Downregulation of extracellular matrix protein 1 effectively ameliorates osteoarthritis progression in vivo

Int Immunopharmacol. 2024 Jan 5:126:111291. doi: 10.1016/j.intimp.2023.111291. Epub 2023 Dec 1.


Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common joint disease whose important pathological feature is degeneration of articular cartilage. Although extracellular matrix protein 1 (ECM1) serves as a central regulator of chondrocyte proliferation and hypertrophy, its role in OA remains largely unknown. This study aims to decipher the roles of ECM1 in OA development and therapy in animal models. In the present study, ECM1 expression was examined in clinical OA samples, experimental OA mice and OA cell models. Mice subjected to destabilised medial meniscus (DMM) surgery were intra-articularly injected with adeno-associated virus (AAV) expressing ECM1 (AAV-ECM1) or AAV containing shECM1 (AAV-shECM1). Histological analysis was performed to determine cartilage damage. mRNA sequencing was performed to explore the molecular mechanism. In addition, the downstream signaling was further confirmed by using specific inhibitors. Our data showed that ECM1 was upregulated in the cartilage of patients with OA, OA mice as well as OA cell models. Moreover, ECM1 over-expressing in knee joints by AAV-ECM1 accelerated OA progression, while knockdown of ECM1 by AAV-shECM1 alleviated OA development. Mechanistically, cartilage destruction increased ECM1 expression, which consequently exacerbated OA progression partly by decreasing PRG4 expression in the TGF-β/PKA/CREB-dependent manner. In conclusion, our study revealed the important role of ECM1 in OA progression. Targeted ECM1 inhibition is a potential strategy for OA therapy.

Keywords: Chondrocytes; Extracellular matrix protein 1; Osteoarthritis; PKA/CREB pathway; Proteoglycan 4.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cartilage, Articular* / pathology
  • Chondrocytes
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Down-Regulation
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / genetics
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy
  • Mice
  • Osteoarthritis* / drug therapy


  • ECM1 protein, human
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Ecm1 protein, mouse