Agrin induces long-term osteochondral regeneration by supporting repair morphogenesis.
Cartilage loss leads to osteoarthritis, the most common cause of disability for which there is no cure. Cartilage regeneration, therefore, is a priority in medicine. We report that agrin is a potent chondrogenic factor and that a single intraarticular administration of agrin induced long-lasting regeneration of critical-size osteochondral defects in mice, with restoration of tissue architecture and bone-cartilage interface. Agrin attracted joint resident progenitor cells to the site of injury and, through simultaneous activation of CREB and suppression of canonical WNT signaling downstream of β-catenin, induced expression of the chondrogenic stem cell marker GDF5 and differentiation into stable articular chondrocytes, forming stable articular cartilage. In sheep, an agrin-containing collagen gel resulted in long-lasting regeneration of bone and cartilage, which promoted increased ambulatory activity. Our findings support the therapeutic use of agrin for joint surface regeneration.
Medical Research Council (MC_PC_12009)
Medical Research Council (MR/R015635/1)
Medical Research Council (MC_PC_17230)