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Guillaume Mabilleau, Marie Pereira, and Chantal Chenu

Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) leads to bone fragility and predisposes to increased risk of fracture, poor bone healing and other skeletal complications. In addition, some anti-diabetic therapies for T2DM can have notable detrimental skeletal effects. Thus, an appropriate therapeutic strategy for T2DM should not only be effective in re-establishing good glycaemic control but also in minimising skeletal complications. There is increasing evidence that glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1RAs), now greatly prescribed for the treatment of T2DM, have beneficial skeletal effects although the underlying mechanisms are not completely understood. This review provides an overview of the direct and indirect effects of GLP-1RAs on bone physiology, focusing on bone quality and novel mechanisms of action on the vasculature and hormonal regulation. The overall experimental studies indicate significant positive skeletal effects of GLP-1RAs on bone quality and strength although their mechanisms of actions may differ according to various GLP-1RAs and clinical studies supporting their bone protective effects are still lacking. The possibility that GLP-1RAs could improve blood supply to bone, which is essential for skeletal health, is of major interest and suggests that GLP-1 anti-diabetic therapy could benefit the rising number of elderly T2DM patients with osteoporosis and high fracture risk.

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Shan-Jin Wang, Xin-Feng Li, Lei-Sheng Jiang, and Li-Yang Dai

Regulation of the physiological processes of endochondral bone formation during long bone growth is controlled by various factors including the hormones estrogen and leptin. The effects of estrogen are mediated not only through the direct activity of estrogen receptors (ERs) but also through cross talk with other signaling systems implicated in chondrogenesis. The receptors of both estrogen and leptin (OBR (LEPR)) are detectable in growth plate chondrocytes of all zones. In this study, the expression of mRNA and protein of OBR in chondrogenic ATDC5 cells and the effect of 17β-estradiol (E2) stimulation were assessed using quantitative PCR and western blotting. We have found that the mRNA of Obr was dynamically expressed during the differentiation of ATDC5 cells over 21 days. Application of E2 (10−7 M) at day 14 for 48 h significantly upregulated OBR mRNA and protein levels (P<0.05). The upregulation of Obr mRNA by E2 was shown to take place in a concentration-dependent manner, with a concentration of 10−7 M E2 having the greatest effect. Furthermore, we have confirmed that E2 affected the phosphorylation of ERK1/2 (MAPK1/MAPK3) in a time-dependent manner where a maximal fourfold change was observed at 10 min following application of E2. Finally, pretreatment of the cells with either U0126 (ERK1/2 inhibitor) or ICI 182 780 (ER antagonist) blocked the upregulation of OBR by E2 and prevented the E2-induced phosphorylation of ERK. These data demonstrate, for the first time, the existence of cross talk between estrogen and OBR in the regulation of bone growth whereby estrogen regulates the expression of Obr in growth plate chondrocytes via ERs and the activation of ERK1/2 signaling pathways.

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D Swolin-Eide, J Dahlgren, C Nilsson, K Albertsson Wikland, A Holmang, and C Ohlsson

Events occurring early in life or prenatally are able to play important roles in the pathogenesis of diseases in adult life. Different sorts of stress or hormonal influences, during particular periods of pregnancy, may result in persisting or transient changes in physiology. Glucocorticoids are used for the treatment of a variety of diseases, to promote organ maturation and to prevent preterm delivery. Glucocorticoids are also known to affect skeletal growth and adult bone metabolism. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether exposure to dexamethasone (Dex) during fetal life has any effect on skeletal growth and/or bone mineral density in adult rat offspring. Pregnant rats were given injections of either Dex (100 micro g/kg) or vehicle on days 9, 11 and 13 of gestation. Dex-exposed male but not female rat offspring showed transient increases in crown-rump length and tibia and femur lengths at 3-6 weeks of age. In contrast, the cortical bone dimensions were altered in 12-week-old female but not male Dex-exposed offspring. The areal bone mineral densities of the long bones and the spine, as determined by dual X-ray absorptiometry, and trabecular as well as cortical volumetric bone mineral density, as measured using peripheral quantitative computerized tomography, were unchanged in both male and female Dex-exposed offspring. In conclusion, prenatal Dex exposure affects skeletal growth in a gender-specific manner, while the mineralization of bones is unaffected in both male and female offspring.

