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Open access

Claes Ohlsson, Petra Henning, Karin H Nilsson, Jianyao Wu, Karin L Gustafsson, Klara Sjögren, Anna Törnqvist, Antti Koskela, Fu-Ping Zhang, Marie K Lagerquist, Matti Poutanen, Juha Tuukkanen, Ulf H Lerner, and Sofia Movérare-Skrtic

Substantial progress has been made in the therapeutic reduction of vertebral fracture risk in patients with osteoporosis, but non-vertebral fracture risk has been improved only marginally. Human genetic studies demonstrate that the WNT16 locus is a major determinant of cortical bone thickness and non-vertebral fracture risk and mouse models with life-long Wnt16 inactivation revealed that WNT16 is a key regulator of cortical thickness. These studies, however, could not exclude that the effect of Wnt16 inactivation on cortical thickness might be caused by early developmental and/or growth effects. To determine the effect of WNT16 specifically on adult cortical bone homeostasis, Wnt16 was conditionally ablated in young adult and old mice through tamoxifen-inducible Cre-mediated recombination using CAG-Cre-ER; Wnt16 flox/flox (Cre-Wnt16 flox/flox) mice. First, 10-week-old Cre-Wnt16 flox/flox and Wnt16 flox/flox littermate control mice were treated with tamoxifen. Four weeks later, Wnt16 mRNA levels in cortical bone were reduced and cortical thickness in femur was decreased in Cre-Wnt16 flox/flox mice compared to Wnt16 flox/flox mice. Then, inactivation of Wnt16 in 47-week-old mice (evaluated four weeks later) resulted in a reduction of Wnt16 mRNA levels, cortical thickness and cortical bone strength with no effect on trabecular bone volume fraction. Mechanistic studies demonstrated that the reduced cortical bone thickness was caused by a combination of increased bone resorption and reduced periosteal bone formation. In conclusion, WNT16 is a crucial regulator of cortical bone thickness in young adult and old mice. We propose that new treatment strategies targeting the adult regulation of WNT16 might be useful to reduce fracture risk at cortical bone sites.

Open access

Thomas Funck-Brentano, Karin H Nilsson, Robert Brommage, Petra Henning, Ulf H Lerner, Antti Koskela, Juha Tuukkanen, Martine Cohen-Solal, Sofia Movérare-Skrtic, and Claes Ohlsson

WNT signaling is involved in the tumorigenesis of various cancers and regulates bone homeostasis. Palmitoleoylation of WNTs by Porcupine is required for WNT activity. Porcupine inhibitors are under development for cancer therapy. As the possible side effects of Porcupine inhibitors on bone health are unknown, we determined their effects on bone mass and strength. Twelve-week-old C57BL/6N female mice were treated by the Porcupine inhibitors LGK974 (low dose = 3 mg/kg/day; high dose = 6 mg/kg/day) or Wnt-C59 (10 mg/kg/day) or vehicle for 3 weeks. Bone parameters were assessed by serum biomarkers, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, µCT and histomorphometry. Bone strength was measured by the 3-point bending test. The Porcupine inhibitors were well tolerated demonstrated by normal body weight. Both doses of LGK974 and Wnt-C59 reduced total body bone mineral density compared with vehicle treatment (P < 0.001). Cortical thickness of the femur shaft (P < 0.001) and trabecular bone volume fraction in the vertebral body (P < 0.001) were reduced by treatment with LGK974 or Wnt-C59. Porcupine inhibition reduced bone strength in the tibia (P < 0.05). The cortical bone loss was the result of impaired periosteal bone formation and increased endocortical bone resorption and the trabecular bone loss was caused by reduced trabecular bone formation and increased bone resorption. Porcupine inhibitors exert deleterious effects on bone mass and strength caused by a combination of reduced bone formation and increased bone resorption. We suggest that cancer targeted therapies using Porcupine inhibitors may increase the risk of fractures.

