TNF-? promotes nuclear enrichment of the transcription factor TonEBP/NFAT5 to selectively control inflammatory but not osmoregulatory responses in nucleus pulposus cells.
ABSTRACT: Intervertebral disc degeneration (IDD) causes chronic back pain and is linked to production of proinflammatory molecules by nucleus pulposus (NP) and other disc cells. Activation of tonicity-responsive enhancer-binding protein (TonEBP)/NFAT5 by non-osmotic stimuli, including proinflammatory molecules, occurs in cells involved in immune response. However, whether inflammatory stimuli activate TonEBP in NP cells and whether TonEBP controls inflammation during IDD is unknown. We show that TNF-?, but not IL-1? or LPS, promoted nuclear enrichment of TonEBP protein. However, TNF-?-mediated activation of TonEBP did not cause induction of osmoregulatory genes. RNA sequencing showed that 8.5% of TNF-? transcriptional responses were TonEBP-dependent and identified genes regulated by both TNF-? and TonEBP. These genes were over-enriched in pathways and diseases related to inflammatory response and inhibition of matrix metalloproteases. Based on RNA-sequencing results, we further investigated regulation of novel TonEBP targets CXCL1, CXCL2, and CXCL3 TonEBP acted synergistically with TNF-? and LPS to induce CXCL1-proximal promoter activity. Interestingly, this regulation required a highly conserved NF-?B-binding site but not a predicted TonE, suggesting cross-talk between these two members of the Rel family. Finally, analysis of human NP tissue showed that TonEBP expression correlated with canonical osmoregulatory targets TauT/SLC6A6, SMIT/SLC5A3, and AR/AKR1B1, supporting in vitro findings that the inflammatory milieu during IDD does not interfere with TonEBP osmoregulation. In summary, whereas TonEBP participates in the proinflammatory response to TNF-?, therapeutic strategies targeting this transcription factor for treatment of disc disease must spare osmoprotective, prosurvival, and matrix homeostatic activities.
Project description:Transcription factor tonicity-responsive enhancer-binding protein (TonEBP/NFAT5) is critical for osmo-adaptation and extracellular matrix homeostasis of nucleus pulposus (NP) cells in their hypertonic tissue niche. Recent studies implicate TonEBP signaling in inflammatory disease and rheumatoid arthritis pathogenesis. However, broader functions of TonEBP in the disc remain unknown. RNA sequencing was performed on NP cells with TonEBP knockdown under hypertonic conditions. 1140 TonEBP-dependent genes were identified and categorized using Ingenuity Pathway Analysis. Bioinformatic analysis showed enrichment of matrix homeostasis and cytokine/chemokine signaling pathways. C-C motif chemokine ligand 2 (CCL2), interleukin 6 (IL6), tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and nitric oxide synthase 2 (NOS2) were studied further. Knockdown experiments showed that TonEBP was necessary to maintain expression levels of these genes. Gain- and loss-of-function experiments and site-directed mutagenesis demonstrated that TonEBP binding to a specific site in the CCL2 promoter is required for hypertonic inducibility. Despite inhibition by dominant-negative TonEBP, IL6 and NOS2 promoters were not hypertonicity-inducible. Whole-disc response to hypertonicity was studied in an ex vivo organ culture model, using wild-type and haploinsufficient TonEBP mice. Pro-inflammatory targets were induced by hypertonicity in discs from wild-type but not TonEBP-haploinsufficient mice. Mechanistically, NF-?B activity increased with hypertonicity and was necessary for hypertonic induction of target genes IL6, TNF, and NOS2 but not CCL2 Although TonEBP maintains transcription of genes traditionally considered pro-inflammatory, it is important to note that some of these genes also serve anabolic and pro-survival roles. Therefore, in NP cells, this phenomenon may reflect a physiological adaptation to diurnal osmotic loading of the intervertebral disc.
