up-regulation of hTERT and TA was mediated through binding of STAT3 and Myc/Max/Mad network proteins on hTERT promoter. We also found that leptin could affect hepatocellular carcinoma progression and invasion through its interaction with cytokines and matrix mettaloproteinases (MMPs) in the tumorigenic microenvironment. Furthermore, we showed that histone modification contributes to leptin's gene regulation in HCC.
We propose that leptin is a key regulator of the malignant properties of hepatocellular carcinoma cells through modulation of hTERT, a critical player of oncogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2931493  PMID: 20723213
8.  New Sequence Variants in HLA Class II/III Region Associated with Susceptibility to Knee Osteoarthritis Identified by Genome-Wide Association Study 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(3):e9723.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common disease that has a definite genetic component. Only a few OA susceptibility genes that have definite functional evidence and replication of association have been reported, however. Through a genome-wide association study and a replication using a total of ∼4,800 Japanese subjects, we identified two single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (rs7775228 and rs10947262) associated with susceptibility to knee OA. The two SNPs were in a region containing HLA class II/III genes and their association reached genome-wide significance (combined P = 2.43×10−8 for rs7775228 and 6.73×10−8 for rs10947262). Our results suggest that immunologic mechanism is implicated in the etiology of OA.
PMCID: PMC2841168  PMID: 20305777
9.  Influence of Interleukin 1α (IL-1α), IL-4, and IL-6 Polymorphisms on Genetic Susceptibility to Chronic Osteomyelitis▿  
Clinical and Vaccine Immunology : CVI  2008;15(12):1888-1890.
The association between cytokine gene polymorphisms and chronic osteomyelitis was investigated in order to determine whether genetic variability in cytokine genes predisposes to osteomyelitis susceptibility. Significant genotypic and allelic associations were observed between interleukin 1α (IL-1α) −889-C/T, IL-4 −1098-G/T and −590-C/T, and IL-6 −174-G/C polymorphisms and osteomyelitis in the Greek population, pointing towards their potential involvement in osteomyelitis pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2593176  PMID: 18971305
10.  Evaluation of MMP1 and MMP3 gene polymorphisms in exfoliation syndrome and exfoliation glaucoma 
Molecular Vision  2009;15:2890-2895.
To investigate possible genetic associations of matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP1) and MMP3 gene polymorphisms with exfoliation syndrome (XFS) with (XFS/+G) and without (XFS/-G) glaucoma in a cohort of Greek patients.
A total of 182 unrelated Greek patients with XFS, including 92 patients with XFS/+G, and 214 unrelated age- and gender-matched controls were enrolled in the study. MMP1 -1607 1G/2G (rs1799750) and MMP3 -1171 5A/6A (rs3025058) polymorphisms were determined using standard PCR/restriction fragment length polymorphism methods. Differences in allele and genotype distributions were analyzed using logistic regression.
The distribution of genotypes and alleles in MMP1 and MMP3 polymorphisms was not significantly different between cases with exfoliation syndrome, with or without glaucoma, and controls. However, the allele contrast for the MMP1 variant showed a trend for a significant association with XFS/-G (Odds Ratio=1.47 [1.03–2.10]), since after correction for multiple comparisons, this association was no longer statistically significant.
Our study provided some evidence of a possible role of the MMP1 variant in the development of exfoliation syndrome in Greek patients.
PMCID: PMC2797043  PMID: 20038976
11.  Integrative MicroRNA and Proteomic Approaches Identify Novel Osteoarthritis Genes and Their Collaborative Metabolic and Inflammatory Networks 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(11):e3740.
Osteoarthritis is a multifactorial disease characterized by destruction of the articular cartilage due to genetic, mechanical and environmental components affecting more than 100 million individuals all over the world. Despite the high prevalence of the disease, the absence of large-scale molecular studies limits our ability to understand the molecular pathobiology of osteoathritis and identify targets for drug development.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In this study we integrated genetic, bioinformatic and proteomic approaches in order to identify new genes and their collaborative networks involved in osteoarthritis pathogenesis. MicroRNA profiling of patient-derived osteoarthritic cartilage in comparison to normal cartilage, revealed a 16 microRNA osteoarthritis gene signature. Using reverse-phase protein arrays in the same tissues we detected 76 differentially expressed proteins between osteoarthritic and normal chondrocytes. Proteins such as SOX11, FGF23, KLF6, WWOX and GDF15 not implicated previously in the genesis of osteoarthritis were identified. Integration of microRNA and proteomic data with microRNA gene-target prediction algorithms, generated a potential “interactome” network consisting of 11 microRNAs and 58 proteins linked by 414 potential functional associations. Comparison of the molecular and clinical data, revealed specific microRNAs (miR-22, miR-103) and proteins (PPARA, BMP7, IL1B) to be highly correlated with Body Mass Index (BMI). Experimental validation revealed that miR-22 regulated PPARA and BMP7 expression and its inhibition blocked inflammatory and catabolic changes in osteoarthritic chondrocytes.
Our findings indicate that obesity and inflammation are related to osteoarthritis, a metabolic disease affected by microRNA deregulation. Gene network approaches provide new insights for elucidating the complexity of diseases such as osteoarthritis. The integration of microRNA, proteomic and clinical data provides a detailed picture of how a network state is correlated with disease and furthermore leads to the development of new treatments. This strategy will help to improve the understanding of the pathogenesis of multifactorial diseases such as osteoarthritis and provide possible novel therapeutic targets.
PMCID: PMC2582945  PMID: 19011694

Results 1-11 (11)