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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.

Free access

Zuzana Saidak, Carole Le Henaff, Sofia Azzi, Caroline Marty, and Pierre J Marie

Intermittent administration of parathyroid hormone (PTH) 1–34 at a standard dose has been shown to induce anabolic effects in bone. However, whether low-dose PTH promotes bone formation during senescence is unknown. To address this issue, we determined the effects of low-dose PTH and analysed the underlying mechanisms in prematurely senescent mice that display osteopenia. Treatment of 9-week-old Samp6 mice for 6 weeks with PTH at a standard dose (100 μg/kg per day) increased vertebral and femoral bone mass and improved bone microarchitecture as a result of increased bone-forming surfaces and mineral apposition rate (MAR). At a tenfold lower dose (10 μg/kg per day), PTH increased axial bone volume and trabecular thickness, as detected by bone histomorphometry but not by micro-computed tomography analysis. This anabolic effect resulted from increased osteoblast activity, as reflected by increased serum N-terminal propeptide of type 1 procollagen (P1NP) levels and MAR, with unchanged bone-forming surface or osteoblast surface. Mechanistically, low-dose PTH increased the expression of osteoblast markers in bone marrow stromal cells and mature osteoblasts, which was associated with increased expression of the Wnt effector Wisp1. Moreover, low-dose PTH decreased the expression of the Mef2c transcription factor, resulting in decreased Sost expression in osteoblasts/osteocytes. These results indicate that PTH at a low dose is effective at promoting bone formation and increased bone volume in senescent osteopenic mice through increased osteoblast activity and modulation of specific Wnt effectors, which raises the potential therapeutic use of intermittent PTH at low dose to increase bone forming activity and bone mass in skeletal senescence.

Free access

Ghania Ramdani, Nadine Schall, Hema Kalyanaraman, Nisreen Wahwah, Sahar Moheize, Jenna J Lee, Robert L Sah, Alexander Pfeifer, Darren E Casteel, and Renate B Pilz

NO/cGMP signaling is important for bone remodeling in response to mechanical and hormonal stimuli, but the downstream mediator(s) regulating skeletal homeostasis are incompletely defined. We generated transgenic mice expressing a partly-activated, mutant cGMP-dependent protein kinase type 2 (PKG2R242Q) under control of the osteoblast-specific Col1a1 promoter to characterize the role of PKG2 in post-natal bone formation. Primary osteoblasts from these mice showed a two- to three-fold increase in basal and total PKG2 activity; they proliferated faster and were resistant to apoptosis compared to cells from WT mice. Male Col1a1-Prkg2 R242Q transgenic mice had increased osteoblast numbers, bone formation rates and Wnt/β-catenin-related gene expression in bone and a higher trabecular bone mass compared to their WT littermates. Streptozotocin-induced type 1 diabetes suppressed bone formation and caused rapid bone loss in WT mice, but male transgenic mice were protected from these effects. Surprisingly, we found no significant difference in bone micro-architecture or Wnt/β-catenin-related gene expression between female WT and transgenic mice; female mice of both genotypes showed higher systemic and osteoblastic NO/cGMP generation compared to their male counterparts, and a higher level of endogenous PKG2 activity may be responsible for masking effects of the PKG2R242Q transgene in females. Our data support sexual dimorphism in Wnt/β-catenin signaling and PKG2 regulation of this crucial pathway in bone homeostasis. This work establishes PKG2 as a key regulator of osteoblast proliferation and post-natal bone formation.

Restricted access

L. Cancela, P. J. Marie, N. Le Boulch, and L. Miravet


Mineral, hormonal and skeletal changes were determined in vitamin D-deficient (−D) and vitamin Dreplete (+D) mother rats and in their litters on day 20 of lactation. These results were compared with those obtained in −D mothers and pups, after giving the mothers an oral supplement (10 i.u. vitamin D3/day) during the period of lactation (20 days). Compared to +D animals, both −D lactating mothers and their pups exhibited extremely low plasma levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25-OH-D3), diminished 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25(OH)2D3) and increased levels of immunoreactive parathyroid hormone (iPTH). Vitamin D-deficient mothers also had higher levels of calcitonin and lower levels of prolactin than +D mothers. All − D animals (mothers and pups) showed increased osteoclastic bone resorption and severe osteomalacia as shown by decreased bone ash, decreased calcification rate and increased endosteal osteoid surface, volume and thickness. In mothers treated with vitamin D3 during lactation, nearly all the plasma variables measured, as well as bone histomorphometric features, were normal. In contrast, their pups still showed rickets and osteomalacia, despite normal levels of 25-OH-D3 and calcium in the plasma. These pups had raised plasma levels of 1,25(OH)2D3 and iPTH associated with persistent stimulation of bone resorption. This study showed that (1) severe vitamin D deficiency in lactating rats produced marked osteomalacia and secondary hyperparathyroidism in both mothers and pups, and (2) vitamin D treatment of − D mother rats during lactation (10 i.u. vitamin D3/day) reversed the mineral, hormonal and skeletal abnormalities in mothers but not in pups.

