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Free access

Richard Eastell

The rise in oestrogen levels at menarche in girls is associated with a large reduction in bone turnover markers. This reduction reflects the closure of the epiphyseal growth plates, the reduction in periosteal apposition and endosteal resorption within cortical bone, and in bone remodelling within cortical and cancellous bone. Oestrogen promotes these changes, in part, by promoting apoptosis of chondrocytes in the growth plate and osteoclasts within cortical and cancellous bone. The period of early puberty is associated with an increased risk of fracture, particularly of the distal forearm, and this may be related to the high rate of bone turnover. A late menarche is a consistent risk factor for fracture and low bone mineral density in the postmenopausal period; models that might explain this association are considered.

Free access

E J Mackie, L Tatarczuch, and M Mirams

Endochondral ossification is the process that results in both the replacement of the embryonic cartilaginous skeleton during organogenesis and the growth of long bones until adult height is achieved. Chondrocytes play a central role in this process, contributing to longitudinal growth through a combination of proliferation, extracellular matrix (ECM) secretion and hypertrophy. Terminally differentiated hypertrophic chondrocytes then die, allowing the invasion of a mixture of cells that collectively replace the cartilage tissue with bone tissue. The behaviour of growth plate chondrocytes is tightly regulated at all stages of endochondral ossification by a complex network of interactions between circulating hormones (including GH and thyroid hormone), locally produced growth factors (including Indian hedgehog, WNTs, bone morphogenetic proteins and fibroblast growth factors) and the components of the ECM secreted by the chondrocytes (including collagens, proteoglycans, thrombospondins and matrilins). In turn, chondrocytes secrete factors that regulate the behaviour of the invading bone cells, including vascular endothelial growth factor and receptor activator of NFκB ligand. This review discusses how the growth plate chondrocyte contributes to endochondral ossification, with some emphasis on recent advances.

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

E A Parker, A Hegde, M Buckley, K M Barnes, J Baron, and O Nilsson

Previous studies of the GH–IGF system gene expression in growth plate using immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization have yielded conflicting results. We therefore studied the spatial and temporal patterns of mRNA expression of the GH–IGF system in the rat proximal tibial growth plate quantitatively. Growth plates were microdissected into individual zones. RNA was extracted, reverse transcribed and analyzed by real-time PCR. In 1-week-old animals, IGF-I mRNA expression was minimal in growth plate compared with perichondrium, metaphyseal bone, muscle, and liver (70-, 130-, 215-, and 400-fold less). In contrast, IGF-II mRNA was expressed at higher levels than in bone and liver (65- and 2-fold). IGF-II expression was higher in the proliferative and resting zones compared with the hypertrophic zone (P < 0.001). GH receptor and type 1 and 2 IGF receptors were expressed throughout the growth plate. Expression of IGF-binding proteins (IGFBPs)-1 through -6 mRNA was low throughout the growth plate compared with perichondrium and bone. With increasing age (3-, 6-, 9-, and 12-week castrated rats), IGF-I mRNA levels increased in the proliferative zone (PZ) but remained at least tenfold lower than levels in perichondrium and bone. IGF-II mRNA decreased dramatically in PZ (780-fold; P < 0.001) whereas, type 2 IGF receptor and IGFBP-1, IGFBP-2, IGFBP-3, and IGFBP-4 increased significantly with age in growth plate and/or surrounding perichondrium and bone. These data suggest that IGF-I protein in the growth plate is not produced primarily by the chondrocytes themselves. Instead, it derives from surrounding perichondrium and bone. In addition, the decrease in growth velocity that occurs with age may be caused, in part, by decreasing expression of IGF-II and increasing expression of type 2 IGF receptor and multiple IGFBPs.

