Benefits of recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV)-mediated insulinlike growth factor I (IGF-I) overexpression for the long-term reconstruction of human osteoarthritic cartilage by modulation of the IGF-I axis

Anja Weimer, Henning Madry, Jagadeesh K. Venkatesan, Gertrud Schmitt, Janina Frisch, Anna Wezel, Jochen Jung, Dieter Kohn, Ernest F. Terwilliger, Stephen B. Trippel, Magali Cucchiarini

39 Scopus citations


Administration of therapeutic genes to human osteoarthritic (OA) cartilage is a potential approach to generate effective, durable treatments against this slow, progressive disorder. Here, we tested the ability of recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV)-mediated overexpression of human insulinlike growth factor (hIGF)-I to reproduce an original surface in human OA cartilage in light of the pleiotropic activities of the factor. We examined the proliferative, survival and anabolic effects of the rAAV-hIGF-I treatment in primary human normal and OA chondrocytes in vitroand in explant cultures in situcompared with control (reporter) vector delivery. Efficient, prolonged IGF-I secretion via rAAV stimulated the biological activities of OA chondrocytes in all the systems evaluated over extended periods of time, especially in situ, where it allowed for the long-term reconstruction of OA cartilage (at least for 90 d). Remarkably, production of high, stable amounts of IGF-I in OA cartilage using rAAV advantageously modulated the expression of central effectors of the IGF-I axis by downregulating IGF-I inhibitors (IGF binding protein [IGFBP]-3 and IGFBP4) while up-regulating key potentiators (IGFBP5, the IGF-I receptor and downstream mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 [MAPK/ERK-1/2] and phosphatidylinisitol-3/Akt [PI3K/Akt] signal transduction pathways), probably explaining the enhanced responsiveness of OA cartilage to IGF-I treatment. These findings show the benefits of directly providing an IGF-I sequence to articular cartilage via rAAV for the future treatment of human osteoarthritis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)346-358
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2012


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)

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