Extracellular Vesicles Released From Articular Chondrocytes Play a Major Role in Cell–Cell Communication

Xiaoming Liu, Claire Shortt, Fenglin Zhang, Mariah Q. Bater, Mary K. Cowman, Thorsten Kirsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this investigation was to determine the role of extracellular vesicles (EVs), released from articular chondrocytes in a physiological or pathological state, in cell–cell communication with other articular chondrocytes or chondrocyte precursor cells. The conditioned medium from interleukin-1β (IL-1β)-treated human articular chondrocytes stimulated catabolic events and inhibited type II collagen expression in articular chondrocytes to a much greater degree than medium from IL-1β-treated chondrocytes after complete removal of EVs. The vehicle-treated and IL-1β-treated human articular chondrocytes released EVs of similar size; however, the number of EVs released by IL-1β-treated chondrocytes was markedly higher than the number of EVs released from the vehicle-treated cells. Furthermore, our findings demonstrate that similar to medium from IL-1β-treated chondrocytes containing EVs, EVs isolated from medium of IL-1β-treated chondrocytes stimulated catabolic events in articular chondrocytes, whereas EVs isolated from the medium of vehicle-treated chondrocytes inhibited catabolic events and increased messenger RNA levels of aggrecan and type II collagen in IL-1β-treated chondrocytes. Furthermore, the medium containing EVs from vehicle-treated articular chondrocytes or EVs isolated from this medium stimulated chondrogenesis of C3H10T1/2 cells, whereas medium containing EVs from IL-1β-treated chondrocytes or EVs isolated from this medium inhibited chondrogenesis. Our findings suggest that EVs released by articular chondrocytes play a key role in the communication between joint cells and ultimately in joint homeostasis, maintenance, pathology, and repair.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)731-739
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


  • articular chondrocytes
  • catabolic events
  • chondrogenesis
  • extracellular vesicles
  • Cell Line
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Cell Communication
  • Cartilage, Articular/cytology
  • Animals
  • Extracellular Vesicles/physiology
  • Chondrocytes/physiology
  • Aged
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Mice
  • Primary Cell Culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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