Impaired Metabolic Flexibility in the Osteoarthritis Process: A Study on Transmitochondrial Cybrids

Cells. 2020 Mar 27;9(4):809. doi: 10.3390/cells9040809.


Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most frequent joint disease; however, the etiopathogenesis is still unclear. Chondrocytes rely primarily on glycolysis to meet cellular energy demand, but studies implicate impaired mitochondrial function in OA pathogenesis. The relationship between mitochondrial dysfunction and OA has been established. The aim of the study was to examine the differences in glucose and Fatty Acids (FA) metabolism, especially with regards to metabolic flexibility, in cybrids from healthy (N) or OA donors. Glucose and FA metabolism were studied using D-[14C(U)]glucose and [1-14C]oleic acid, respectively. There were no differences in glucose metabolism among the cybrids. Osteoarthritis cybrids had lower acid-soluble metabolites, reflecting incomplete FA β-oxidation but higher incorporation of oleic acid into triacylglycerol. Co-incubation with glucose and oleic acid showed that N but not OA cybrids increased their glucose metabolism. When treating with the mitochondrial inhibitor etomoxir, N cybrids still maintained higher glucose oxidation. Furthermore, OA cybrids had higher oxidative stress response. Combined, this indicated that N cybrids had higher metabolic flexibility than OA cybrids. Healthy donors maintained the glycolytic phenotype, whereas OA donors showed a preference towards oleic acid metabolism. Interestingly, the results indicated that cybrids from OA patients had mitochondrial impairments and reduced metabolic flexibility compared to N cybrids.

Keywords: energy metabolism; metabolic flexibility; osteoarthritis; transmitochondrial cybrids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Haplotypes / genetics
  • Humans
  • Lipid Droplets / metabolism
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Osteoarthritis / metabolism*
  • Osteoarthritis / pathology*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Superoxides / metabolism


  • Fatty Acids
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Superoxides
  • Glucose