Single-cell mass cytometry reveals cross-talk between inflammation-dampening and inflammation-amplifying cells in osteoarthritic cartilage

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Science Advances  13 Mar 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 11, eaay5352
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay5352


Aging or injury leads to degradation of the cartilage matrix and the development of osteoarthritis (OA). Because of a paucity of single-cell studies of OA cartilage, little is known about the interpatient variability in its cellular composition and, more importantly, about the cell subpopulations that drive the disease. Here, we profiled healthy and OA cartilage samples using mass cytometry to establish a single-cell atlas, revealing distinct chondrocyte progenitor and inflammation-modulating subpopulations. These rare populations include an inflammation-amplifying (Inf-A) population, marked by interleukin-1 receptor 1 and tumor necrosis factor receptor II, whose inhibition decreased inflammation, and an inflammation-dampening (Inf-D) population, marked by CD24, which is resistant to inflammation. We devised a pharmacological strategy targeting Inf-A and Inf-D cells that significantly decreased inflammation in OA chondrocytes. Using our atlas, we stratified patients with OA in three groups that are distinguished by the relative proportions of inflammatory to regenerative cells, making it possible to devise precision therapeutic approaches.

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