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Isolated rat liver, when perfused with medium containing bovine growth homone produced somatomedin-like activity (liver somatomedin).

Liver somatomedin is useful in studies of the hormonal control of the cartilage plate in vitro, since unlike serum it is not contaminated with other hormones or growth factors (apart from growth hormone). Chondrocytes isolated from various regions of the growth cartilage responded differently to liver somatomedin; proliferative chondrocytes, like those isolated from the articular cartilage, showed increased [3H]thymidine uptake in response to liver somatomedin, whereas hypertrophic chondrocytes did not respond. It is suggested that there is a reduction in the response to somatomedin by growth plate chondrocytes as they pass from the proliferative to the hypertrophic state.

Thyroxine, thought to be involved in the processes of hypertrophy and new bone formation, did not directly affect [3H]thymidine uptake by proliferative chondrocytes, but inhibited stimulation of their activity by liver somatomedin.

Measurement of [3H]thymidine uptake by isolated articular chondrocytes may provide a useful assay for both liver and serum somatomedin. The graded response of chondrocytes to increasing concentrations of liver somatomedin paralleled the response to increasing levels of serum somatomedin.

Free access

H Robson, E Anderson, OB Eden, O Isaksson, and S Shalet

Short stature is one of the most well recorded long term sequelae for adult survivors of childhood malignancies. It has become increasingly apparent that cytotoxic chemotherapy, as well as craniospinal irradiation, has a major impact on growth, but there are virtually no studies which explore the mechanisms by which these cytotoxic drugs affect growth. We have used an in vitro system to investigate the direct effects of a range of chemotherapeutic agents on the proliferative responses of rat tibial growth plate chondrocytes, both in suspension and monolayer culture. The glucocorticoids and purine anti-metabolites reduced chondrocyte proliferation both in monolayer and suspension cultures and this resulted from an increase in cell doubling times with a concomittant reduction in the numbers of S phase cells. DNA damaging agents (e.g. actinomycin-D) were also able to reduce chondrocyte proliferation, both in monolayer and suspension culture. This, however, was the result of a cell cycle arrest and subsequent cell death. In our studies, methotrexate had no significant effect on the proliferative responses of the chondrocytes either in monolayer or suspension culture. These results indicate direct effects of a range of chemotherapeutic agents on the proliferative responses of growth plate chondrocytes. Both cytostatic and cytotoxic effects were observed although the impact of either the potential loss of cells from the proliferative pool during chondrocyte differentiation, or the reduction in the rate of chondrocyte turnover on long bone growth remains to be elucidated.

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.

Free access

Miskal Sbaihi, Karine Rousseau, Sylvie Baloche, François Meunier, Martine Fouchereau-Peron, and Sylvie Dufour

Endogenous excess cortisol and glucocorticoid (GC) therapy are a major cause of secondary osteoporosis in humans. Intense bone resorption can also be observed in other vertebrates such as migratory teleost fish at the time of reproductive migration and during fasting when large amounts of calcium and phosphate are required. Using a primitive teleost, the European eel, as a model, we investigated whether cortisol could play an ancestral role in the induction of vertebral skeleton demineralization. Different histological and histomorphometric methods were performed on vertebral samples of control and cortisol-treated eels. We demonstrated that cortisol induced a significant bone demineralization of eel vertebrae, as shown by significant decreases of the mineral ratio measured by incineration, and the degree of mineralization measured by quantitative microradiography of vertebral sections. Histology and image analysis of ultrathin microradiographs showed the induction by cortisol of different mechanisms of bone resorption, including periosteocytic osteolysis and osteoclastic resorption. Specificity of cortisol action was investigated by comparison with the effects of sex steroids. Whereas, testosterone had no effect, estradiol induced vertebral skeleton demineralization, an effect related to the stimulated synthesis of vitellogenin (Vg), an oviparous specific phospho-calcio-lipoprotein. By contrast, the cortisol demineralization effect was not related to any stimulation of Vg. This study demonstrates GC-induced bone demineralization in an adult non-mammalian vertebrate, which undergoes natural bone resorption during its life cycle. Our data suggest that the stimulatory action of cortisol on bone loss may represent an ancestral and conserved endocrine regulation in vertebrates.

