Hydroxytyrosol prevents chondrocyte death under oxidative stress by inducing autophagy through sirtuin 1-dependent and -independent mechanisms

Silvia Cetrullo, Stefania D'Adamo, Serena Guidotti, Rosa Maria Borzì, Flavio Flamigni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Hydroxytyrosol (HT), a major phenolic antioxidant found in olive oil, can afford protection from oxidative stress in several types of non-tumoral cells, including chondrocytes. Autophagy was recently identified as a protective process during osteoarthritis (OA) development and critical for survival of chondrocytes. Therefore we have investigated the possibility to modulate chondrocyte autophagy by HT treatment. Methods DNA damage and cell death were estimated in human C-28/I2 and primary OA chondrocytes exposed to hydrogen peroxide. Autophagic flux and mitophagy were monitored by measuring levels and location of autophagy markers through western blot, immunostaining and confocal laser microscopy. Late autophagic vacuoles were stained with monodansylcadaverine. The involvement of sirtuin 1 (SIRT-1) was evaluated by immunohistochemistry, western blot and gene silencing with specific siRNA. Results HT increases markers of autophagy and protects chondrocytes from DNA damage and cell death induced by oxidative stress. The protective effect requires the deacetylase SIRT-1, which accumulated in the nucleus following HT treatment. In fact silencing of this enzyme prevented HT from promoting the autophagic process and cell survival. Furthermore HT supports autophagy even in a SIRT-1-independent manner, by increasing p62 transcription, required for autophagic degradation of polyubiquitin-containing bodies. Conclusions These results support the potential of HT as a chondroprotective nutraceutical compound against OA, not merely for its antioxidant ability, but as an autophagy and SIRT-1 inducer as well. General significance HT may exert a cytoprotective action by promoting autophagy in cell types that may be damaged in degenerative diseases by oxidative and other stress stimuli.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1181-1191
Number of pages11
JournalBBA - General Subjects
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Autophagy
  • Chondrocyte
  • Hydroxytyrosol
  • OsteoarthritisOxidative stress
  • SIRT-1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics
  • Molecular Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Hydroxytyrosol prevents chondrocyte death under oxidative stress by inducing autophagy through sirtuin 1-dependent and -independent mechanisms'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this