The JAK inhibitor Tofacitinib inhibits structural damage in osteoarthritis by modulating JAK1/TNF-alpha/IL-6 signaling through Mir-149-5p

Yen Shuo Chiu, Oluwaseun Adebayo Bamodu, Iat Hang Fong, Wei Hwa Lee, Chih Cheng Lin, Chen Hsu Lu, Chi Tai Yeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Osteoarthritis (OA), a common articular bone degenerative disease, is exacerbated by proinflammatory cytokine signaling. Mounting evidence suggests that epigenetic modifiers, namely microRNAs (miRs), are dysregulated in articular chondrocytes (ACs) during OA. Methods: An initial database search led to the identification of miR-149-5p, which was downregulated in clinical OA samples and contributed to chronic inflammation, by increasing TNF-α/IL-6 signaling within the synovium, and OA progression. Results: We overexpressed miR-149-5p in the human chondrocyte cell lines C20A4 and C28/I2 to examine its role in chondrocyte hypertrophy and osteoclastogenesis and found a significant decrease in IL-6 expression, an increase in SOX9 expression, and a reduction in chondrocyte hypertrophy. We evaluated the therapeutic effects of tofacitinib (JAK inhibitor) by suppressing inflammation and restoring miR-149-5p expression. Tofacitinib-treated C20A4 and C28/I2 cells had a significantly lower expression of JAK/IL-6/TNF-α and an increased level of miR-149-5p. Notably, tofacitinib treatment reduced AC hypertrophy and secretion of RANKL and IL-6. Finally, an OA mouse model was used to evaluate the therapeutic potential of tofacitinib. Intra-articular injection of tofacitinib significantly lowered arthritis scores and bone degradation in treated mice compared with their control counterparts. Conclusion: We show for the first time that tofacitinib suppresses the expression level of JAK1/TNF-α/IL-6 by upregulating miR-149-5p level. Our findings revealed the functional association between proinflammatory JAK1/TNF-α/IL-6 signaling and ACs development and highlight the therapeutic potential of tofacitinib in OA.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116024
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • Chondrocyte hypertrophy
  • JAK inhibitor (tofacitinib)
  • miR-149-5p
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Therapeutics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Histology
  • Physiology


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