Osteoarthritis (OA) is characterized by progressive, irreversible erosion of articular cartilage accompanied by severe pain and immobility. This study aimed to assess the effect and mechanism of action of HU308, a selective cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2) agonist, in preventing OA-related joint damage. To test the assumption that HU308 could prevent OA-related joint damage, Cnr2 null mice and wild type (WT) mice were aged to reach 20 months and analyzed for joint structural features. OA was induced in WT mice via a post-traumatic procedure or aging, followed by HU308 local (intra-articular) or systemic (intraperitoneal) administration, respectively. Additional analyses of time and dose courses for HU308 were carried out in human primary chondrocytes, analyzed by RNA sequencing, RT-PCR, chromatin immunoprecipitation, and immunoblotting. Our results showed that Cnr2 null mice exhibited enhanced age-related OA severity and synovitis compared to age-matched WT mice. Systemic administration of HU308 to 16-month-old mice improved pain sensitivity and maintained joint integrity, which was consistent with the intra-articular administration of HU308 in post-traumatic OA mice. When assessing human chondrocytes treated with HU308, we uncovered a dose- and time-related increase in ACAN and COL2A1 expression, which was preceded by increased SOX9 expression due to pCREB transcriptional activity. Finally, transcriptomic analysis of patient-derived human chondrocytes identified patient subpopulations exhibiting HU308-responsive trends as judged by enhanced SOX9 expression, accompanied by enriched gene networks related to carbohydrate metabolism. Collectively, the results showed that HU308 reduced trauma and age-induced OA via CB2-pCREB dependent activation of SOX9, contributing to augmented gene networks related to carbohydrate metabolism.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine