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Free access

Andrei S Chagin, Elham Karimian, Katja Sundström, Emma Eriksson, and Lars Sävendahl

Children exposed to systemic glucocorticoids often exhibit growth retardation and after the cessation of therapy catch-up growth occurs in many, but not all patients. The developmental regulation and underlying cellular mechanisms of catch-up growth are not fully understood. To clarify this issue, we established an in vitro model of catch-up growth. Here we present a protocol for the long-term culture (up to 160 days) of fetal (E20) as well as postnatal (P8) rat metatarsal bones which allowed us to characterize ex vivo the phenomenon of catch-up growth without any influence by systemic factors. The relevance of the model was confirmed by the demonstration that the growth of fetal and postnatal bones were stimulated by IGF1 (100 ng/ml) and inhibited by dexamethasone (Dexa; 1 μM). We found that the capacity to undergo catch-up growth was restricted to postnatal bones. Catch-up growth occurred after postnatal bones had been exposed to Dexa for 7 or 12 days but not after a more prolonged exposure (19 days). Incomplete catch-up growth resulted in compromised bone length when assessed at the end of the 4-month period of culture. While exposure to Dexa was associated with decreased chondrocyte proliferation and differentiation, catch-up growth was only associated with increased cell proliferation. We conclude that the phenomenon of catch-up growth after Dexa treatment is intrinsic to the growth plate and primarily mediated by an upregulation of chondrocyte proliferation.

Free access

Lenneke Schrier, Sandra P Ferns, Kevin M Barnes, Joyce A M Emons, Eric I Newman, Ola Nilsson, and Jeffrey Baron

With age, the growth plate undergoes senescent changes that cause linear bone growth to slow and finally cease. Based on previous indirect evidence, we hypothesized that this senescent decline occurs because growth plate stem-like cells, located in the resting zone, have a finite proliferative capacity that is gradually depleted. Consistent with this hypothesis, we found that the proliferation rate in rabbit resting zone chondrocytes (assessed by continuous 5-bromo-2′-deoxy-uridine labeling) decreases with age, as does the number of resting zone chondrocytes per area of growth plate.

Glucocorticoid excess slows growth plate senescence. To explain this effect, we hypothesized that glucocorticoid inhibits resting zone chondrocyte proliferation, thus conserving their proliferative capacity. Consistent with this hypothesis, we found that dexamethasone treatment decreased the proliferation rate of rabbit resting zone chondrocytes and slowed the numerical depletion of these cells. Estrogen is known to accelerate growth plate senescence. However, we found that estradiol cypionate treatment slowed resting zone chondrocyte proliferation.

Our findings support the hypotheses that growth plate senescence is caused by qualitative and quantitative depletion of stem-like cells in the resting zone and that growth-inhibiting conditions, such as glucocorticoid excess, slow senescence by slowing resting zone chondrocyte proliferation and slowing the numerical depletion of these cells, thereby conserving the proliferative capacity of the growth plate. We speculate that estrogen might accelerate senescence by a proliferation-independent mechanism, or by increasing the loss of proliferative capacity per cell cycle.

Free access

Anurag Bajpai, Peter J Simm, Stephen J McPherson, Vincenzo C Russo, Walid J Azar, John D Wark, Gail P Risbridger, and George A Werther

Aromatase inhibitors have been increasingly used in boys with growth retardation to prolong the duration of growth and increase final height. Multiple important roles of oestrogen in males point to potential adverse effects of this strategy. Although the deleterious effects of aromatase deficiency in early childhood and adulthood are well documented, there is limited information about the potential long-term adverse effects of peripubertal aromatase inhibition. To address this issue, we evaluated short-term and long-term effects of peripubertal aromatase inhibition in an animal model. Peripubertal male Wistar rats were treated with aromatase inhibitor letrozole or placebo and followed until adulthood. Letrozole treatment caused sustained reduction in bone strength and alteration in skeletal geometry, lowering of IGF1 levels, inhibition of growth resulting in significantly lower weight and length of treated animals and development of focal prostatic hyperplasia. Our observation of adverse long-term effects after peripubertal male rats were exposed to aromatase inhibitors highlights the need for further characterisation of long-term adverse effects of aromatase inhibitors in peripubertal boys before further widespread use is accepted. Furthermore, this suggests the need to develop more selective oestrogen inhibition strategies in order to inhibit oestrogen action on the growth plate, while beneficial effects in other tissues are preserved.

