An excess of glucocorticoids (GCs) is reported to be one of the most common causes of osteonecrosis of the femoral head (ONFH). In addition, GCs can induce bone cell apoptosis through modulating endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. Among the three main signal pathways in ER stress, the PERK (protein kinase RNA-like ER kinase)/CHOP (CCAAT-enhancer-binding protein homologous protein) pathway has been considered to be closely associated with apoptosis. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) has been referred to as a concentration of growth factors and the exosomes derived from PRP (PRP-Exos) have a similar effect to their parent material. The enriched growth factors can be encapsulated into PRP-Exos and activate Akt and Erk pathways to promote angiogenesis. Activation of the Akt pathway may promote the expression of anti-apoptotic proteins like Bcl-2, while CHOP can inhibit B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2) expression to increase the level of cleaved caspase-3 and lead to cell death. Consequently, we hypothesized that PRP-Exos prevent apoptosis induced by glucocorticoid-associated ER stress in rat ONFH via the Akt/Bad/Bcl-2 signal pathway. To verify this hypothesis, a dexamethasone (DEX)-treated in vitro cell model and methylprednisolone (MPS)-treated in vivo rat model were adopted. Characterization of PRP-Exos, and effects of PRP-Exos on proliferation, apoptosis, angiogenesis, and osteogenesis of cells treated with GCs in vitro and in vivo were examined. Furthermore, the mechanism by which PRP-Exos rescue the GC-induced apoptosis through the Akt/Bad/Bcl-2 pathway was also investigated. The results indicate that PRP-Exos have the capability to prevent GC-induced apoptosis in a rat model of ONFH by promoting Bcl-2 expression via the Akt/Bad/Bcl-2 signal pathway under ER stress.
Keywords: apoptosis.; endoplasmic reticulum stress; exosomes; glucocorticoids; osteonecrosis of the femoral head; platelet-rich plasma.