CITED2 mediates the cross-talk between mechanical loading and IL-4 to promote chondroprotection

Zhiyong He, Daniel J. Leong, Lin Xu, John A. Hardin, Robert J. Majeska, Mitchell B. Schaffler, Mia M. Thi, Liu Yang, Mary B. Goldring, Neil J. Cobelli, Hui B. Sun

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19 Scopus citations


Osteoarthritis (OA) pathogenesis is mediated largely through the actions of proteolytic enzymes such as matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) 13. The transcriptional regulator CITED2, which suppresses the expression of MMP13 in chondrocytes, is induced by interleukin (IL)-4 in T cells and macrophages, and by moderate mechanical loading in chondrocytes. We tested the hypothesis that CITED2 mediates cross-talk between IL-4 signaling and mechanical loading-induced pathways that result in chondroprotection, at least in part, by downregulating MMP13. IL-4 induced CITED2 gene expression in human chondrocytes in a dose- and time-dependent manner through JAK/STAT signaling. Mechanical loading combined with IL-4 resulted in additive effects on inducing CITED2 expression and downregulating of MMP13 in human chondrocytes in vitro. In vivo, IL-4 gene knockout (KO) mice exhibited reduced basal levels of CITED2 expression in chondrocytes. While moderate treadmill running induced CITED2 expression and reduced MMP13 expression in wild-type mice, these effects were blunted (for CITED2) or abolished (for MMP13) in chondrocytes of IL-4 gene KO mice. Moreover, intra-articular injections of mouse recombinant IL-4 combined with regular cage activity mitigated post-traumatic OA to a greater degree compared to immobilized mice treated with IL-4 alone. These data suggest that using moderate loading to enhance IL-4 may be a potential therapeutic strategy for chondroprotection in OA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-137
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • CITED2
  • IL-4
  • MMP13
  • cartilage degradation
  • inflammation
  • osteoarthritis


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