J. Endocr. (1985) 105, 303–309

Restricted access

J Aerssens, S Boonen, J Joly, and J Dequeker

Skeletal site-related differences in trabecular bone composition have been studied in autopsy samples from 63 individuals (age range 23-92 years). From each individual, bone samples were excised from the iliac crest, lumbar spine, femoral neck, and calcaneus. Samples were analyzed for their content of ash, calcium, collagen, extractable proteins, osteocalcin, and IGF-I. Significant differences were found between the skeletal sites, the lumbar spine being the least mineralized site and the femur the most. The femur and lumbar spine had a higher osteocalcin and IGF-I content compared with the other skeletal sites, suggesting a higher bone turnover rate. The intercorrelations between the anatomical sites were low for minerals and collagen but high for osteocalcin and IGF-I. The latter might indicate that the presence of these proteins in the bone matrix is mainly controlled by endocrine mechanisms which may influence the osteoblast function. Finally, regression analysis showed a significant age-related decrease of skeletal IGF-I at all sites examined. This finding supports the hypothesis of an IGF-I-mediated pathogenesis of senile osteoporosis. In summary, our data imply that a global assessment of skeletal function and bone quality, based upon analyses at one anatomical site, should be applied with caution.

Free access

Rhonda D Prisby

Bone tissue is highly vascularized due to the various roles bone blood vessels play in bone and bone marrow function. For example, the vascular system is critical for bone development, maintenance and repair and provides O2, nutrients, waste elimination, systemic hormones and precursor cells for bone remodeling. Further, bone blood vessels serve as egress and ingress routes for blood and immune cells to and from the bone marrow. It is becoming increasingly clear that the vascular and skeletal systems are intimately linked in metabolic regulation and physiological and pathological processes. This review examines how agents such as mechanical loading, parathyroid hormone, estrogen, vitamin D and calcitonin, all considered anabolic for bone, have tremendous impacts on the bone vasculature. In fact, these agents influence bone blood vessels prior to influencing bone. Further, data reveal strong associations between vasodilator capacity of bone blood vessels and trabecular bone volume, and poor associations between estrogen status and uterine mass and trabecular bone volume. Additionally, this review highlights the importance of the bone microcirculation, particularly the vascular endothelium and NO-mediated signaling, in the regulation of bone blood flow, bone interstitial fluid flow and pressure and the paracrine signaling of bone cells. Finally, the vascular endothelium as a mediator of bone health and disease is considered.

Free access

Jonathan J Nicholls, Mary Jane Brassill, Graham R Williams, and J H Duncan Bassett

Euthyroid status is essential for normal skeletal development and the maintenance of adult bone structure and strength. Established thyrotoxicosis has long been recognised as a cause of high bone turnover osteoporosis and fracture but more recent studies have suggested that subclinical hyperthyroidism and long-term suppressive doses of thyroxine (T4) may also result in decreased bone mineral density (BMD) and an increased risk of fragility fracture, particularly in postmenopausal women. Furthermore, large population studies of euthyroid individuals have demonstrated that a hypothalamic–pituitary–thyroid axis set point at the upper end of the normal reference range is associated with reduced BMD and increased fracture susceptibility. Despite these findings, the cellular and molecular mechanisms of thyroid hormone action in bone remain controversial and incompletely understood. In this review, we discuss the role of thyroid hormones in bone and the skeletal consequences of hyperthyroidism.

Free access

TL Stewart and SH Ralston

Osteoporosis is a common disease with a strong genetic component characterised by low bone mass, microarchitectural deterioration of bone tissue and an increased risk of fracture. Twin and family studies have shown that genetic factors play an important role in regulating bone mineral density and other determinants of osteoporotic fracture risk, such as ultrasound properties of bone, skeletal geometry and bone turnover. Osteoporosis is a polygenic disorder, determined by the effects of several genes, each with relatively modest effects on bone mass and other determinants of fracture risk. It is only on rare occasions that osteoporosis occurs as the result of mutations in a single gene. Linkage studies in man and experimental animals have defined multiple loci which regulate bone mass but the genes responsible for these effects remain to be defined. Population-based studies and case-control studies have similarly identified polymorphisms in several candidate genes that have been associated with bone mass or osteoporotic fracture, including the vitamin D receptor, oestrogen receptor and collagen type IalphaI gene. The individual contribution of these genes to the pathogenesis of osteoporosis is small however, reflected by the fact that the relationship between individual candidate genes and osteoporosis has been inconsistent in different studies. An important aim of future work will be to define how the genes which regulate bone mass, bone turnover and other aspects of bone metabolism interact with each other and with environmental variables to cause osteoporosis in individual patients. If that aim can be achieved then there is every prospect that preventative therapy could be targeted to those at greatest risk of the osteoporosis, before fractures have occurred.

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.