Bone marrow mesenchymal stem cell-derived exosomal miR-206 promotes osteoblast proliferation and differentiation in osteoarthritis by reducing Elf3

J Cell Mol Med. 2021 Jun 23. doi: 10.1111/jcmm.16654. Online ahead of print.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) serve as gene silencers involved in essential cell functions. The role of miR-206 and E74-like factor 3 (Elf3) has been identified in osteoarthritis (OA), while the effect of exosomal miR-206 from bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) in OA remains largely unknown. Thus, we aim to explore the role of exosomal miR-206 from BMSCs in OA with the involvement of Elf3. BMSCs and BMSC-derived exosomes (BMSC-exos) were obtained and identified. OA mouse models were constructed by anterior cruciate ligament transection and then treated with BMSC-exos or BMSC-exos containing miR-206 mimic/inhibitor. The expression of miR-206, Elf3, inflammatory factors, osteocalcin (OCN) and bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP2) in mouse femoral tissues was assessed. The pathological changes in mouse femur tissues were observed. The mouse osteoblasts were identified and treated with untransfected or transfected BMSC-exos, and then, the expression of miR-206, Elf3, OCN and BMP2 was determined. The alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity, calcium deposition level, OCN secretion, proliferation, apoptosis and cell cycle arrest in osteoblasts were measured. MiR-206 was down-regulated while Elf3 was up-regulated in OA animal and cellular models. Exosomal miR-206 ameliorated inflammation and increased expression of OCN and BMP2 in mouse femoral tissues. Moreover, exosomal miR-206 promoted ALP activity, calcium deposition level, OCN secretion and proliferation and inhibited apoptosis in OA osteoblasts. Overexpressed Elf3 reversed miR-206 up-regulation-induced effects on OA osteoblasts. BMSC-derived exosomal miR-206 promotes proliferation and differentiation of osteoblasts in OA by reducing Elf3. Our research may provide novel targets for OA treatment.

Keywords: E74-like factor 3; exosome; microRNA-206; osteoarthritis; osteoblasts; proliferation and differentiation.