STING promotes senescence, apoptosis, and extracellular matrix degradation in osteoarthritis via the NF-κB signaling pathway

Cell Death Dis. 2021 Jan 4;12(1):13. doi: 10.1038/s41419-020-03341-9.


Damaged deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a primary pathologic factor for osteoarthritis (OA); however, the mechanism by which DNA damage drives OA is unclear. Previous research demonstrated that the cyclic GMP-AMP synthase (cGAS)-stimulator of interferon genes (STING) participates in DNA damage response. As a result, the current study aimed at exploring the role STING, which is the major effector in the cGAS-STING signaling casacde, in OA progress in vitro, as well as in vivo. In this study, the expression of STING was evaluated in the human and mouse OA tissues, and in chondrocytes exposed to interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β). The influences of STING on the metabolism of the extracellular matrix (ECM), apoptosis, and senescence, were assessed in STING overexpressing and knocking-down chondrocytes. Moreover, the NF-κB-signaling casacde and its role in the regulatory effects of STING on ECM metabolism, apoptosis, and senescence were explored. The STING knockdown lentivirus was intra-articularly injected to evaluate its therapeutic impact on OA in mice in vivo. The results showed that the expression of STING was remarkably elevated in the human and mouse OA tissues and in chondrocytes exposed to IL-1β. Overexpression of STING promoted the expression of MMP13, as well as ADAMTS5, but suppressed the expression of Aggrecan, as well as Collagen II; it also enhanced apoptosis and senescence in chondrocytes exposed to and those untreated with IL-1β. The mechanistic study showed that STING activated NF-κB signaling cascade, whereas the blockage of NF-κB signaling attenuated STING-induced apoptosis and senescence, and ameliorated STING-induced ECM metabolism imbalance. In in vivo study, it was demonstrated that STING knockdown alleviated destabilization of the medial meniscus-induced OA development in mice. In conclusion, STING promotes OA by activating the NF-κB signaling cascade, whereas suppression of STING may provide a novel approach for OA therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cellular Senescence
  • Chondrocytes* / metabolism
  • Chondrocytes* / pathology
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis / metabolism*
  • Primary Cell Culture


  • Membrane Proteins
  • STING1 protein, human
  • Sting1 protein, mouse