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Rhonda D Prisby, Joshua M Swift, Susan A Bloomfield, Harry A Hogan, and Michael D Delp

Osteopenia and an enhanced risk of fracture often accompany type 1 diabetes. However, the association between type 2 diabetes and bone mass has been ambiguous with reports of enhanced, reduced, or similar bone mineral densities (BMDs) when compared with healthy individuals. Recently, studies have also associated type 2 diabetes with increased fracture risk even in the presence of higher BMDs. To determine the temporal relationship between type 2 diabetes and bone remodeling structural and mechanical properties at various bone sites were analyzed during pre-diabetes (7 weeks), short-term (13 weeks), and long-term (20 weeks) type 2 diabetes. BMDs and bone strength were measured in the femora and tibiae of Zucker diabetic fatty rats, a model of human type 2 diabetes. Increased BMDs (9–10%) were observed in the distal femora, proximal tibiae, and tibial mid- shafts in the pre-diabetic condition that corresponded with higher plasma insulin levels. During short- and long-term type 2 diabetes, various parameters of bone strength and BMDs were lower (9–26%) in the femoral neck, distal femora, proximal tibiae, and femoral and tibial mid-shafts. Correspondingly, blood glucose levels increased by 125% and 153% during short- and long-term diabetes respectively. These data indicate that alterations in BMDs and bone mechanical properties are closely associated with the onset of hyperinsulinemia and hyperglycemia, which may have direct adverse effects on skeletal tissue. Consequently, disparities in the human literature regarding the effects of type 2 diabetes on skeletal properties may be associated with the bone sites studied and the severity or duration of the disease in the patient population studied.

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Rana Samadfam, Malaika Awori, Agnes Bénardeau, Frieder Bauss, Elena Sebokova, Matthew Wright, and Susan Y Smith

Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) γ agonists, such as pioglitazone (Pio), improve glycemia and lipid profile but are associated with bone loss and fracture risk. Data regarding bone effects of PPARα agonists (including fenofibrate (Feno)) are limited, although animal studies suggest that Feno may increase bone mass. This study investigated the effects of a 13-week oral combination treatment with Pio (10 mg/kg per day)+Feno (25 mg/kg per day) on body composition and bone mass parameters compared with Pio or Feno alone in adult ovariectomized (OVX) rats, with a 4-week bone depletion period, followed by a 6-week treatment-free period. Treatment of OVX rats with Pio+Feno resulted in ∼50% lower fat mass gain compared with Pio treatment alone. Combination treatment with Pio+Feno partially prevented Pio-induced loss of bone mineral content (∼45%) and bone mineral density (BMD; ∼60%) at the lumbar spine. Similar effects of treatments were observed at the femur, most notably at sites rich in trabecular bone. At the proximal tibial metaphysis, concomitant treatment with Pio+Feno prevented Pio exacerbation of ovariectomy-induced loss of trabecular bone, resulting in BMD values in the Pio+Feno group comparable to OVX controls. Discontinuation of Pio or Feno treatment of OVX rats was associated with partial reversal of effects on bone loss or bone mass gain, respectively, while values in the Pio+Feno group remained comparable to OVX controls. These data suggest that concurrent/dual agonism of PPARγ and PPARα may reduce the negative effects of PPARγ agonism on bone mass.

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J. H. Tobias and T. J. Chambers


While the osteopenia associated with oestrogen deficiency is thought to arise from a relative defect in bone formation with respect to resorption, oestrogen administration itself leads to a decrease, rather than an increase, in bone formation. This decrease in bone formation, which arises from oestrogen's inhibitory effect on bone turnover, presumably masks any underlying tendency of oestrogen treatment towards stimulation of bone formation. To investigate this further, we have examined the early effect of discontinuing the administration of oestradiol-17β (OE2; 40 μg/kg on bone formation indices in ovariectomized 13-week-old rats, before the turnover-induced increase in formation occurs. Histomorphometric indices were assessed at the proximal tibial metaphysis 0, 7, 10, 13 and 16 days following discontinuation of OE2 treatment. Measurements of body weight, uterine weight and longitudinal growth rate confirmed that there were rapid effects of OE2 deficiency on these parameters.

We could detect no significant increase in bone resorption, as measured by osteoclast surface and number, until 16 days after ending treatment with OE2; this was coincidental with a reduction in bone volume. Shorter periods of OE2 deficiency were associated with a marked decrease in bone formation, as assessed by dynamic histomorphometric indices. This inhibition of bone formation was largely due to a reduction in double fluorochrome-labelled trabecular surfaces, which were decreased by approximately 70%. We conclude that ending OE2 administration in ovariectomized rats caused a striking decrease in trabecular bone formation, if such indices are assessed prior to the subsequent turnover-induced increase in formation. This suggests that oestrogen treatment in ovariectomized rats is associated with a stimulatory effect on bone formation, in addition to its recognized anti-resorptive action.

Journal of Endocrinology (1993) 137, 497–503

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T. Kurabayashi, T. Fujimaki, M. Yasuda, Y. Yamamoto, and K. Tanaka


This study was carried out (1) to compare the time-course of the change in bone metabolism in rats administered gonadotrophin-releasing hormone agonist (GnRHa) and bilaterally ovariectomized (OVX) rats and (2) to investigate the changes in bone metabolism after discontinuance of GnRHa.

