Mechanical stress determines the configuration of TGFβ activation in articular cartilage

Gehua Zhen, Qiaoyue Guo, Yusheng Li, Chuanlong Wu, Shouan Zhu, Ruomei Wang, X. Edward Guo, Byoung Choul Kim, Jessie Huang, Yizhong Hu, Yang Dan, Mei Wan, Taekjip Ha, Steven An, Xu Cao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Our incomplete understanding of osteoarthritis (OA) pathogenesis has significantly hindered the development of disease-modifying therapy. The functional relationship between subchondral bone (SB) and articular cartilage (AC) is unclear. Here, we found that the changes of SB architecture altered the distribution of mechanical stress on AC. Importantly, the latter is well aligned with the pattern of transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) activity in AC, which is essential in the regulation of AC homeostasis. Specifically, TGFβ activity is concentrated in the areas of AC with high mechanical stress. A high level of TGFβ disrupts the cartilage homeostasis and impairs the metabolic activity of chondrocytes. Mechanical stress stimulates talin-centered cytoskeletal reorganization and the consequent increase of cell contractile forces and cell stiffness of chondrocytes, which triggers αV integrin–mediated TGFβ activation. Knockout of αV integrin in chondrocytes reversed the alteration of TGFβ activation and subsequent metabolic abnormalities in AC and attenuated cartilage degeneration in an OA mouse model. Thus, SB structure determines the patterns of mechanical stress and the configuration of TGFβ activation in AC, which subsequently regulates chondrocyte metabolism and AC homeostasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1706
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Mechanical stress determines the configuration of TGFβ activation in articular cartilage'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this