Purpose: To explore the regulatory mechanism of miR-137 and transcription factor 4 (TCF4) in the progression of osteoarthritis (OA). Patients and Methods: The expressions of miR-137 and TCF4 were detected in OA cartilage tissue, chondrocytes and OA rat cartilage tissue. miR-137 and TCF4 were up-regulated or down-regulated and transfected into chondrocytes and OA rat cartilage tissue. The gene expression, protein level, cell proliferation, apoptosis and inflammatory factors were detected, respectively. LPS and anterior cruciate ligament transection (ACLT) on the right knee were used to induce chondrocyte inflammation and establish rat OA model, respectively. Results: miR-137 was low expressed in cartilage tissue of OA group, while TCF4 expression and protein level were significantly higher, showing significant negative correlation. In LPS group, chondrocyte activity was significantly inhibited, cell apoptosis ability was significantly enhanced, and the levels of inflammatory factors TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-6 were significantly increased. However, the above results were significantly improved after the up-regulation of miR-137 or down-regulation of TCF4. Double luciferase report revealed that miR-137 and TCF4 had targeted relationship. LPS induced activation of AMPK/NF-κB pathway and higher level of apoptosis. AMPK/NF-κB pathway inhibitor C could inhibit activation of this pathway, and up-regulation of miR-137 or down-regulation of TCF4 could significantly weaken the regulation of LPS on the pathway and apoptosis. Analysis of OA rat model showed that over-expression of miR-137 could inhibit up-regulation of inflammatory factors and activation of AMPK/NF-κB pathway. Conclusion: miR-137 targets the inhibition of TCF4 to reverse the progression of OA through the AMPK/NF-κB signaling pathway.

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