Free access

Hiroki Saito, Tomoya Nakamachi, Kazuhiko Inoue, Ryuji Ikeda, Kazuo Kitamura, Naoto Minamino, Seiji Shioda, and Atsuro Miyata

Neuromedin B (NMB) is a mammalian bombesin-like peptide that regulates exocrine/endocrine secretion, smooth muscle contraction, body temperature, and the proliferation of some cell types. Here, we show that mRNA encoding Nmb and its receptor (Nmbr) are expressed in rat bone tissue. Immunohistochemical analysis demonstrated that NMB and NMBR colocalize in osteoblasts, epiphyseal chondrocytes, and proliferative chondrocytes of growth plates from mouse hind limbs. Then, we investigated the effect of NMB on the proliferation of rat primary cultured osteoblasts. Proliferation assays and 5-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine incorporation assays demonstrated that NMB augments the cell number and enhances DNA synthesis in osteoblasts. Pretreatment with the NMBR antagonist BIM23127 inhibited NMB-induced cell proliferation and DNA synthesis. Western blot analysis showed that NMB activates ERK1/2 MAPK signaling in osteoblasts. Pretreatment with the MAPK/ERK kinase inhibitor U0126 attenuated NMB-induced cell proliferation and DNA synthesis. We also investigated the effects of molecules that contribute to osteoblast proliferation and differentiation on N mb expression in osteoblasts. Real-time PCR analysis demonstrated that 17β-estradiol (E2) and transforming growth factor β1 increase and decrease N mb mRNA expression levels respectively. Finally, proliferation assays revealed that the NMBR antagonist BIM23127 suppresses E2-induced osteoblast proliferation. These results suggest that NMB/NMBR signaling plays an autocrine or paracrine role in osteoblast proliferation and contributes to the regulation of bone formation.

Free access

Chalida Nakalekha, Chieko Yokoyama, Hiroyuki Miura, Neil Alles, Kazuhiro Aoki, Keiichi Ohya, and Ikuo Morita

Prostaglandins (PGs) are key regulatory factors that affect bone metabolism. Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) regulates bone resorption and bone formation. Prostacyclin (PGI2) is one of the major products derived from arachidonic acid by the action of cyclooxygenase and PGI2 synthase (PGIS). Unlike PGE2, there are few reports about the role of PGI2 in bone regulation. Therefore, we investigated the potential effect of PGI2 on bone metabolism. We used PGIS knockout (PGIS−/−), PGIS heterozygous (PGIS+ /−), and wild-type mice to investigate the role of PGI2. Notably, PGIS−/− mice gradually displayed an increase in trabecular bone mass in adolescence. Adult PGIS−/− mice showed an increase in trabecular bone volume/tissue volume. Histomorphometric analysis showed that PGIS−/− mice displayed increases in both bone formation and bone resorption parameters. Levels of serum osteocalcin and C-telopeptides were increased in adult PGIS−/− mice. Furthermore, the increased bone mass patterns were rescued in PGIS/tg mice. In conclusion, adult PGIS−/− mice displayed an overall increase in the levels of both bone formation and bone resorption parameters, which suggests that PGI2 deficiency accelerates high bone turnover activity with a greater increase in bone mass in aging. These results indicated that PGI2 may contribute to the maintenance of normal bone mass and micro-architecture in mice in age-dependent manner. Our findings demonstrate for the first time that PGI2 is involved in bone metabolism in vivo.

