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Brockmueller, Aranka; Buhrmann, Constanze; Shayan, Parviz; Shakibaei, Mehdi (2024): Calebin A modulates inflammatory and autophagy signals for the prevention and treatment of osteoarthritis. Frontiers in Immunology, 15: 1363947. ISSN 1664-3224

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Osteoarthritis (OA) is associated with excessive cartilage degradation, inflammation, and decreased autophagy. Insufficient efficacy of conventional monotherapies and poor tissue regeneration due to side effects are just some of the unresolved issues. Our previous research has shown that Calebin A (CA), a component of turmeric ( Curcuma longa ), has pronounced anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects by modulating various cell signaling pathways. Whether CA protects chondrocytes from degradation and apoptosis in the OA environment (EN), particularly via the autophagy signaling pathway, is however completely unclear.


To study the anti-degradative and anti-apoptotic effects of CA in an inflamed joint, an in vitro model of OA-EN was created and treated with antisense oligonucleotides targeting NF-κB (ASO-NF-κB), and IκB kinase (IKK) inhibitor (BMS-345541) or the autophagy inhibitor 3-methyladenine (3-MA) and/or CA to affect chondrocyte proliferation, degradation, apoptosis, and autophagy. The mechanisms underlying the CA effects were investigated by MTT assays, immunofluorescence, transmission electron microscopy, and Western blot analysis in a 3D-OA high-density culture model.


In contrast to OA-EN or TNF-α-EN, a treatment with CA protects chondrocytes from stress-induced defects by inhibiting apoptosis, matrix degradation, and signaling pathways associated with inflammation (NF-κB, MMP9) or autophagy-repression (mTOR/PI3K/Akt), while promoting the expression of matrix compounds (collagen II, cartilage specific proteoglycans), transcription factor Sox9, and autophagy-associated proteins (Beclin-1, LC3). However, the preventive properties of CA in OA-EN could be partially abrogated by the autophagy inhibitor 3-MA.


The present results reveal for the first time that CA is able to ameliorate the progression of OA by modulating autophagy pathway, inhibiting inflammation and apoptosis in chondrocytes, suggesting that CA may be a novel therapeutic compound for OA.

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