Precise targeting of miR-141/200c cluster in chondrocytes attenuates osteoarthritis development

Ann Rheum Dis. 2021 Mar;80(3):356-366. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2020-218469. Epub 2020 Oct 27.


Objectives: Despite preclinical studies involving miRNA therapeutics conducted in osteoarthritis (OA) over the years, none of these miRNAs have yet translated to clinical applications, owing largely to the lack of efficient intra-articular (IA) delivery systems. Here, we investigated therapeutic efficacy of the chondrocyte-specific aptamer-decorated PEGylated polyamidoamine nanoparticles (NPs)-based miRNAs delivery for OA.

Methods: The role of miR-141/200c cluster during skeletal and OA development was examined by miR-141/200cflox/flox mice and Col2a1-CreERT2; miR-141/200cflox/flox mice. Histological analysis was performed in mouse joints and human cartilage specimens. Chondrocyte-specific aptamer-decorated NPs was designed, and its penetration, stability and safety were evaluated. OA progression was assessed by micro-CT analysis, X-ray and Osteoarthritis Research Society International scores after destabilising the medial meniscus surgery with miR-141/200c manipulation by NPs IA injection. Mass spectrometry analysis, molecular docking and molecular dynamics simulations were performed to investigate the interaction between aptamer and receptor.

Results: Increased retention of NPs inside joint space is observed. The NPs are freely and deeply penetrant to mice and human cartilage, and unexpectedly persist in chondrocytes for at least 5 weeks. OA chondrocytes microenviroment improves endo/lysosomal escape of microRNAs (miRNAs). Therapeutically, IA injection of miR-141/200c inhibitors provides strong chondroprotection, whereas ectopic expression of miR-141/200c exacerbates OA. Mechanistically, miR-141/200c promotes OA by targeting SIRT1, which acetylates histone in the promoters of interleukin 6 (IL-6), thereby activating IL-6/STAT3 pathway.

Conclusions: Our findings indicate that this nanocarrier can optimise the transport kinetics of miR-141/200c into chondrocytes, fostering miRNA-specific disease-modifying OA drugs development.

Keywords: chondrocytes; knee; osteoarthritis; pharmacokinetics; therapeutics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chondrocytes / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1beta / metabolism
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Mice
  • MicroRNAs* / genetics
  • MicroRNAs* / metabolism
  • Molecular Docking Simulation
  • Osteoarthritis* / pathology


  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Interleukin-6
  • MIRN141 microRNA, human
  • MicroRNAs