Stromal Cell-Derived Factor 1α Inhibits Chondrocyte Apoptosis and Promotes Autophagy Through the Akt Signaling Pathway

LI Jiazhou, XIE Jing, ZHOU Xuedong


To investigate the effects of stromal cell-derived factor 1α (SDF-1α) on the apoptosis and autophagy of chondrocytes and the underlying mechanisms.Methods Chondrocytes were isolated from the knee joints of neonatal mice. The chondrocytes were then stimulated with 0 (the control group), 50, 100, and 200 ng/mL of SDF-1α. CCK-8 assay was performed to determine the effects of SDF-1α stimulation for 24 h, 48 h, and 72 h on the viability of the chondrocytes. Wound healing assay was conducted to determine the effects of SDF-1α stimulation for 12 h and 24 h on chondrocyte migration. The changes in the expression of Akt signaling pathway proteins in chondrocytes were determined by Western blot assay. Chondrocytes were stimulated with 0 (the control group) and 200 ng/mL of SDF-1α. Flow cytometry was performed to determine the effect of SDF-1α on the apoptosis of chondrocytes. Transmission electron microscope was used to examine the effect of SDF-1α on chondrocyte autophagy. Immunofluorescence staining assays were performed to visualize the differences in p-Akt expression and distribution in chondrocytes treated with SDF-1α.Results Compared with the control group, findings for the experimental groups showed that SDF-1α at the concentrations of 50, 100, and 200 ng/mL did not decrease chondrocyte activity at any time point (P<0.01) and it consistently promoted chondrocyte migration at 24 h (P<0.05). Western blot results revealed that, in comparison to the control group, SDF-1α at concentrations of 50, 100, and 200 ng/mL significantly up-regulated the protein expression of p-Akt in chondrocytes, while no significant difference in Akt expression was observed. Flow cytometry demonstrated that SDF-1α could inhibit chondrocyte apoptosis (P<0.05) and transmission electron microscopic observation showed that SDF-1α promoted chondrocyte autophagy (P<0.05). Immunofluorescence staining showed that the expression of p-Akt in chondrocytes was concentrated in the perinuclear area of the cells and this expression was further enhanced in the perinuclear area of the chondrocytes after treatment with SDF-1α.Conclusion SDF-1α inhibits chondrocyte apoptosis and promotes chondrocyte migration and autophagy through activating the Akt signaling pathway.

Keywords: Stromal cell-derived factor 1α,  Chondrocyte,  Apoptosis,  Akt,  Autophagy   

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