Project description:Senescence is a crucial driver of intervertebral disc degeneration (IDD). Disc cells are exposed to high oxygen tension due to neovascularization in degenerative discs. However, the effect of oxygen tension on disc cell senescence was unknown. Herein, rat nucleus pulposus (NP) cells were cultured under 20% O2 or 1% O2. Consequently, ROS induced by 20% O2 caused DNA damage and then activated p53-p21-Rb and p16-Rb pathways via ERK signaling to induce NP cell senescence. It also induced catabolic and proinflammatory phenotype of NP cells via MAPK and NF-?B pathways. Furthermore, 20% O2 was found to upregulate Nox4 in NP cells. Small interfering RNA against Nox4 reduced ROS production induced by 20% O2 and consequently suppressed premature senescence of NP cells. On the contrary, NP cells overexpressing Nox4 produced more ROS and rapidly developed senescent signs. In consistent with the in vitro studies, the expression of Nox4, p21, and Rb was upregulated in rat degenerative discs. This study, for the first time, demonstrates that Nox4 is an oxygen-sensing enzyme and a main ROS source in NP cells. Nox4-dependent ROS are genotoxic and a potent trigger of NP cell senescence. Nox4 is a potential therapeutic target for disc cell senescence and IDD.
Project description:Among a range of diverse clinical symptoms, intervertebral disc degeneration (IDD) contributes mostly to the onset of lower back pain. The present study aimed to investigate the effects of c-Jun on nucleus pulposus (NP) cells of IDD and its regulation on molecular mechanisms. Intervertebral disc (IVD) tissues were collected from patients suffering from IDD disease, and NP cells were subsequently isolated and cultured. By overexpressing c-Jun in NP cells, expression levels of mRNAs and proteins of IDD-related genes and inflammatory cytokines were subjected to reverse transcription-quantitative PCR, western blot and ELISA assays. Additional transforming growth factor-? (TGF-?) antibodies were administrated to suppress the function of TGF-?. Cell proliferation and apoptosis were determined via Cell Counting Kit-8 and TUNEL assays, respectively. The results demonstrated that the overexpression of c-Jun robustly upregulated both mRNA and protein expression of TGF-?, TIMP metallopeptidase inhibitor 3, aggrecan and collagen type II alpha 1 chain and simultaneously downregulated the expression of the inflammatory cytokines TNF-?, interleukin (IL)-1?, IL-6 and IL-17. Furthermore, following c-Jun overexpression, survival rates of NP cells were increased while apoptosis rates were decreased. However, the addition of a TGF-? antibody significantly promoted apoptosis and restricted cell survival, which differed from the results of the c-Jun overexpression group. The present study hypothesized therefore that c-Jun may positively regulate TGF-? expression within NP cells of IDD, which could promote the proliferation of IDD-NP cells and accelerate cell viability via reducing apoptosis and the inflammatory response.
Project description:Discogenic low back pain (LBP) is a main cause of disability and inflammation is presumed to be a major driver of symptomatic intervertebral disc degeneration (IDD). Anti-inflammatory agents are currently under investigation as they demonstrated to alleviate symptoms in patients having IDD. However, their underlying anti-inflammatory and regenerative activity is poorly explored. The present study sought to investigate the potential of Etanercept and Tofacitinib for maintaining disc homeostasis in a preclinical intervertebral disc (IVD) organ culture model within IVD bioreactors allowing for dynamic loading and nutrient exchange. Bovine caudal IVDs were cultured in a bioreactor system for 4 days to simulate physiological or degenerative conditions: (1) Phy-physiological loading (0.02-0.2 MPa; 0.2 Hz; 2 h/day) and high glucose DMEM medium (4.5 g/L); (2) Deg+Tumor necrosis factor ? (TNF-?)-degenerative loading (0.32-0.5 MPa; 5 Hz; 2 h/day) and low glucose DMEM medium (2 g/L), with TNF-? injection. Etanercept was injected intradiscally while Tofacitinib was supplemented into the culture medium. Gene expression in the IVD tissue was measured by RT-qPCR. Release of nitric oxide (NO), interleukin 8 (IL-8) and glycosaminoglycan (GAG) into the IVD conditioned medium were analyzed. Cell viability in the IVD was assessed using lactate dehydrogenase and ethidium homodimer-1 staining. Immunohistochemistry was performed to assess protein expression of IL-1?, IL-6, IL-8, and collagen type II in the IVD tissue. Etanercept and Tofacitinib downregulated the expression of IL-1?, IL-6, IL-8, Matrix metalloproteinase 1 (MMP1), and MMP3 in the nucleus pulposus (NP) tissue and IL-1?, MMP3, Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2), and Nerve growth factor (NGF) in the annulus fibrosus (AF) tissue. Furthermore, Etanercept significantly reduced the IL-1? positively stained cells in the outer AF and NP regions. Tofacitinib significantly reduced IL-1? and IL-8 positively stained cells in the inner AF region. Both, Etanercept and Tofacitinib reduced the GAG loss to the level under physiological culture condition. Etanercept and Tofacitinib are able to neutralize the proinflammatory and catabolic environment in the IDD organ culture model. However, combined anti-inflammatory and anabolic treatment may be required to constrain accelerated IDD and relieving inflammation-induced back pain.
