Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) is an important trigger of hip osteoarthritis (OA). Epigenetic changes in DNA methyltransferase 3B (DNMT3B) attenuate catabolic gene expression in cartilage hemostasis. This study aimed to examine the articular chondrocyte catabolic state and DNMT3B and 4-aminobutyrate aminotransferase promoter (ABAT) expression during OA progression in FAI. Cartilage samples were collected from the impingement zone of 12 patients with cam FAI (early-FAI) and 12 patients with advanced OA secondary to cam FAI (late-FAI-OA). Five healthy samples were procured from cadavers (ND: nondiseased). Explants were cultured under unstimulated conditions, catabolic stimulus (IL1β), or anabolic stimulus (TGFβ). Histology was performed with safranin-O/fast-green staining. Gene expression was analyzed via qPCR for GAPDH, DNMT3B, ABAT, MMP-13, COL10A1. Methylation specific PCR assessed methylation status at the ABAT promoter. Cartilage samples in early-FAI and late-FAI-OA showed a histological OA phenotype and increased catabolic marker expression (MMP13/COL10A1, ND vs. early-FAI, p = 0.004/p < 0.001, ND vs. late-FAI-OA, p < 0.001/p < 0.001). RT-PCR confirmed DNMT3B underexpression (ND vs. early-FAI, p < 0.001, early-FAI vs. late-FAI-OA, p = 0.016) and ABAT overexpression (ND vs. early-FAI, p < 0.001, early vs. late-FAI-OA, p = 0.035) with advanced disease. End-stage disease showed ABAT promoter hypomethylation. IL1β stimulus accentuated ABAT promoter hypomethylation and led to further ABAT and catabolic marker overexpression in early-FAI and late-FAI-OA while TGFβ normalized these alterations in gene expression. Catabolic and epigenetic molecule expression suggested less catabolism in early-stage disease. Sustained inflammation induced ABAT promoter hypo-methylation causing a catabolic phenotype. Suppression of ABAT by methylation control could be a new target for therapeutic intervention to prevent OA progression in hip FAI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1678-1686
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • DNA methylation
  • articular cartilage
  • epigenetic
  • femoroacetabular impingement
  • hip osteoarthritis


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