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Arthritis Rheum. 2009 Apr;60(4):1035-41. doi: 10.1002/art.24404.

Expression of MicroRNA-146a in osteoarthritis cartilage.

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  • 1Hiroshima University, Hiroshima, Japan.



A role of microRNA, which are approximately 22-nucleotide noncoding RNAs, has recently been recognized in human diseases. The objective of this study was to identify the expression pattern of microRNA-146a (miR-146a) in cartilage from patients with osteoarthritis (OA).


The expression of miR-146a in cartilage from 15 patients with OA was analyzed by quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and by in situ hybridization. Induction of the expression of miR-146a by cultures of normal human articular chondrocytes following stimulation with interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) was examined by quantitative RT-PCR.


All cartilage samples were divided into 3 groups according to a modification of the Mankin score (grade I = mild OA scored 0-5, grade II = moderate OA scored 6-10, and grade III = severe OA scored 11-14). In grade I OA cartilage samples, the expression of miR-146a and COL2A1 was significantly higher than that in the other groups (P < 0.05). In grades II and III OA cartilage, the expression of miR-146a and COL2A1 was decreased, whereas the expression of matrix metalloproteinase 13 (MMP-13) was elevated in grade II OA cartilage. These data showed that miR-146a is expressed intensely in cartilage with a low Mankin grade and that miR-146a expression decreases in parallel with the level of MMP-13 expression. Tissue section in situ hybridization of primary miR-146a (pri-miR-146a) revealed that pri-miR-146a was expressed in chondrocytes residing in all tissue layers, especially in the superficial layer, where it was intensely expressed. The expression of miR-146 was markedly elevated by IL-1beta stimulation in human chondrocytes in vitro.


This study shows that miR-146 is intensely expressed in low-grade OA cartilage and that its expression is induced by stimulation of IL-1beta. Thus, miR-146 might play a role in OA cartilage pathogenesis.

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