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Characterization of microRNA expression profiles in normal and osteoarthritic human chondrocytes

Silvia Díaz-Prado12, Claudia Cicione23, Emma Muiños-López23, Tamara Hermida-Gómez23, Natividad Oreiro3, Carlos Fernández-López3 and Francisco J Blanco1245*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medicine, INIBIC-University of A Coruña, A Coruña, Spain

2 CIBER-BBN-Cellular Therapy Area, INIBIC-Hospital Universitario A Coruña, A Coruña, Spain

3 Rheumatology Division, INIBIC-Hospital Universitario A Coruña, A Coruña, Spain

4 Tissue Bank, INIBIC-Hospital Universitario A Coruña, A Coruña, Spain

5 Osteoarticular and Aging Research Laboratory. Biomedical Research Center, Instituto de Investigación Biomédica de A Coruña (INIBIC), Hospital Materno Infantil Teresa Herrera, C/As Xubias S/N. 15.006, A Coruña, Spain

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2012, 13:144  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-13-144

Published: 12 August 2012



Osteoarthritis (OA) is a multifactorial disease characterized by destruction of the articular cartilage due to environmental, mechanical and genetic components. The genetics of OA is complex and is not completely understood. Recent works have demonstrated the importance of microRNAs (miRNAs) in cartilage function. MiRNAs are a class of small noncoding RNAs that regulate gene expression and are involved in different cellular process: apoptosis, proliferation, development, glucose and lipid metabolism. The aim of this study was to identify and characterize the expression profile of miRNAs in normal and OA chondrocytes and to determine their role in the OA.


Chondrocytes were moved to aggregate culture and evaluated using histological and qPCR techniques. miRNAs were isolated and analyzed using the Agilent Human miRNA Microarray.


Of the 723 miRNAs analyzed, 7 miRNAs showed a statistically significant differential expression. Amongst these 7 human miRNAs, 1 was up-regulated in OA chondrocytes (hsa-miR-483-5p) and 6 were up-regulated in normal chondrocytes (hsa-miR-149*, hsa-miR-582-3p, hsa-miR-1227, hsa-miR-634, hsa-miR-576-5p and hsa-miR-641). These profiling results were validated by the detection of some selected miRNAs by qPCR. In silico analyses predicted that key molecular pathways potentially altered by the miRNAs differentially expressed in normal and OA chondrocytes include TGF-beta, Wnt, Erb and mTOR signalling; all of them implicated in the development, maintenance and destruction of articular cartilage.


We have identified 7 miRNAs differentially expressed in OA and normal chondrocytes. Our potential miRNA target predictions and the signalling cascades altered by the differentially expressed miRNAs supports the potential involvement of the detected miRNAs in OA pathology. Due to the importance of miRNA in mediating the translation of target mRNA into protein, the identification of these miRNAs differentially expressed in normal and OA chondrocyte micropellets could have important diagnostic and therapeutic potential. Further studies are needed to know the function of these miRNAs, including the search of their target mRNA genes, which could lead to the development of novel therapeutic strategies for the OA treatment.

microRNA; Microarray; Chondrocyte; Osteoarthritis; Human