Cellular physiology and biochemistry : international journal of experimental cellular physiology, biochemistry, and pharmacology

Dickkopf1 Up-Regulation Induced by a High Concentration of Dexamethasone Promotes Rat Tendon Stem Cells to Differentiate Into Adipocytes.

PMID 26544628


Dexamethasone (Dex)-induced spontaneous tendon rupture and decreased self-repair capability is very common in clinical practice. The metaplasia of adipose tissue in the ruptured tendon indicates that Dex may induce tendon stem cells (TSCs) to differentiate into adipocytes, but the mechanism remains unclear. In the present study, we used in vitro methods to investigate the effects of Dex on rat TSC differentiation and the molecular mechanisms underlying this process. First, we used qPCR and Western blotting to detect the expression of the adipogenic differentiation markers aP2 and C/EBPα after treating the TSCs with Dex. Oil red staining was used to confirm that high concentration Dex promoted adipogenic differentiation of rat TSCs. Next, we used qPCR and Western blotting to detect the effect of a high concentration of dexamethasone on molecules related to the canonical WNT/β-catenin pathway in TSCs. Treating rat TSCs with Dex promoted the synthesis of the inhibitory molecule dickkopf1 (DKK1) at the mRNA and protein levels. Western blotting results further showed that Dex downregulated the cellular signaling molecule phosphorylated glycogen synthase kinase-3β (P-GSK-3 β (ser9)), upregulated P-GSK-3β (tyr216), and downregulated the pivotal signaling molecule β-catenin. Furthermore, DKK1 knockdown attenuated Dex-induced inhibition of the canonical WNT/β-catenin pathway and of the adipogenic differentiation of TSCs. Lithium chloride (LiCl, a GSK-3β inhibitor) reduced Dex-induced inhibition of the classical WNT/β-catenin pathway in TSCs and of the differentiation of TSCs to adipocytes. In conclusion, by upregulating DKK1 expression, reducing the level of P-GSK-3β (ser9), and increasing the level of P-GSK-3β (tyr216), Dex causes the degradation of β-catenin, the central molecule of the classical WNT pathway, thereby inducing rat TSCs to differentiate into adipocytes.