Open access

J Jeyabalan, M Shah, B Viollet, J P Roux, P Chavassieux, M Korbonits, and C Chenu

AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a key regulator of cellular and body energy homeostasis. We previously demonstrated that AMPK activation in osteoblasts increases in vitro bone formation while deletion of the Ampk α 1 (Prkaa1) subunit, the dominant catalytic subunit expressed in bone, leads to decreased bone mass in vivo. To investigate the cause of low bone mass in the Ampkα1 −/− mice, we analysed bone formation and resorption in the tibia of these mice by dynamic histomorphometry and determined whether bone turnover can be stimulated in the absence of the Ampkα1 subunit. We subjected 12-week-old Ampkα1 + / + and Ampkα1 −/− mice to ovariectomy (OVX), intermittent PTH (iPTH) administration (80 μg/kg per day, 5 days/week) or both OVX and iPTH hormonal challenges. Tibiae were harvested from these mice and bone micro-architecture was determined by micro-computed tomography. We show for the first time that Ampkα1 −/− mice have a high bone turnover at the basal level in favour of bone resorption. While both Ampkα1 + / + and Ampkα1 −/− mice lost bone mass after OVX, the bone loss in Ampkα1 −/− mice was lower compared with controls. iPTH increased trabecular and cortical bone indexes in both ovariectomised Ampkα1 + / + and Ampkα1 −/− mice. However, ovariectomised Ampkα1 −/− mice showed a smaller increase in bone parameters in response to iPTH compared with Ampkα1 + / + mice. By contrast, non-ovariectomised Ampkα1 −/− mice responded better to iPTH treatment than non-ovariectomised Ampkα1 + / + mice. Overall, these data demonstrate that Ampkα1 −/− mice are less affected by changes in bone turnover induced by OVX but respond better to the anabolic challenge induced by iPTH. These results suggest that AMPKα1 activation may play a role in the hormonal regulation of bone remodelling.

Open access

Vikte Lionikaite, Karin L Gustafsson, Anna Westerlund, Sara H Windahl, Antti Koskela, Juha Tuukkanen, Helena Johansson, Claes Ohlsson, H Herschel Conaway, Petra Henning, and Ulf H Lerner

Excess vitamin A has been associated with decreased cortical bone thickness and increased fracture risk. While most studies in rodents have employed high dosages of vitamin A for short periods of time, we investigated the bone phenotype in mice after longer exposure to more clinically relevant doses. For 1, 4 and 10 weeks, mice were fed a control diet (4.5 µg retinyl acetate/g chow), a diet modeled from the human upper tolerable limit (UTL; 20 µg retinyl acetate/g chow) and a diet three times UTL (supplemented; 60 µg retinyl acetate/g chow). Time-dependent decreases in periosteal circumference and bone mineral content were noted with the supplemented dose. These reductions in cortical bone resulted in a significant time-dependent decrease of predicted strength and a non-significant trend toward reduced bone strength as analyzed by three-point bending. Trabecular bone in tibiae and vertebrae remained unaffected when vitamin A was increased in the diet. Dynamic histomorphometry demonstrated that bone formation was substantially decreased after 1 week of treatment at the periosteal site with the supplemental dose. Increasing amount of vitamin A decreased endocortical circumference, resulting in decreased marrow area, a response associated with enhanced endocortical bone formation. In the presence of bisphosphonate, vitamin A had no effect on cortical bone, suggesting that osteoclasts are important, even if effects on bone resorption were not detected by osteoclast counting, genes in cortical bone or analysis of serum TRAP5b and CTX. In conclusion, our results indicate that even clinically relevant doses of vitamin A have a negative impact on the amount of cortical bone.

Open access

K A Staines, A S Pollard, I M McGonnell, C Farquharson, and A A Pitsillides

Aberrant redeployment of the ‘transient’ events responsible for bone development and postnatal longitudinal growth has been reported in some diseases in what is otherwise inherently ‘stable’ cartilage. Lessons may be learnt from the molecular mechanisms underpinning transient chondrocyte differentiation and function, and their application may better identify disease aetiology. Here, we review the current evidence supporting this possibility. We firstly outline endochondral ossification and the cellular and physiological mechanisms by which it is controlled in the postnatal growth plate. We then compare the biology of these transient cartilaginous structures to the inherently stable articular cartilage. Finally, we highlight specific scenarios in which the redeployment of these embryonic processes may contribute to disease development, with the foresight that deciphering those mechanisms regulating pathological changes and loss of cartilage stability will aid future research into effective disease-modifying therapies.

