microRNA-186 inhibition of PI3K-AKT pathway via SPP1 inhibits chondrocyte apoptosis in mice with osteoarthritis

J Cell Physiol. 2019 May;234(5):6042-6053. doi: 10.1002/jcp.27225. Epub 2018 Nov 30.


Chondrocyte apoptosis has been implicated as a major pathological osteoarthritis (OA) change in humans and experimental animals. We evaluate the ability of miR-186 on chondrocyte apoptosis and proliferation in OA and elucidate the underlying mechanism concerning the regulation of miR-186 in OA. Gene expression microarray analysis was performed to screen differentially expressed messenger RNAs (mRNAs) in OA. To validate the effect of miR-186 on chondrocyte apoptosis, we upregulated or downregulated endogenous miR-186 using mimics or inhibitors. Next, to better understand the regulatory mechanism for miR-186 governing SPP1, we suppressed the endogenous expression of SPP1 by small interfering RNA (siRNA) against SPP1 in chondrocytes. We identified SPP1 is highly expressed in OA according to an mRNA microarray data set GSE82107. After intra-articular injection of papain into mice, the miR-186 is downregulated while the SPP1 is reciprocal, with dysregulated PI3K-AKT pathway in OA cartilages. Intriguingly, miR-186 was shown to increase chondrocyte survival, facilitate cell cycle entry in OA chondrocytes, and inhibit chondrocyte apoptosis in vitro by modulation of pro- and antiapoptotic factors. The determination of luciferase activity suggested that miR-186 negatively targets SPP1. Furthermore, we found that the effect of miR-186 suppression on OA chondrocytes was lost when SPP1 was suppressed by siRNA, suggesting that miR-186 affected chondrocytes by targeting and depleting SPP1, a regulator of PI3K-AKT pathway. Our findings reveal a novel mechanism by which miR-186 inhibits chondrocyte apoptosis in OA by interacting with SPP1 and regulating PI3K-AKT pathway. Restoring miR-186 might be a future therapeutic strategy for OA.

Keywords: PI3K-AKT pathway; SPP1; apoptosis; chondrocyte; microRNA-186; osteoarthritis; proliferation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • Arthritis, Experimental / chemically induced
  • Arthritis, Experimental / enzymology*
  • Arthritis, Experimental / genetics
  • Arthritis, Experimental / pathology
  • Caspase 3 / metabolism
  • Caspase 9 / metabolism
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Chondrocytes / enzymology*
  • Chondrocytes / pathology
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Down-Regulation
  • Humans
  • Joints / enzymology*
  • Joints / pathology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • NIH 3T3 Cells
  • Osteoarthritis / chemically induced
  • Osteoarthritis / enzymology*
  • Osteoarthritis / genetics
  • Osteoarthritis / pathology
  • Osteopontin / genetics
  • Osteopontin / metabolism*
  • Papain
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinase / genetics
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinase / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism*
  • RNA Interference
  • Signal Transduction


  • MIRN186 microRNA, mouse
  • MicroRNAs
  • Spp1 protein, mouse
  • Osteopontin
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinase
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Casp3 protein, mouse
  • Casp9 protein, mouse
  • Caspase 3
  • Caspase 9
  • Papain