Free access

Alessandra Bitto, Francesca Polito, Bruce Burnett, Robert Levy, Vincenzo Di Stefano, Mary Ann Armbruster, Herbert Marini, Letteria Minutoli, Domenica Altavilla, and Francesco Squadrito

Glucocorticoid (GC)-induced osteoporosis (GIO) is the most important secondary cause of bone loss. Clinical evidence suggests a role for genistein (GEN) aglycone in the prevention of osteoporosis. We investigated whether GEN could prevent GIO as well as the development of osteonecrosis in the femoral head using an experimental rat model. A total of 28 female Sprague–Dawley rats were used in the study. GIO and osteonecrosis were induced by daily s.c. injections of 30 mg/kg of methylprednisolone (MP; n=7). Another group of animals (MP+GEN; n=7) concomitantly received MP (30 mg/kg per s.c.) and GEN aglycone (5 mg/kg per i.p.) for 60 days. Control animals were administered daily with vehicle (VEH) or GEN (5 mg/kg per i.p.) only. At the beginning and end of the treatment, animals were examined for bone mineral density (BMD) and bone mineral content (BMC). After killing, serum was collected to determine bone-alkaline phosphatase (b-ALP), carboxy-terminal collagen crosslink (CTX) and osteoprotegerin (OPG) levels. Femurs were removed and tested for breaking strength and bone histology analyzed for structural quality of the femoral neck. GEN aglycone prevented bone loss as measured by BMD and BMC. Moreover, GEN significantly increased the bone formation markers b-ALP and OPG, reduced the bone resorption marker CTX and statistically maintained comparable strength versus the VEH only group. Finally, histological scoring revealed a protective effect of GEN on bone structure statistically comparable with the VEH control animals. Results suggest that the GEN aglycone might be a preventive treatment for GIO and complications of osteonecrosis with long-term GC treatment.

Free access

MK Lindberg, Z Weihua, N Andersson, S Moverare, H Gao, O Vidal, M Erlandsson, S Windahl, G Andersson, DB Lubahn, H Carlsten, K Dahlman-Wright, JA Gustafsson, and C Ohlsson

Estrogen exerts a variety of important physiological effects, which have been suggested to be mediated via the two known estrogen receptors (ERs), alpha and beta. Three-month-old ovariectomized mice, lacking one or both of the two estrogen receptors, were given estrogen subcutaneously (2.3 micro g/mouse per day) and the effects on different estrogen-responsive parameters, including skeletal effects, were studied. We found that estrogen increased the cortical bone dimensions in both wild-type (WT) and double ER knockout (DERKO) mice. DNA microarray analysis was performed to characterize this effect on cortical bone and it identified four genes that were regulated by estrogen in both WT and DERKO mice. The effect of estrogen on cortical bone in DERKO mice might either be due to remaining ERalpha activity or represent an ERalpha/ERbeta-independent effect. Other effects of estrogen, such as increased trabecular bone mineral density, thymic atrophy, fat reduction and increased uterine weight, were mainly ERalpha mediated.

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J. W. M. Chow, J. M. Lean, T. Abe, and T. J. Chambers


We have previously demonstrated that administration of oestrogen, at doses sufficient to raise serum concentrations to those seen in late pregnancy, increases trabecular bone formation in the metaphysis of adult rats. To determine whether prostaglandins (PGs), which have been shown to induce osteogenesis in vivo, play a role in the induction of bone formation by oestrogen, 13-week-old female rats were given daily doses of 4 mg 17β-oestradiol (OE2)/kg for 17 days, alone or with indomethacin (1 mg/kg). The rats were also given double fluorochrome labels and at the end of the experiment tibias were subjected to histomorphometric assessment. Treatment with OE2 suppressed longitudinal bone growth and increased uterine wet weight, as expected, and neither response was affected by indomethacin. Oestrogen also induced a threefold increase in trabecular bone formation in the proximal tibial metaphysis, which resulted in a substantial increase in trabecular bone volume. As previously observed, the increase in bone formation was predominantly due to an increase in osteoblast recruitment (as judged by an increase in the percentage of bone surface showing double fluorochrome labels), with only a minor increase in the activity of mature osteoblasts (as judged by the mineral apposition rate). Indomethacin abolished the increase in osteoblastic recruitment, but the activity of mature osteoblastic cells remained high. The bone formation rate and bone volume remained similar to controls. The results suggest that PG production may be necessary for the increased osteoblastic recruitment induced by oestrogen, but not to mediate the effects of oestrogen on the activity of mature osteoblasts.

