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Papers of the Week

Papers: 28 Oct 2023 - 3 Nov 2023

2023 Nov 02

Bone Res




Editor's Pick

Combining single-cell RNA sequencing and population-based studies reveals hand osteoarthritis-associated chondrocyte subpopulations and pathways.


Li H, Jiang X, Xiao Y, Zhang Y, Zhang W, Doherty M, Nestor J, Li C, Ye J, Sha T, Lyu H, Wei J, Zeng C, Lei G


Hand osteoarthritis is a common heterogeneous joint disorder with unclear molecular mechanisms and no disease-modifying drugs. In this study, we performed single-cell RNA sequencing analysis to compare the cellular composition and subpopulation-specific gene expression between cartilage with macroscopically confirmed osteoarthritis (n = 5) and cartilage without osteoarthritis (n = 5) from the interphalangeal joints of five donors. Of 105 142 cells, we identified 13 subpopulations, including a novel subpopulation with inflammation-modulating potential annotated as inflammatory chondrocytes. Fibrocartilage chondrocytes exhibited extensive alteration of gene expression patterns in osteoarthritic cartilage compared with nonosteoarthritic cartilage. Both inflammatory chondrocytes and fibrocartilage chondrocytes showed a trend toward increased numbers in osteoarthritic cartilage. In these two subpopulations from osteoarthritic cartilage, the ferroptosis pathway was enriched, and expression of iron overload-related genes, e.g., FTH1, was elevated. To verify these findings, we conducted a Mendelian randomization study using UK Biobank and a population-based cross-sectional study using data collected from Xiangya Osteoarthritis Study. Genetic predisposition toward higher expression of FTH1 mRNA significantly increased the risk of hand osteoarthritis (odds ratio = 1.07, 95% confidence interval: 1.02-1.11) among participants (n = 332 668) in UK Biobank. High levels of serum ferritin (encoded by FTH1), a biomarker of body iron overload, were significantly associated with a high prevalence of hand osteoarthritis among participants (n = 1 241) of Xiangya Osteoarthritis Study (P-for-trend = 0.037). In conclusion, our findings indicate that inflammatory and fibrocartilage chondrocytes are key subpopulations and that ferroptosis may be a key pathway in hand osteoarthritis, providing new insights into the pathophysiology and potential therapeutic targets of hand osteoarthritis.