MiR-29a-3p Inhibits Proliferation and Osteogenic Differentiation of Human Bone Marrow Mesenchymal Stem Cells via Targeting FOXO3 and Repressing Wnt/ β-Catenin Signaling in Steroid-Associated Osteonecrosis

Int J Stem Cells. 2022 Aug 30;15(3):324-333. doi: 10.15283/ijsc21147. Epub 2022 Jun 30.


Background and objectives: This study was to investigate the role of microRNA-29a-3p (miR-29a-3p) in human bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (hBMSCs), and its relationship with steroid-associated osteonecrosis.

Methods and results: The online tool GEO2R was used to screen out the differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in GSE123568 dataset. Quantitative real time-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) was performed to detect the expression of miR-29a-3p, forkhead box O3 (FOXO3), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), bone gamma-carboxyglutamate protein (OCN) and RUNX family transcription factor 2 (Runx2) in the hBMSCs isolated from the patients with steroid- associated osteonecrosis. CCK-8 assay was executed to measure cell viability; western blot assay was utilized to detect FOXO3, ALP, Runx2, OCN and β-catenin expression. Cell apoptosis and cell cycle were detected by flow cytometry. Immunofluorescence assay was used to detect the sub-cellular localization of β-catenin. Bioinformatics analysis and luciferase reporter gene assay were performed to confirm whether miR-29a-3p can combine with FOXO3 3'UTR. MiR-29a-3p was markedly up-regulated in the hBMSCs of patients with steroid-associated osteonecrosis, while FOXO3 mRNA was significantly down-regulated. Transfection of miR-29a-3p mimics significantly inhibited the hBMSCs' proliferation, osteogenic differentiation markers' expressions, including ALP, Runx2, OCN, and repressed the ALP activity, as well as promoted cell apoptosis and cell-cycle arrest. FOXO3 was identified as a target gene of miR-29a-3p, and miR-29a-3p can inhibit the expression of FOXO3 and β-catenin, and inhibition of miR-29a-3p promoted translocation of β-catenin to the nucleus.

Conclusions: MiR-29a-3p can modulate FOXO3 expression and Wnt/β-catenin signaling to inhibit viability and osteogenic differentiation of hBMSCs, thereby promoting the development of steroid-associated osteonecrosis.

Keywords: FOXO3; Steroid-associated osteonecrosis; Wnt/β-catenin; miR-29a-3p.