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Posttraumatic activation of the catabolic cascade plays a major role in degradation of cartilage. Interleukin-1β (IL-1β), a primary instigator in the catabolic axis, is upregulated in chondrocytes following injury. IL-1β activates key degradative enzymes, including MMPs and aggrecanases, and other proinflammatory mediators such as PGE2 which contribute to ECM breakdown. Posttranscriptional silencing of IL-1β by RNA interference (RNAi) may drive a reduction in IL-1β. We hypothesized that transduction of chondrocytes using rAAV2 expressing a short hairpin RNAi motif targeting IL-1β (shIL-1β) would significantly decrease IL-1β expression and, in turn, decrease expression of other catabolic enzymes. Chondrocyte cultures were transduced with rAAV2-tdT-shIL-1β in serum-free media. The fluorescent protein, tdTomato, was used to determine transduction efficiency via flow cytometry and fluorescent microscopy. Cells were stimulated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) 48 hours following transduction. After 24-hour stimulation, supernatants were collected for cytokine analysis, and cells lysed for gene expression analysis. IL- 1β knockdown led to significantly decreased expression of IL-1β, TNF-α, and ADAMTS5. PGE2 synthesis was also significantly downregulated. Overall, effective silencing of IL-1β using rAAV2 vector expressing a short hairpin IL-1β knockdown sequence was shown. Additionally, significant downstream effects were evident, including decreased expression of TNF-α and ADAMTS5. Targeted silencing of catabolic cytokines may provide a promising treatment avenue for osteoarthritic (OA) joints.
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