Following inflammatory stimuli, GSK3 inhibition functions as a hub with pleiotropic effects leading to cartilage degradation. However, little is known about the effects triggered by its direct inhibition as well as the effects on mitochondrial pathology, that contributes to osteoarthritis pathogenesis. To this aim we assessed the molecular mechanisms triggered by GSK3β inactivating stimuli on 3-D (micromass) cultures of human articular chondrocytes. Stimuli were delivered either at micromass seeding (long term) or after maturation (short term) to explore "late" effects on terminal differentiation or "early" mitochondrial effects, respectively. GSK3β inhibition significantly enhanced mitochondrial oxidative stress and damage and endochondral ossification based on increased nuclear translocation of Runx-2 and β-catenin, calcium deposition, cell death and enhanced remodelling of the extracellular matrix as demonstrated by the increased collagenolytic activity of supernatants, despite unmodified (MMP-1) or even reduced (MMP-13) collagenase gene/protein expression. Molecular dissection of the underlying mechanisms showed that GSK3β inhibition achieved with pharmacological/silencing strategies impacted on the control of collagenolytic activity, via both decreased inhibition (reduced TIMP-3) and increased activation (increased MMP-10 and MMP-14). To conclude, the inhibition of GSK3β enhances terminal differentiation via concerted effects on ECM and therefore its activity represents a tool to keep articular cartilage homeostasis.
Guidotti, S., Minguzzi, M., Platano, D., Santi, S., Trisolino, G., Filardo, G., Mariani, E., & Borzi', R. M. (2017). Glycogen Synthase Kinase-3β Inhibition Links Mitochondrial Dysfunction, Extracellular Matrix Remodelling and Terminal Differentiation in Chondrocytes. Scientific Reports, 7(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-12129-5