Open access

R Dobie, V E MacRae, C Huesa, R van't Hof, S F Ahmed, and C Farquharson

The suppressor of cytokine signalling (Socs2 −/−)-knockout mouse is characterised by an overgrowth phenotype due to enhanced GH signalling. The objective of this study was to define the Socs2 −/− bone phenotype and determine whether GH promotes bone mass via IGF1-dependent mechanisms. Despite no elevation in systemic IGF1 levels, increased body weight in 4-week-old Socs2 −/− mice following GH treatment was associated with increased cortical bone area (Ct.Ar) (P<0.01). Furthermore, detailed bone analysis of male and female juvenile and adult Socs2 −/− mice revealed an altered cortical and trabecular phenotype consistent with the known anabolic effects of GH. Indeed, male Socs2 −/− mice had increased Ct.Ar (P<0.05) and thickness associated with increased strength. Despite this, there was no elevation in hepatic Igf1 expression, suggesting that the anabolic bone phenotype was the result of increased local GH action. Mechanistic studies showed that in osteoblasts and bone of Socs2 −/− mice, STAT5 phosphorylation was significantly increased in response to GH. Conversely, overexpression of SOCS2 decreased GH-induced STAT5 signalling. Although an increase in Igf1 expression was observed in Socs2 −/− osteoblasts following GH, it was not evident in vivo. Igf1 expression levels were not elevated in response to GH in 4-week-old mice and no alterations in expression was observed in bone samples of 6-week-old Socs2 −/− mice. These studies emphasise the critical role of SOCS2 in controlling the local GH anabolic bone effects. We provide compelling evidence implicating SOCS2 in the regulation of GH osteoblast signalling and ultimately bone accrual, which maybe via mechanisms that are independent of IGF1 production in vivo.

Open access

David E Maridas, Victoria E DeMambro, Phuong T Le, Kenichi Nagano, Roland Baron, Subburaman Mohan, and Clifford J Rosen

Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and its binding proteins are critical mediators of skeletal growth. Insulin-like growth factor-binding protein 4 (IGFBP-4) is highly expressed in osteoblasts and inhibits IGF-1 actions in vitro. Yet, in vivo studies suggest that it could potentiate IGF-1 and IGF-2 actions. In this study, we hypothesized that IGFBP-4 might potentiate the actions of IGF-1 on the skeleton. To test this, we comprehensively studied 8- and 16-week-old Igfbp4−/− mice. Both male and female adult Igfbp4−/− mice had marked growth retardation with reductions in body weight, body and femur lengths, fat proportion and lean mass at 8 and 16 weeks. Marked reductions in aBMD and aBMC were observed in 16-week-old Igfbp4−/− females, but not in males. Femoral trabecular BV/TV and thickness, cortical fraction and thickness in 16-week-old Igfbp4−/− females were significantly reduced. However, surprisingly, males had significantly more trabeculae with higher connectivity density than controls. Concordantly, histomorphometry revealed higher bone resorption and lower bone formation in Igfbp4−/− females. In contrast, Igfbp4−/− males had lower mineralized surface/bone surface. Femoral expression of Sost and circulating levels of sclerostin were reduced but only in Igfbp4−/− males. Bone marrow stromal cultures from mutants showed increased osteogenesis, whereas osteoclastogenesis was markedly increased in cells from Igfbp4−/− females but decreased in males. In sum, our results indicate that loss of Igfbp4 affects mesenchymal stromal cell differentiation, regulates osteoclastogenesis and influences both skeletal development and adult bone maintenance. Thus, IGFBP-4 modulates the skeleton in a gender-specific manner, acting as both a cell autonomous and cell non-autonomous factor.

