Macrophage MSR1 promotes BMSC osteogenic differentiation and M2-like polarization by activating PI3K/AKT/GSK3β/β-catenin pathway

Theranostics. 2020 Jan 1;10(1):17-35. doi: 10.7150/thno.36930. eCollection 2020.


Approximately 10% of bone fractures do not heal satisfactorily, leading to significant clinical and socioeconomic implications. Recently, the role of macrophages in regulating bone marrow stem cell (BMSC) differentiation through the osteogenic pathway during fracture healing has attracted much attention. Methods: The tibial monocortical defect model was employed to determine the critical role of macrophage scavenger receptor 1 (MSR1) during intramembranous ossification (IO) in vivo. The potential functions and mechanisms of MSR1 were explored in a co-culture system of bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDMs), RAW264.7 cells, and BMSCs using qPCR, Western blotting, immunofluorescence, and RNA sequencing. Results: In this study, using the tibial monocortical defect model, we observed delayed IO in MSR1 knockout (KO) mice compared to MSR1 wild-type (WT) mice. Furthermore, macrophage MSR1 mediated PI3K/AKT/GSK3β/β-catenin signaling increased ability to promote osteogenic differentiation of BMSCs in the co-culture system. We also identified proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1-alpha (PGC1α) as the target gene for macrophage MSR1-activated PI3K/AKT/GSK3β/β-catenin pathway in the co-culture system that facilitated M2-like polarization by enhancing mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation. Conclusion: Our findings revealed a previously unrecognized function of MSR1 in macrophages during fracture repair. Targeting MSR1 might, therefore, be a new therapeutic strategy for fracture repair.

Keywords: Bone marrow stem cells; Macrophage scavenger receptor 1; Osteogenic differentiation; Oxidative phosphorylation; PI3K/AKT/GSK3β/β-catenin pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Macrophages / cytology
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Osteogenesis*
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • RAW 264.7 Cells
  • Scavenger Receptors, Class A / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • beta Catenin / metabolism


  • Msr1 protein, mouse
  • Scavenger Receptors, Class A
  • beta Catenin
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt