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Arthritis Rheumatol. 2016 Feb;68(2):430-40. doi: 10.1002/art.39433.

Imbalance Between Bone Morphogenetic Protein 2 and Noggin Induces Abnormal Osteogenic Differentiation of Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Ankylosing Spondylitis.

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Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital and Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China.



To study the osteogenic differentiation capacity of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs) from patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and to investigate the mechanisms of abnormal osteogenic differentiation of BM-MSCs in AS.


BM-MSCs from healthy donors (HD-MSCs) and patients with AS (AS-MSCs) were cultured in osteogenic differentiation medium for 0-21 days, after which their osteogenic differentiation capacity was determined using alizarin red S and alkaline phosphatase assays. Gene expression levels of osteoblastic markers and related cytokines were detected by high-throughput quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was performed to detect protein levels of bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP-2) and Noggin in the cell culture supernatant. The activation of Smad1/5/8 and MAPK signaling pathways was measured by Western blotting. The balance between BMP-2 and Noggin expression was regulated using lentiviruses encoding short hairpin RNA and exogenous Noggin, respectively, which enabled evaluation of how this balance affected osteogenic differentiation of AS-MSCs.


AS-MSCs outperformed HD-MSCs in osteogenic differentiation capacity. During osteogenic differentiation, AS-MSCs secreted more BMP-2 but less Noggin, accompanied by an overactivation of Smad1/5/8 and ERK-1/2. When the Noggin concentration was increased or BMP-2 expression was inhibited, the abnormal osteogenic differentiation of AS-MSCs was rectified. In addition, the balance between BMP-2 and Noggin secretion was restored.


The results of this study demonstrate that an imbalance between BMP-2 and Noggin secretion induces abnormal osteogenic differentiation of AS-MSCs. These findings reveal a mechanism of pathologic osteogenesis in AS and provide a new perspective on inhibiting pathologic osteogenesis by regulating the balance between BMP-2 and Noggin.

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