Project description:Nucleus pulposus (NP) cells reside in a physiologically hyperosmotic environment within the intervertebral disc. TonEBP/NFAT5 is an osmo-sensitive transcription factor that controls expression of genes critical for cell survival under hyperosmotic conditions. A recent report on NP and studies of other cell types have shown that hyperosmolarity triggers autophagy. However, little is known whether such autophagy induction occurs through TonEBP. The goal of this study was to investigate the role of TonEBP in hyperosmolarity-dependent autophagy in NP. Loss-of-function studies showed that autophagy in NP cells was not TonEBP-dependent; hyperosmolarity did not upregulate autophagy as previously reported. NP tissue of haploinsufficient TonEBP mice showed normal pattern of LC3 staining. NP cells did not increase LC3-II or LC3-positive puncta under hyperosmotic conditions. Bafilomycin-A1 treatment and tandem mCherry-EGFP-LC3B reporter transfection demonstrated that the autophagic flux was unaffected by hyperosmolarity. Even under serum-free conditions, NP cells did not induce autophagy with increasing osmolarity. Hyperosmolarity did not change the phosphorylation of ULK1 by mTOR and AMPK. An ex vivo disc organ culture study supported that extracellular hyperosmolarity plays no role in promoting autophagy in the NP. We conclude that hyperosmolarity does not play a role in autophagy induction in NP cells.
Project description:Intervertebral disc degeneration (IDD) is an important cause of lower back pain, although the underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. The present study aimed to examine the role of a circular RNA derived from tissue inhibitor of metallopeptidases 2 (circ?TIMP2) in degenerative nucleus pulposus (NP) tissues, and to validate its function in cultured human NP cells. Overexpression of miR?185?5p in NP cells markedly inhibited the enhanced extracellular matrix (ECM) catabolism induced by tumor necrosis factor?? (TNF??) and interleukin?1? (IL?1?) treatment. Bioinformatics analysis demonstrated that matrix metalloproteinase 2 (MMP2) was a potential target of miR?185?5p. MMP2 protein expression levels were increased following treatment with TNF?? and IL?1? in NP cells compared with those in untreated cells, and this effect was attenuated by transfection with miR?185?5p. Compared with normal NP tissues, IDD samples exhibited higher circ?TIMP2 expression levels. In addition, overexpression of circ?TIMP2 promoted ECM catabolism and suppressed ECM anabolism. Furthermore, circ?TIMP2 sequestered miR?185?5p, which may potentially upregulate the target genes associated with ECM degradation. In conclusion, the results of the present study revealed that circ?TIMP2 promoted TNF??? and IL?1??induced NP cell imbalance between ECM anabolism and catabolism via miR?185?5p?MMP2 signaling. These findings provide a potential therapeutic option for the treatment of IDD.
Project description:This study examines the effect of TNF? on whole bovine intervertebral discs in organ culture and its association with changes characteristic of intervertebral disc degeneration (IDD) in order to inform future treatments to mitigate the chronic inflammatory state commonly found with painful IDD. Pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF? contribute to disc pathology and are implicated in the catabolic phenotype associated with painful IDD. Whole bovine discs were cultured to examine cellular (anabolic/catabolic gene expression, cell viability and senescence using ?-galactosidase) and structural (histology and aggrecan degradation) changes in response to TNF? treatment. Control or TNF? cultures were assessed at 7 and 21 days; the 21 day group also included a recovery group with 7 days TNF? followed by 14 days in basal media. TNF? induced catabolic and anti-anabolic shifts in the nucleus pulposus (NP) and annulus fibrosus (AF) at 7 days and this persisted until 21 days however cell viability was not affected. Data indicates that TNF? increased aggrecan degradation products and suggests increased ?-galactosidase staining at 21 days without any recovery. TNF? treatment of whole bovine discs for 7 days induced changes similar to the degeneration processes that occur in human IDD: aggrecan degradation, increased catabolism, pro-inflammatory cytokines and nerve growth factor expression. TNF? significantly reduced anabolism in cultured IVDs and a possible mechanism may be associated with cell senescence. Results therefore suggest that successful treatments must promote anabolism and cell proliferation in addition to limiting inflammation.