Open access

Louise Grahnemo, Caroline Jochems, Annica Andersson, Cecilia Engdahl, Claes Ohlsson, Ulrika Islander, and Hans Carlsten

Treatment with anti-inflammatory glucocorticoids is associated with osteoporosis. Many of the treated patients are postmenopausal women, who even without treatment have an increased risk of osteoporosis. Lymphocytes have been shown to play a role in postmenopausal and arthritis-induced osteoporosis, and they are targeted by glucocorticoids. The aim of this study was to investigate the mechanisms behind effects of glucocorticoids on bone during health and menopause, focusing on lymphocytes. Female C57BL/6 or SCID mice were therefore sham-operated or ovariectomized and 2 weeks later treatment with dexamethasone (dex), the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug carprofen, or vehicle was started and continued for 2.5 weeks. At the termination of experiments, femurs were phenotyped using peripheral quantitative computed tomography and high-resolution micro-computed tomography, and markers of bone turnover were analyzed in serum. T and B lymphocyte populations in bone marrow and spleen were analyzed by flow cytometry. Dex-treated C57BL/6 mice had increased trabecular bone mineral density, but lower cortical content and thickness compared with vehicle-treated mice. The dex-treated mice also had lower levels of bone turnover markers and markedly decreased numbers of spleen T and B lymphocytes. In contrast, these effects could not be repeated when mice were treated with the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug carprofen. In addition, dex did not increase trabecular bone in ovariectomized SCID mice lacking functional T and B lymphocytes. In contrast to most literature, the results from this study indicate that treatment with dex increased trabecular bone density, which may indicate that this effect is associated with corticosteroid-induced alterations of the lymphocyte populations.

Open access

Jin-Ran Chen, Oxana P Lazarenko, Haijun Zhao, Alexander W Alund, and Kartik Shankar

Intrauterine or early postnatal high-fat diet (HFD) has substantial influences on adult offspring health; however, studies of HFD-induced maternal obesity on regulation of adult offspring bone formation are sparse. Here, we investigated the effects of HFD-induced maternal obesity on both fetal and adult offspring skeletal development. We found that HFD-induced maternal obesity significantly decreased fetal skeletal development, but enhanced fetal osteoblastic cell senescence signaling and significantly increased the expression of inflammatory factors of the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) in osteo-progenitors. It was found that p300/CBP activation led to H3K27 acetylation to increase the expression of senescence-related genes and PPARγ in embryonic mouse osteogenic calvarial cells from HFD obese dams. These results were recapitulated in human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells (UC MSCs) isolated from offspring of pregnant obese and lean mothers following delivery. Regardless of postnatal HFD challenge, adult offspring from HFD obese dams showed significantly suppressed bone formation. Such early involution of bone formation of adult offspring from HFD obese dams may at least in part due to histone acetylation, i.e., epigenetic regulation of genes involved in cell senescence signaling in pre-osteoblasts from prenatal development. These findings indicate fetal pre-osteoblastic cell senescence signaling is epigenetically regulated by maternal obesity to repress bone formation in adult offspring in rodents and suggest that at least some of these effects may also manifest in humans.

Open access

K L Gustafsson, K H Nilsson, H H Farman, A Andersson, V Lionikaite, P Henning, J Wu, S H Windahl, U Islander, S Movérare-Skrtic, K Sjögren, H Carlsten, J-Å Gustafsson, C Ohlsson, and M K Lagerquist

Estrogen treatment has positive effects on the skeleton, and we have shown that estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) expression in cells of hematopoietic origin contributes to a normal estrogen treatment response in bone tissue. T lymphocytes are implicated in the estrogenic regulation of bone mass, but it is not known whether T lymphocytes are direct estrogen target cells. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine the importance of ERα expression in T lymphocytes for the estrogenic regulation of the skeleton using female mice lacking ERα expression specifically in T lymphocytes (Lck-ERα−/−) and ERαflox/flox littermate (control) mice. Deletion of ERα expression in T lymphocytes did not affect bone mineral density (BMD) in sham-operated Lck-ERα−/− compared to control mice, and ovariectomy (ovx) resulted in a similar decrease in BMD in control and Lck-ERα−/− mice compared to sham-operated mice. Furthermore, estrogen treatment of ovx Lck-ERα−/− led to an increased BMD that was indistinguishable from the increase seen after estrogen treatment of ovx control mice. Detailed analysis of both the appendicular (femur) and axial (vertebrae) skeleton showed that both trabecular and cortical bone parameters responded to a similar extent regardless of the presence of ERα in T lymphocytes. In conclusion, ERα expression in T lymphocytes is dispensable for normal estrogenic regulation of bone mass in female mice.