Development of a cyclic-inverso AHSG/Fetuin A-based peptide for inhibition of calcification in osteoarthritis

G G H van den Akker, J S J J Steijns, R H M J Stassen, G B Wasilewski, L C W Peeters, K A P Wijnands, L J Schurgers, M M J Caron, L L W van Rhijn, T J M Welting*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: Ectopic calcification is an important contributor to chronic diseases, such as osteoarthritis. Currently, no effective therapies exist to counteract calcification. We developed peptides derived from the calcium binding domain of human Alpha-2-HS-Glycoprotein (AHSG/Fetuin A) to counteract calcification. Methods: A library of seven 30 amino acid (AA) long peptides, spanning the 118 AA Cystatin 1 domain of AHSG, were synthesized and evaluated in an in vitro calcium phosphate precipitation assay. The best performing peptide was modified (cyclic, retro-inverso and combinations thereof) and evaluated in cellular calcification models and the rat Medial Collateral Ligament Transection + Medial Meniscal Tear (MCLT + MMT) osteoarthritis model. Results: A cyclic peptide spanning AA 1–30 of mature AHSG showed clear inhibition of calcium phosphate precipitation in the nM–pM range that far exceeded the biological activity of the linear peptide variant or bovine Fetuin. Biochemical and electron microscopy analyses of calcium phosphate particles revealed a similar, but distinct, mode of action in comparison with bFetuin. A cyclic-inverso variant of the AHSG 1–30 peptide inhibited calcification of human articular chondrocytes, vascular smooth muscle cells and during osteogenic differentiation of bone marrow derived stromal cells. Lastly, we evaluated the effect of intra-articular injection of the cyclic-inverso AHSG 1–30 peptide in a rat osteoarthritis model. A significant improvement was found in histopathological osteoarthritis score and animal mobility. Serum levels of IFNγ were found to be lower in AHSG 1–30 peptide treated animals. Conclusions: The cyclic-inverso AHSG 1–30 peptide directly inhibits the calcification process and holds the potential for future application in osteoarthritis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)727-740
Number of pages14
JournalOsteoarthritis and Cartilage
Issue number6
Early online date19 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


Dive into the research topics of 'Development of a cyclic-inverso AHSG/Fetuin A-based peptide for inhibition of calcification in osteoarthritis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this