The occurrence and development of an endemic osteoarthritis Kashin-Beck Disease (KBD) is closely related to oxidative stress induced by free radicals. The aim of the study was to find the key signalling molecules or pathogenic factors as a potential treatment strategy for KBD.Real-time PCR and western blotting were performed to detect the mRNA and protein expression levels in cells and tissues. Immunohistochemical staining was assayed in rat models and human samples obtained from children. The type of cell death was identified by Annexin V and PI staining on a flow cytometry.Oxidative stress decreased levels of Smad2 and Smad3 in hypertrophic chondrocytes both in vitro and in vivo. In the cartilage of KBD patients, the expression of Smad2 and Smad3 proteins in the middle and deep zone were significantly decreased with an observed full deletion in the deep zone of some samples. Reduction of Smad2 protein induced necrotic death of hypertrophic chondrocytes, while reduction of Smad3 protein induced apoptosis. The reduction of Smad2 protein was not accompanied by Smad3 protein reduction in hypertrophic chondrocyte necrosis. Furthermore, the reduction of Smad2 also impaired the construction of tissue-engineered cartilage in vitro.These studies reveal that oxidative stress causes necrosis of hypertrophic chondrocytes by downregulating Smad2 protein, which enriches the pathogenesis of KBD cartilage. The importance of Smad2 in the development of KBD provides a new potential target for the treatment of KBD.
Ying He, Lihong Fan, Nicole Aaron, Yiping Feng, Qian Fang, Ying Zhang, Dan Zhang, Hui Wang, Tianyou Ma, Jian Sun, Jinghong Chen