Restricted access

A. Nilsson, B. Carlsson, J. Isgaard, O. G. P. Isaksson, and L. Rymo


Expression of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) mRNA and its dependence on GH was studied in rat epiphyseal growth plate by in-situ hybridization. Methodological aspects of the technique were first evaluated on fixed sagittal cryosections from 28-day-old rat epiphyseal growth plates to ascertain specific hybridization. In-situ hybridization was compared on sections from 10- and 28-day-old rats and the GH-dependence was studied in 35-day-old hypophysectomized rats. Expression of IGF-I mRNA was apparent in chondrocytes of the proliferative, hypertrophic and early degenerative zones of the growth plate of 28-day-old rats. The epiphyseal growth plate from 10-day-old rats showed a weak hybridization signal compared with 28-day-old rats. In contrast, the mesenchymal cells of the periosteum of 10-day-old rats showed a rather strong hybridization signal. Hypophysectomy resulted in a reduction in hybridization signal and cell number of the growth plate compared with 35-day-old age-matched normal rats. GH-Replacement therapy (200 μg human GH s.c. every 4 h for 24 h) resulted in partially restored expression of IGF-I mRNA.

The present study has shown that the IGF-I gene is expressed in the rat epiphyseal growth plate chondrocytes and that the expression is dependent on GH. The results support a paracrine/autocrine role of IGF-I for the expression of the stimulatory effect of GH on longitudinal bone growth.

Journal of Endocrinology (1990) 125, 67–74

Free access

T Yamashita, A Nifuji, K Furuya, Y Nabeshima, and M Noda

Bone diseases such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis are regarded as age-associated diseases, and occur in a significantly increasing number of patients, but the underlying mechanisms of these age-associated bone diseases are not yet clear. We have established a transgenic mouse line by an insertion mutation. These mice exhibit many features related to precocious aging. Homozygote mutant mice, which lack expression of the newly identified targeted gene,klotho (kl), exhibit atherosclerosis, emphysema, hypogonadism and calcification of soft tissues, and die within 3-4 months. We describe here the radiological and histological characteristics of the skeletal abnormalities in the bones of the mice with a mutation in the kl gene locus. In heterozygous mice (+/kl), the skeletal patterns and structures remain normal and most features are similar to those in the wild-type, whereas histological examinations of homozygous mice (kl/kl) show abnormal elongation of the trabecular bone(s) in the epiphyses of long bones. As with their long bones, on radiographic examination the mid parts of the vertebral bones of these mice show less radiopacity compared with the wild-type, again resembling human vertebrae of osteoporotic patients. The elongation of the trabecular bones results in high radiopacity on both ends of each of the vertebrae, and in the epiphyses of the long bones. Cancellous bone volume in the epiphyses of the homozygote mice is three times that of the wild-type mice. The kl/kl mice are smaller than the wild-type litter mates and hence the size of their long bones is less than that of the wild-type litter mates. These observations, and the osteopenia in the vertebrae and long bones in these mice, suggest the presence of abnormality in bone metabolism, the elongation of the trabecular bone apparently resulting from the relatively low levels of bone resorption. Therefore, thekl/kl mutant mice could serve as an interesting tool to study the effects of the lack of the product of the new gene,klotho, on bone metabolism.

Restricted access

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


We have recently found that administration of oestradiol-17β (OE2) to rats stimulates trabecular bone formation. It is not known, however, whether oestrogen has a similar action on bone formation rate under physiological circumstances. Oestrogen is known to suppress bone resorption, and oestrogen-deficient states in the rat, as in humans, are associated with an increase in bone resorption that entrains an increase in bone formation. To see if the latter masks a relative reduction in bone formation, due to oestrogen deficiency, we measured bone formation very early after ovariectomy, before the resorption-induced increase in bone formation becomes established. To do this, rats were administered fluorochrome labels before and after ovariectomy, spaced at weekly intervals in the first, and 3-day intervals in the second experiment.

In both experiments there was a decrease in indices of bone formation in the labelling interval immediately following ovariectomy such that, using the shorter fluorochrome intervals, the mineral apposition rate fell to 69%, the double-labelled surface to 45%, and the bone formation rate to 36% of sham-ovariectomized levels. The reduction was not sustained in the subsequent label intervals, presumably masked by the increase in bone formation attributable to increased resorption. These results suggest that if bone formation is assessed before this resorption-entrained increase in bone formation occurs, oestrogen deficiency is associated with a reduction in dynamic indices of bone formation. Thus, these experiments suggest that oestrogen stimulates bone formation under physiological circumstances, and that the osteopaenia that follows oestrogen deficiency may be attributable not only to an increase in bone resorption, but also to a relative deficiency in bone formation.

