Theranostics 2020; 10(1):17-35. doi:10.7150/thno.36930 This issue

Research Paper

Macrophage MSR1 promotes BMSC osteogenic differentiation and M2-like polarization by activating PI3K/AKT/GSK3β/β-catenin pathway

Shu-Jie Zhao1, Fan-Qi Kong1, Jian Jie1,2, Qing Li3, Hao Liu1, An-Di Xu4, Ya-Qing Yang4, Bin Jiang4, Dong-Dong Wang4, Zhong-Qiu Zhou4, Peng-Yu Tang1, Jian Chen1, Qian Wang1, Zheng Zhou1, Qi Chen4, Guo-Yong Yin1✉, Han-Wen Zhang4✉, Jin Fan1✉

1. Department of Orthopedics, The First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, 210029, China.
2. Department of Orthopedics, Pukou Branch of JiangSu Province Hospital (Nanjing Pukou Central Hospital), Nanjing, 211800, China.
3. State Key Laboratory of Oncogenes and Related Genes, Shanghai Cancer Institute, Ren Ji Hospital, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, 200240, China.
4. Key Laboratory of Targeted Intervention of Cardiovascular Disease, Collaborative Innovation Center for Cardiovascular Disease Translational Medicine, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, 211100, China.
These authors contributed equally: Shu-Jie Zhao, Fan-Qi Kong and Jian Jie.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( See for full terms and conditions.
Zhao SJ, Kong FQ, Jie J, Li Q, Liu H, Xu AD, Yang YQ, Jiang B, Wang DD, Zhou ZQ, Tang PY, Chen J, Wang Q, Zhou Z, Chen Q, Yin GY, Zhang HW, Fan J. Macrophage MSR1 promotes BMSC osteogenic differentiation and M2-like polarization by activating PI3K/AKT/GSK3β/β-catenin pathway. Theranostics 2020; 10(1):17-35. doi:10.7150/thno.36930. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Approximately 10% of bone fractures do not heal satisfactorily, leading to significant clinical and socioeconomic implications. Recently, the role of macrophages in regulating bone marrow stem cell (BMSC) differentiation through the osteogenic pathway during fracture healing has attracted much attention.

Methods: The tibial monocortical defect model was employed to determine the critical role of macrophage scavenger receptor 1 (MSR1) during intramembranous ossification (IO) in vivo. The potential functions and mechanisms of MSR1 were explored in a co-culture system of bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDMs), RAW264.7 cells, and BMSCs using qPCR, Western blotting, immunofluorescence, and RNA sequencing.

Results: In this study, using the tibial monocortical defect model, we observed delayed IO in MSR1 knockout (KO) mice compared to MSR1 wild-type (WT) mice. Furthermore, macrophage MSR1 mediated PI3K/AKT/GSK3β/β-catenin signaling increased ability to promote osteogenic differentiation of BMSCs in the co-culture system. We also identified proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1-alpha (PGC1α) as the target gene for macrophage MSR1-activated PI3K/AKT/GSK3β/β-catenin pathway in the co-culture system that facilitated M2-like polarization by enhancing mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation.

Conclusion: Our findings revealed a previously unrecognized function of MSR1 in macrophages during fracture repair. Targeting MSR1 might, therefore, be a new therapeutic strategy for fracture repair.

Keywords: Macrophage scavenger receptor 1, Bone marrow stem cells, Osteogenic differentiation, Oxidative phosphorylation, PI3K/AKT/GSK3β/β-catenin pathway