Epigenomic and microRNA-mediated regulation in cartilage development, homeostasis, and osteoarthritis

Trends Mol Med. 2012 Feb;18(2):109-18. doi: 10.1016/j.molmed.2011.11.005. Epub 2011 Dec 17.


Osteoarthritis (OA) is a multifactorial disease subject to the effects of many genes and environmental factors. Alterations in the normal pattern of chondrocyte gene control in cartilage facilitate the onset and progression of OA. Stable changes in patterns of gene expression, not associated with alterations in DNA sequences, occur through epigenetic changes, including DNA methylation, histone modifications, and alterations in chromatin structure, as well as by microRNA (miRNA)-mediated mechanisms. Moreover, the ability of the host to repair damaged cartilage is reflected in alterations in gene control circuits, suggestive of an epigenetic and miRNA-dependent tug-of-war between tissue homeostasis and OA disease pathogenesis. Herein, we summarize epigenetic and miRNA-mediated mechanisms impacting on OA progression and in this context offer potential therapeutic strategies for OA treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cartilage / metabolism*
  • Cartilage / pathology
  • Chondrocytes / metabolism
  • Chondrocytes / pathology
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Osteoarthritis / genetics*
  • Osteoarthritis / pathology


  • MicroRNAs