CircRNAs in osteoarthritis: research status and prospect

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common joint disease globally, and its progression is irreversible. The mechanism of osteoarthritis is not fully understood. Research on the molecular biological mechanism of OA is deepening, among which epigenetics, especially noncoding RNA, is an emerging hotspot. CircRNA is a unique circular noncoding RNA not degraded by RNase R, so it is a possible clinical target and biomarker. Many studies have found that circRNAs play an essential role in the progression of OA, including extracellular matrix metabolism, autophagy, apoptosis, the proliferation of chondrocytes, inflammation, oxidative stress, cartilage development, and chondrogenic differentiation. Differential expression of circRNAs was also observed in the synovium and subchondral bone in the OA joint. In terms of mechanism, existing studies have mainly found that circRNA adsorbs miRNA through the ceRNA mechanism, and a few studies have found that circRNA can serve as a scaffold for protein reactions. In terms of clinical transformation, circRNAs are considered promising biomarkers, but no large cohort has tested their diagnostic value. Meanwhile, some studies have used circRNAs loaded in extracellular vesicles for OA precision medicine. However, there are still many problems to be solved in the research, such as the role of circRNA in different OA stages or OA subtypes, the construction of animal models of circRNA knockout, and more research on the mechanism of circRNA. In general, circRNAs have a regulatory role in OA and have particular clinical potential, but further studies are needed in the future.


cartilage; circRNA; molecular mechanism; osteoarthritis; synovium.

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