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08-02-2018 | Rheumatoid arthritis | Article

Adiponectin aggravates bone erosion by promoting osteopontin production in synovial tissue of rheumatoid arthritis

Arthritis Research & Therapy

Authors: Jie Qian, Lingxiao Xu, Xiaoxuan Sun, Yani Wang, Wenhua Xuan, Qian Zhang, Pengfei Zhao, Qin Wu, Rui Liu, Nan Che, Fang Wang, Wenfeng Tan, Miaojia Zhang

Publisher: BioMed Central



We have previously reported that adiponectin (AD), an adipokine that is secreted by adipocytes, correlates well with progressive bone erosion in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The exact mechanism of AD in promoting joint destruction remains unclear. Osteopontin (OPN) is required for osteoclast recruitment. We hypothesized that AD exacerbates bone erosion by inducing OPN expression in synovial tissue. This study aimed to evaluate a novel role for AD in RA.


The serum levels of AD and OPN were determined in 38 patients with RA, 40 patients with osteoarthritis (OA), and 20 healthy controls using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). AD and OPN production were measured by double immunofluorescence in RA and OA synovial tissue. Quantitative real-time PCR and immunofluorescence were used to evaluate the mRNA and protein expression levels of OPN in RA synovial fibroblasts (RASFs) and OA synovial fibroblasts after pre-incubation with AD, respectively. Migration of the RAW264.7 osteoclast precursor cell line was assessed using the Transwell migration assay and co-culture system. Bone destruction and osteoclastogenesis were assessed by immunohistochemical staining, microcomputed tomography and tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) staining in AD-treated collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) mice with or without OPN silencing. The expression levels of OPN and integrin αvβ3 in the ankle joint tissues of the mice were examined by double immunofluorescence.


Our results indicated that the AD and OPN expression levels increased noticeably and were associated with each other in the RA serum. The AD distribution was coincident with that of OPN in the RA synovial tissue. AD stimulation of RASFs increased OPN production in a dose-dependent manner. AD-treated RASFs promoted RAW264.7 cell migration, and the effect was blocked with a specific antibody against OPN. Silencing of OPN using lentiviral-OPN short hairpin RNA reduced the number of TRAP-positive osteoclasts and the extent of bone erosion in the AD-treated CIA mice. When bound to integrin αvβ3, OPN functions as a mediator of AD and osteoclasts.


Our study provides new evidence of AD involvement in bone erosion. AD induces the expression of OPN, which recruits osteoclasts and initiates bone erosion. These data highlight AD as a novel target for RA treatment.

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