Urocortin-1 Is Chondroprotective in Response to Acute Cartilage Injury via Modulation of Piezo1

Rebecca C. Jones, Kevin M. Lawrence, Scott M. Higgins, Stephen M. Richardson, Paul A. Townsend

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Post-traumatic OA (PTOA) is often triggered by injurious, high-impact loading events which result in rapid, excessive chondrocyte cell death and a phenotypic shift in residual cells toward a more catabolic state. As such, the identification of a disease-modifying OA drug (DMOAD) that can protect chondrocytes from death following impact injury, and thereby prevent cartilage degradation and progression to PTOA, would offer a novel intervention. We have previously shown that urocortin-1 (Ucn) is an essential endogenous pro-survival factor that protects chondrocytes from OA-associated pro-apoptotic stimuli. Here, using a drop tower PTOA-induction model, we demonstrate the extent of Ucn’s chondroprotective role in cartilage explants exposed to excessive impact load. Using pathway-specific agonists and antagonists, we show that Ucn acts to block load-induced intracellular calcium accumulation through blockade of the non-selective cation channel Piezo1 rather than TRPV4. This protective effect is mediated primarily through the Ucn receptor CRF-R1 rather than CRF-R2. Crucially, we demonstrate that the chondroprotective effect of Ucn is maintained whether it is applied pre-impact or post-impact, highlighting the potential of Ucn as a novel DMOAD for the prevention of injurious impact overload-induced PTOA
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5119
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number9
Early online date4 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2022

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Cancer Research Centre


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