Project description:Intervertebral disc degeneration (IDD) is characterized by excessive apoptosis of nucleus pulposus (NP) cells and hyperactive extracellular matrix (ECM) catabolism. Our previous studies revealed the relationship between human islet amyloid polypeptide (hIAPP) and NP cell apoptosis. However, the role of hIAPP aggregates in IDD has not yet been investigated. This study aimed to determine whether the accumulation of hIAPP aggregates promotes IDD progression. The aggregation of hIAPP increased in human NP tissues during IDD. The deposition of hIAPP aggravated the compression-induced IDD that promoted NP cell apoptosis and ECM degradation via IL-1?/IL-1Ra signaling in an ex vivo rat disc model. Moreover, neutralizing IL-1? augmented the protective effects of hIAPP overexpression by decreasing hIAPP aggregation in human NP cells. These results suggest that the aggregation of hIAPP promotes NP cell apoptosis and ECM degradation ex vivo and in vitro by disrupting the balance of IL-1?/IL-1Ra signaling.
Project description:Background/objective:Intervertebral disc degeneration (IDD) remains to be an intractable clinical challenge. Although IDD is characterised by loss of notochordal cells (NCs) and dysfunction of nucleus pulposus (NP) cells, little is known about the origin, heterogeneity, fate and maintenance of NCs and NP cells, which further stunts the therapeutic development. Thus, effective tools to spatially and temporally trace specific cell lineage and clarify cell functions in intervertebral disc (IVD) development and homoeostasis are urgently required. Methods:In this study, NP specimens were obtained from 20 patients with degenerative disc disease or scoliosis. LepR-Cre mice was crossed with R26R-Tdtomato mice to generate LepR-Cre; R26R-Tdtomato mice, which enabled fate-mapping of NPs from embryo stage to late adult. LMNA G609G/G609G mice was used to determine the effect of premature-aging induced IDD on LepR NPs. X-ray imaging was used to measure lumber disc height of mice. Results:Here, we provide the first evidence that the leptin receptor (LepR) is preferentially expressed in NCs at embryonic stages and notochord-derived cells in the postnatal IVD. By using R26R-Tdtomato fluorescent reporter mice, we systematically analysed the specificity of activity and targeting efficiency of leptin receptor-Cre (LepR-Cre) in IVD tissues from the embryonic stage E15.5 to 6-month-old LepR-Cre; Rosa26-Tdtomato (R26R-Tdtomato) mice. Specifically, LepR-Cre targets a distinct subpopulation of notochord-derived cells closely associated with disc homoeostasis. The percentage of LepR-expressing NP cells markedly decreases in the postnatal mouse IVD and, more importantly, in the human IVD with the progression of IDD. Moreover, both spine instability-induced and premature ageing-induced IDD mouse models display the phenotype of IDD with decreased percentage of LepR-expressing NP cells. These findings uncover a potential role of LepR-expressing notochord-derived cells in disc homoeostasis and open the gate for therapeutically targeting the NP cell subpopulation. Conclusion:In conclusion, our data prove LepR-Cre mice useful for mapping the fate of specific subpopulations of IVD cells and uncovering the underlying mechanisms of IDD. The translational potential of this article:The translation potential of article is that we first identified LepR as a candidate marker of subpopulation of nucleus pulposus (NP) cells and provided LepR as a potential target for the treatment of intervertebral disc degeneration (IDD), which have certain profound significance.
Project description:Degeneration of the nucleus pulposus (NP) might serve as a trigger for intervertebral disc degeneration (IDD). A recent drug screening study revealed that the thienoindazole derivative, TD-198946, is a novel drug for the treatment of osteoarthritis. Because of the environmental and functional similarities between articular cartilage and intervertebral disc, TD-198946 is expected to prevent IDD. Herein, we sought to evaluate the effects of TD-198946 on IDD. TD-198946 enhanced glycosaminoglycan (GAG) production and the related genes in mouse NP cells and human NP cells (hNPCs). Further, Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes pathway analysis using the mRNA sequence of hNPCs suggested that the mechanism of action of TD-198946 primarily occurred via the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt signaling pathway. The Akt inhibitor suppressed the enhancement of GAG production induced by TD-198946. The effects of TD-198946 on IDD at two different time points (immediate treatment model, immediately after the puncture; latent treatment model, 2 weeks after the puncture) were investigated using a mouse tail-disc puncture model. At both time points, TD-198946 prevented a loss in disc height. Histological analysis also demonstrated the preservation of the NP structures. TD-198946 exhibited therapeutic effects on IDD by enhancing GAG production via PI3K/Akt signaling.