UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications


Synovium-Derived MicroRNAs Regulate Bone Pathways in Rheumatoid Arthritis

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology; Department of Orthopedics and Physical Rehabilitation

Publication Date


Document Type



Cell Biology | Musculoskeletal Diseases | Rheumatology


Articular bone erosion in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is mediated by the interaction between inflammation and pathways regulating bone metabolism. Inflammation promotes osteoclastogenesis and also inhibits osteoblast function, further contributing to the persistence of erosions. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are important regulators of skeletal remodeling and play a role in RA pathogenesis. We therefore determined the expression of miRNAs in inflamed synovial tissue and the role they play in pathways regulating osteoblast and osteoclast function. Using the serum transfer mouse model of RA in C57BL/6 mice, we performed Fluidigm high-throughput qPCR-based screening of miRNAs from nonarthritic and arthritic mice. Global gene expression profiling was also performed on Affymetrix microarrays from these same synovial samples. miRNA and mRNA expression profiles were subjected to comparative bioinformatics. A total of 536 upregulated genes and 417 downregulated genes were identified that are predicted targets of miRNAs with reciprocal expression changes. Gene ontology analysis of these genes revealed significant enrichment in skeletal pathways. Of the 22 miRNAs whose expression was most significantly changed (p < 0.01) between nonarthritic and arthritic mice, we identified their targets that both inhibit and promote bone formation. These miRNAs are predicted to target Wnt and BMP signaling pathway components. We validated miRNA array findings and demonstrated that secretion of miR-221-3p in exosomes was upregulated by synovial fibroblasts treated with the proinflammatory cytokine TNF. Overexpression of miR-221-3p suppressed calvarial osteoblast differentiation and mineralization in vitro. These results suggest that miRNAs derived from inflamed synovial tissues may regulate signaling pathways at erosion sites that affect bone loss and potentially also compensatory bone formation.


bone, microRNA, osteoblast, rheumatoid arthritis, synovium

DOI of Published Version



J Bone Miner Res. 2017 Mar;32(3):461-472. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.3005. Epub 2016 Oct 28. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of bone and mineral research : the official journal of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research

PubMed ID