Single-Cell Profiles of Age-Related Osteoarthritis Uncover Underlying Heterogeneity Associated With Disease Progression

Front Mol Biosci. 2022 Jan 10;8:748360. doi: 10.3389/fmolb.2021.748360. eCollection 2021.


Objective: Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common chronic degenerative joint disease, which represents the leading cause of age-related disability. Here, this study aimed to depict the intercellular heterogeneity of OA synovial tissues. Methods: Single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) data were preprocessed and quality controlled by the Seurat package. Cell cluster was presented and cell types were annotated based on the mRNA expression of corresponding marker genes by the SingleR package. Cell-cell communication was assessed among different cell types. After integrating the GSE55235 and GSE55457 datasets, differentially expressed genes were identified between OA and normal synovial tissues. Then, differentially expressed marker genes were overlapped and their biological functions were analyzed. Results: Totally, five immune cell subpopulations were annotated in OA synovial tissues including macrophages, dendritic cells, T cells, monocytes and B cells. Pseudo-time analysis revealed the underlying evolution process in the inflammatory microenvironment of OA synovial tissue. There was close crosstalk between five cell types according to the ligand-receptor network. The genetic heterogeneity was investigated between OA and normal synovial tissues. Furthermore, functional annotation analysis showed the intercellular heterogeneity across immune cells in OA synovial tissues. Conclusion: This study offered insights into the heterogeneity of OA, which provided in-depth understanding of the transcriptomic diversities within synovial tissue. This transcriptional heterogeneity may improve our understanding on OA pathogenesis and provide potential molecular therapeutic targets for OA.

Keywords: TNF pathway; cytokine receptor; inflammatory cytokine; macrophages; osteoarthritis; synovial.