Abnormal activation of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling is implicated in the osteoarthritis (OA) pathology. We searched for a pre-approved drug that suppresses abnormally activated Wnt/β-catenin signaling and has a potency to reduce joint pathology in OA. We introduced the TOPFlash reporter plasmid into HCS-2/8 human chondrosarcoma cells to estimate the Wnt/β-catenin activity in the presence of 10 μM each compound in a panel of pre-approved drugs. We found that fluoxetine, an antidepressant in the class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), down-regulated Wnt/β-catenin signaling in human chondrosarcoma cells. Fluoxetine inhibited both Wnt3A- and LiCl-induced loss of proteoglycans in chondrogenically differentiated ATDC5 cells. Fluoxetine increased expression of Sox9 (the chondrogenic master regulator), and decreased expressions of Axin2 (a marker for Wnt/β-catenin signaling) and Mmp13 (matrix metalloproteinase 13). Fluoxetine suppressed a LiCl-induced increase of total β-catenin and a LiCl-induced decrease of phosphorylated β-catenin in a dose-dependent manner. An in vitro protein-binding assay showed that fluoxetine enhanced binding of β-catenin with Axin1, which is a scaffold protein forming the degradation complex for β-catenin. Fluoxetine suppressed LiCl-induced β-catenin accumulation in human OA chondrocytes. Intraarticular injection of fluoxetine in a rat OA model ameliorated OA progression and suppressed β-catenin accumulation.
Miyamoto, K., Ohkawara, B., Ito, M., Masuda, A., Hirakawa, A., Sakai, T., … Ohno, K. (2017). Fluoxetine ameliorates cartilage degradation in osteoarthritis by inhibiting Wnt/β-catenin signaling. PLoS ONE, 12(9). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0184388