Journal of Endocrinology (1994) 142, 119–125

Free access

A S Chagin, D Chrysis, M Takigawa, E M Ritzen, and L Sävendahl

The importance of estrogens for the regulation of longitudinal bone growth is unequivocal. However, any local effect of estrogens in growth plate cartilage has been debated. Recently, several enzymes essential for estrogen synthesis were shown to be expressed in rat growth plate chondrocytes. Local production of 17β-estradiol (E2) has also been demonstrated in rat costal chondrocytes. We aimed to determine the functional role of locally produced estrogen in growth plate cartilage. The human chondrocyte-like cell line HCS-2/8 was used to study estrogen effects on cell proliferation (3H-labeled thymidine uptake) and apoptosis (cell death detection ELISA kit). Chondrocyte production of E2 was measured by RIA and organ cultures of fetal rat metatarsal bones were used to study the effects of estrogen on longitudinal growth rate. We found that significant amounts of E2 were produced by HCS-2/8 chondrocytes (64.1 ± 5.3 fmol/3 days/106cells). The aromatase inhibitor letrozole (1 μM) and the pure estrogen receptor antagonist ICI 182,780 (10 μM) inhibited proliferation of HCS-2/8 chondrocytes by 20% (P<0.01) and almost 50% (P<0.001), respectively. Treatment with ICI 182,780 (10 μM) increased apoptosis by 228% (P<0.05). Co-treatment with either caspase-3 or pan-caspase inhibitors completely blocked ICI 182,780-induced apoptosis (P<0.001 vs ICI 182,780 only). Moreover, both ICI 182,780 (10 μM) and letrozole (1 μM) decreased longitudinal growth of fetal rat metatarsal bones after 7 days of culture (P<0.01). In conclusion, our data clearly show that chondrocytes endogenously produce E2 and that locally produced estrogen stimulates chondrocyte proliferation and protects from spontaneous apoptosis. In addition, longitudinal growth is promoted by estrogens locally produced within the epiphyseal growth plate.

Free access

Dimitrios Agas, Guilherme Gusmão Silva, Fulvio Laus, Andrea Marchegiani, Melania Capitani, Cecilia Vullo, Giuseppe Catone, Giovanna Lacava, Antonio Concetti, Luigi Marchetti, and Maria Giovanna Sabbieti

IFN-γ is a pleotropic cytokine produced in the bone microenvironment. Although IFN-γ is known to play a critical role on bone remodeling, its function is not fully elucidated. Consistently, outcomes on the effects of IFN-γ recombinant protein on bone loss are contradictory among reports. In our work we explored, for the first time, the role of IFN-γ encoding plasmid (pIFN-γ) in a mouse model of osteopenia induced by ovariectomy and in the sham-operated counterpart to estimate its effects in skeletal homeostasis. Ovariectomy produced a dramatic decrease of bone mineral density (BMD). pINF-γ injected mice showed a pathologic bone and bone marrow phenotype; the disrupted cortical and trabecular bone microarchitecture was accompanied by an increased release of pro-inflammatory cytokine by bone marrow cells. Moreover, mesenchymal stem cells’ (MSCs) commitment to osteoblast was found impaired, as evidenced by the decline of osterix-positive (Osx+) cells within the mid-diaphyseal area of femurs. For instance, a reduction and redistribution of CXCL12 cells have been found, in accordance with bone marrow morphological alterations. As similar effects were observed both in sham-operated and in ovariectomized mice, our studies proved that an increased IFN-γ synthesis in bone marrow might be sufficient to induce inflammatory and catabolic responses even in the absence of pathologic predisposing substrates. In addition, the obtained data might raise questions about pIFN-γ’s safety when it is used as vaccine adjuvant.