Osteoarthritis (OA) is a major cause of disability and morbidity in the aging population. Joint injury leads to cartilage damage, a known determinant for subsequent development of posttraumatic OA, which accounts for 12% of all OA. Understanding the early molecular and cellular responses postinjury may provide targets for therapeutic interventions that limit articular degeneration. Using a murine model of controlled knee joint impact injury that allows the examination of cartilage responses to injury at specific time points, we show that intraarticular delivery of a peptidic nanoparticle complexed to NF-κB siRNA significantly reduces early chondrocyte apoptosis and reactive synovitis. Our data suggest that NF-κB siRNA nanotherapy maintains cartilage homeostasis by enhancing AMPK signaling while suppressing mTORC1 and Wnt/β-catenin activity. These findings delineate an extensive crosstalk between NF-κB and signaling pathways that govern cartilage responses postinjury and suggest that delivery of NF-κB siRNA nanotherapy to attenuate early inflammation may limit the chronic consequences of joint injury. Therapeutic benefits of siRNA nanotherapy may also apply to primary OA in which NF-κB activation mediates chondrocyte catabolic responses. Additionally, a critical barrier to the successful development of OA treatment includes ineffective delivery of therapeutic agents to the resident chondrocytes in the avascular cartilage. Here, we show that the peptide-siRNA nanocomplexes are nonimmunogenic, are freely and deeply penetrant to human OA cartilage, and persist in chondrocyte lacunae for at least 2 wk. The peptide-siRNA platform thus provides a clinically relevant and promising approach to overcoming the obstacles of drug delivery to the highly inaccessible chondrocytes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E6199-E6208
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number41
StatePublished - Oct 11 2016


  • Autophagy
  • NF-κB
  • Nanomedicine
  • Posttraumatic osteoarthritis
  • SiRNA


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