Journal of Endocrinology (1992) 133, 189–195

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A. Goulding and E. Gold


Prolonged administration of LHRH agonist suppresses pituitary gonadotrophin secretion, thereby lowering blood oestrogen. This study was undertaken to compare the osteopaenic effects of bilateral ovariectomy and chronic administration of the LHRH agonist, buserelin, in the rat. Four groups of animals which had their skeletons labelled with 45Ca were studied for 4 weeks. Group 1 underwent a sham-ovariectomy, group 2 were surgically ovariectomized, group 3 were given buserelin by daily s.c. injection and group 4 were given a continuous infusion of buserelin by osmotic minipump. Plasma concentrations of oestradiol were measured weekly. Bone resorption was assessed by measuring the urinary excretion of 45Ca and hydroxyproline and determining bone 45Ca content.

Ovariectomy and buserelin treatments lowered blood oestradiol, increased biochemical indices of bone resorption and decreased femur and total body calcium and 45Ca values. The degree of oesteopaenia elicited by ovariectomy and buserelin treatment was similar. Bone responses to s.c. buserelin and to continuous buserelin infusion were alike. We attribute evidence of increases in bone resorption and induction of osteopaenia with buserelin treatment to hypo-oestrogenism.

We have shown for the first time by bone analysis that buserelin induces osteopaenia as effectively as bilateral ovariectomy. This appears to be the first demonstration in the rat that long-term administration of LHRH agonist influences bone. Administration of buserelin provides a new way of inducing oestrogen-deficiency osteopaenia in the rat without removing the ovaries.

Journal of Endocrinology (1989) 121, 293–298

Free access

JJ Smink, JG Koster, MG Gresnigt, R Rooman, JA Koedam, and SC Van Buul-Offers

Glucocorticoid (GC) treatment in childhood can lead to suppression of longitudinal growth as a side effect. The actions of GCs are thought to be mediated in part by impaired action of the insulin-like growth factors (IGF-I and IGF-II) and their binding proteins (IGFBP-1 to -6). We have studied the effects of GCs on IGF and IGFBP expression at the local level of the growth plate, using non-radioactive in situ hybridization. We treated 3-week-old normal mice for 4 weeks with dexamethasone (DXM). We also treated human IGF-II (hIGF-II) transgenic mice in order to investigate whether IGF-II could protect against the growth retarding effect of this GC. DXM treatment resulted in general growth retardation in both mice strains, however, only in normal mice was tibial length decreased. In both normal and hIGF-II trangenic mice, the total width of the growth plate was not affected, whereas the width of the proliferative zone decreased as a result of the DXM treatment. Additionally, only in normal mice, the width of the hypertrophic zone thickened. Only expression of IGF-I, IGF-II and IGFBP-2 could be detected in the growth plates of 7-week-old normal mice. IGFBP-1, -3, -4, -5 and -6 mRNAs were not detected. DXM treatment of normal mice induced a significant 2.4-fold increase in the number of cells expressing IGF-I mRNA, whereas IGF-II and IGFBP-2 mRNA levels were not affected. In hIGF-II transgenic mice, IGF-I mRNA levels were significantly increased, while endogenous IGF-II and IGFBP-2 mRNAs were unaffected, compared to normal animals. DXM treatment of the hIGF-II transgenic mice induced a further increase of IGF-I mRNA expression, to a similar extent as in DXM-treated normal mice. The increase of IGF-I due to DXM treatment in normal mice might be a reaction in order to minimize the GC-induced growth retardation. Another possibility could be that the increase of IGF-I would contribute to the GC-induced growth retardation by accelerating the differentiation of chondrocytes, resulting in accelerated ossification. In the growth plates of hIGF-II transgenic mice, the higher basal level of IGF-I, might be responsible for the observed partial protection against the adverse effects of GCs on bone.

Free access

J Jeyabalan, M Shah, B Viollet, and C Chenu

There is increasing evidence that osteoporosis, similarly to obesity and diabetes, could be another disorder of energy metabolism. AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) has emerged over the last decade as a key sensing mechanism in the regulation of cellular energy homeostasis and is an essential mediator of the central and peripheral effects of many hormones on the metabolism of appetite, fat and glucose. Novel work demonstrates that the AMPK signaling pathway also plays a role in bone physiology. Activation of AMPK promotes bone formation in vitro and the deletion of α or β subunit of AMPK decreases bone mass in mice. Furthermore, AMPK activity in bone cells is regulated by the same hormones that regulate food intake and energy expenditure through AMPK activation in the brain and peripheral tissues. AMPK is also activated by antidiabetic drugs such as metformin and thiazolidinediones (TZDs), which also impact on skeletal metabolism. Interestingly, TZDs have detrimental skeletal side effects, causing bone loss and increasing the risk of fractures, although the role of AMPK mediation is still unclear. These data are presented in this review that also discusses the potential roles of AMPK in bone as well as the possibility for AMPK to be a future therapeutic target for intervention in osteoporosis.