Perivascular Fibro-Adipogenic Progenitor Tracing during Post-Traumatic Osteoarthritis

Am J Pathol. 2020 Sep;190(9):1909-1920. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2020.05.017. Epub 2020 Jun 10.


Perivascular mural cells surround capillaries and microvessels and have diverse regenerative or fibrotic functions after tissue injury. Subsynovial fibrosis is a well-known pathologic feature of osteoarthritis, yet transgenic animals for use in visualizing perivascular cell contribution to fibrosis during arthritic changes have not been developed. Here, inducible Pdgfra-CreERT2 reporter mice were subjected to joint-destabilization surgery to induce arthritic changes, and cell lineage was traced over an 8-week period with a focus on the joint-associated fat pad. Results showed that, at baseline, inducible Pdgfra reporter activity highlighted adventitial and, to a lesser extent, pericytic cells within the infrapatellar fat pad. Joint-destabilization surgery was associated with marked fibrosis of the infrapatellar fat pad, accompanied by an expansion of perivascular Pdgfra-expressing cellular descendants, many of which adopted α-smooth muscle actin expression. Gene expression analysis of microdissected infrapatellar fat pad confirmed enrichment in membrane-bound green fluorescent protein/Pdgfra-expressing cells, along with a gene signature that corresponded with injury-associated fibro-adipogenic progenitors. Our results highlight dynamic changes in joint-associated perivascular fibro-adipogenic progenitors during osteoarthritis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / pathology*
  • Adipose Tissue / pathology
  • Animals
  • Cell Lineage
  • Fibroblasts / pathology*
  • Knee Joint / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Osteoarthritis / pathology*
  • Stem Cells