51 Scopus citations


Osteoarthritis (OA) is a painful and debilitating condition of synovial joints without any disease-modifying therapies [A. M. Valdes, T. D. Spector, Nat. Rev. Rheumatol. 7, 23–32 (2011)]. We previously identified mechanosensitive PIEZO channels, PIEZO1 and PIEZO2, both expressed in articular cartilage, to function in chondrocyte mechanotransduction in response to injury [W. Lee et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 111, E5114–E5122 (2014); W. Lee, F. Guilak, W. Liedtke, Curr. Top. Membr. 79, 263–273 (2017)]. We therefore asked whether interleukin-1–mediated inflammatory signaling, as occurs in OA, influences Piezo gene expression and channel function, thus indicative of maladaptive reprogramming that can be rationally targeted. Primary porcine chondrocyte culture and human osteoarthritic cartilage tissue were studied. We found that interleukin-1α (IL-1α) up-regulated Piezo1 in porcine chondrocytes. Piezo1 expression was significantly increased in human osteoarthritic cartilage. Increased Piezo1 expression in chondrocytes resulted in a feed-forward pathomechanism whereby increased function of Piezo1 induced excess intracellular Ca2+ at baseline and in response to mechanical deformation. Elevated resting state Ca2+ in turn rarefied the F-actin cytoskeleton and amplified mechanically induced deformation microtrauma. As intracellular substrates of this OA-related inflammatory pathomechanism, in porcine articular chondrocytes exposed to IL-1α, we discovered that enhanced Piezo1 expression depended on p38 MAP-kinase and transcription factors HNF4 and ATF2/CREBP1. CREBP1 directly bound to the proximal PIEZO1 gene promoter. Taken together, these signaling and genetic reprogramming events represent a detrimental Ca2+-driven feed-forward mechanism that can be rationally targeted to stem the progression of OA.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2001611118
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number13
StatePublished - Mar 30 2021


  • Interleukin-1
  • Osteoarthritis
  • PIEZO1
  • Piezo1 gene regulation


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