Seventy female Sprague–Dawley rats, aged 90 days, were divided into four groups. Group 1 underwent a sham operation, group 2 was surgically ovariectomized and group 3 was given a GnRHa (leuprorelin acetate for depot suspension) s.c. injection every 30 days. Group 3 was further divided into three subgroups: rats were administered GnRHa for 12 months (GnRHa 12M), 6 months (GnRHa 6M) or 3 months (GnRHa 3M). Group 4 served as a basal control. The bone mineral density (BMD) of lumbar vertebrae and femoral bone, measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, and the serum bone metabolic parameters were determined every 45–90 days. The bone histomorphometry of lumbar vertebra was measured on days 180 and 360 after surgery.

GnRHa 12M rats showed significantly lower BMD of vertebrae and femoral bone, lower bone volume and higher bone turnover compared with sham-operated rats and those with secondary hyperparathyroidism on days 180 and 360. Their time-course for changes in bone metabolism was almost the same as that of OVX rats. GnRHa-discontinued rats showed a recovery of bone turnover. The recovery of BMD in GnRHa 6M rats was smaller than that of GnRHa 3M rats after GnRHa discontinuance. The bone volume for GnRHa 6M rats was significantly lower than that for GnRHa 3M on day 360.

Journal of Endocrinology (1993) 138, 115–125

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S Boonen, J Aerssens, and J Dequeker


Osteoporosis is a systemic skeletal disease characterized by low bone mass and microarchitectural deterioration of bone tissue, with a consequent increase in bone fragility and susceptibility to fracture (Peck et al. 1993). Type I (postmenopausal) osteoporosis is characterized by a disproportionate postmenopausal trabecular bone loss in a subset of women and complicated by vertebral compression fractures. Type II (senile) osteoporosis, on the other hand, is associated with a proportionate age-related loss of both cortical and trabecular bone, in men as well as in women, ultimately leading to hip fractures (Riggs & Melton 1983). Fractures of the proximal femur in the elderly represent a global issue, associated with significant morbidity and mortality (Cummings et al. 1985, Maggi et al. 1991, Mander & Lindahl 1993, Melton 1993). The cumulative incidence of hip fractures reaches 33% in women and 17% in men by 90 years of age (Melton et al. 1992). However

Free access

JM Kindblom, O Nilsson, T Hurme, C Ohlsson, and L Savendahl

Indian Hedgehog (Ihh) has been reported to control the rate of cartilage differentiation during skeletal morphogenesis in rodents through a negative feedback loop involving parathyroid hormone related protein (PTHrP). The role of Ihh and PTHrP in the regulation of human epiphyseal chondrocytes is unknown. The aim of the current study was to examine the expression and localization of Ihh and PTHrP in the human growth plate at various pubertal stages. Growth plate biopsies were obtained from patients subjected to epiphyseal surgery and the expression of Ihh and PTHrP was detected by immunohistochemistry. We show that Ihh and PTHrP are expressed mainly in early hypertrophic chondrocytes in the human growth plate. The levels of expression of Ihh and PTHrP are higher in early stages of puberty than later. Our results suggest that Ihh and PTHrP are present in the human growth plate and that Ihh and PTHrP may be involved in the regulation of pubertal growth in humans.

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M Alexandra Sorocéanu, Dengshun Miao, Xiu-Ying Bai, Hanyi Su, David Goltzman, and Andrew C Karaplis

Thiazolidinediones (TZDs) increase peripheral tissue insulin sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus by activating the nuclear receptor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ). In bone marrow stromal cell cultures and in vivo, activation of PPARγ by high doses (20 mg/kg/day) of TZDs has been reported to alter stem cell differentiation by promoting commitment of progenitor cells to the adipocytic lineage while inhibiting osteoblastogenesis. Here, we have examined the in vivo effects of low-dose rosiglitazone (3 mg/kg/day) on bone, administered to mice by gavage for 90 days. Rosiglitazone-treated mice had increased weight when compared with controls, with no significant alterations in serum levels of glucose, calcium or parathyroid hormone (PTH). Bone mineral density (BMD) at the lumbar vertebrae (L1–L4), ilium/sacrum, and total body was diminished by rosiglitazone treatment. Histologically, bone was characterized by decreased trabecular bone volume and increased marrow space with no significant change in bone marrow adipocity. Decreased osteoblast number and activity due to increased apoptotic death of osteoblasts and osteocytes was apparent while osteoclast parameters and serum levels of osteocalcin, alkaline phosphatase activity, and leptin were unaltered by rosiglitazone treatment. Therefore, the imbalance in bone remodeling that follows rosiglitazone administration arises from increased apoptotic death of osteogenic cells and diminished bone formation leading to the observed decrease in trabecular bone volume and BMD. These novel in vivo effects of TZDs on bone are of clinical relevance as patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus and other insulin resistant states treated with these agents may potentially be at increased risk of osteoporosis.