Free access

Maryam Iravani, Marie Lagerquist, Claes Ohlsson, and Lars Sävendahl

Estrogens are well known for their capacity to promote bone maturation and at high doses to induce growth plate closure and thereby stop further growth. High-dose estrogen treatment has therefore been used to limit growth in extremely tall girls. However, recent data suggest that this treatment may have severe side effects, including increased risk of cancer and reduced fertility. We hypothesized that estrogenic effects in bone are mediated via ERα signaling. Twelve-week-old ovariectomized female C57BL/6 mice were subcutaneously injected for 4 weeks with E2 or selective ERα (PPT) or ERβ (DPN) agonists. After killing, tibia and femur lengths were measured, and growth plate morphology was analyzed. E2- and PPT-treated mice had shorter tibiae and femur bones when compared to vehicle-treated controls, whereas animals treated with DPN had similar bone lengths compared to controls. Growth plate height and hypertrophic zone height were reduced in animals treated with E2 or PPT but not in those treated with DPN, supporting that the effect was mediated via ERα. Moreover, PCNA staining revealed suppressed proliferation of chondrocytes in the tibia growth plate in PPT- or E2-treated mice compared to controls. Our data show that estrogenic effects on bone growth and growth plate maturation are mainly mediated via ERα. Our findings may have direct implications for the development of new and more selective treatment modalities of extreme tall stature using selective estrogen receptor modulators that may have low side effects than high-dose E2 treatment.

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

Joyce Emons, Andrei S Chagin, Torun Malmlöf, Magnus Lekman, Åsa Tivesten, Claes Ohlsson, Jan M Wit, Marcel Karperien, and Lars Sävendahl

Longitudinal bone growth is regulated in the growth plate. At the end of puberty, growth velocity diminishes and eventually ceases with the fusion of the growth plate through mechanisms that are not yet completely understood. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has an important role in angiogenesis, but also in chondrocyte differentiation, chondrocyte survival, and the final stages of endochondral ossification. Estrogens have been shown to up-regulate VEGF expression in the uterus and bone of rats. In this study, we investigated the relation between estrogens and VEGF production in growth plate chondrocytes both in vivo and in vitro. The expression of VEGF protein was down-regulated upon ovariectomy and was restored upon estradiol (E2) supplementation in rat growth plates. In cultured rat chondrocyte cell line RCJ3.1C5.18, E2 dose dependently stimulated 121 and 189 kDa isoforms of VEGF, but not the 164 kDa isoform. Finally, VEGF expression was observed at both protein and mRNA levels in human growth plate specimens. The protein level increased during pubertal development, supporting a link between estrogens and local VEGF production in the growth plate. We conclude that estrogens regulate VEGF expression in the epiphyseal growth plate, although the precise role of VEGF in estrogen-mediated growth plate fusion remains to be clarified.

Free access

Rosa Chung, Bruce K Foster, and Cory J Xian

Growth plate injuries often result in undesirable bony repair causing bone growth defects, for which the underlying mechanisms are unclear. Whilst the key importance of pro-angiogenic vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is well-known in bone development and fracture repair, its role during growth plate bony repair remains unexplored. Using a rat tibial growth plate injury repair model with anti-VEGF antibody, Bevacizumab, as a single i.p. injection (2.5 mg/kg) after injury, this study examined the roles of VEGF-driven angiogenesis during growth plate bony repair. Histology analyses observed isolectin-B4-positive endothelial cells and blood vessel-like structures within the injury site on days 6 and 14, with anti-VEGF treatment significantly decreasing blood-vessel-like structures within the injury site (P<0.05). Compared with untreated controls, anti-VEGF treatment resulted in an increase in undifferentiated mesenchymal repair tissue, but decreased bony tissue at the injury site at day 14 (P<0.01). Consistently, microcomputed tomography analysis of the injury site showed significantly decreased bony repair tissue after treatment (P<0.01). RT-PCR analyses revealed a significant decrease in osteocalcin (P<0.01) and a decreasing trend in Runx2 expression at the injury site following treatment. Furthermore, growth plate injury-induced reduced tibial lengthening was more pronounced in anti-VEGF-treated injured rats on day 60, consistent with the observation of a significantly increased height of the hypertrophic zone adjacent to the growth plate injury site (P<0.05). These results indicate that VEGF is important for angiogenesis and formation of bony repair tissue at the growth plate injury site as well as for endochondral bone lengthening function of the uninjured growth plate.

Free access

Thomas M Braxton, Dionne E A Sarpong, Janine L Dovey, Anne Guillou, Bronwen A J Evans, Juan M Castellano, Bethany E Keenan, Saja Baraghithy, Sam L Evans, Manuel Tena-Sempere, Patrice Mollard, Joseph Tam, and Timothy Wells

Human Prader–Willi syndrome (PWS) is characterised by impairments of multiple systems including the growth hormone (GH) axis and skeletal growth. To address our lack of knowledge of the influence of PWS on skeletal integrity in mice, we have characterised the endocrine and skeletal phenotype of the PWS-ICdel mouse model for ‘full’ PWS and determined the impact of thermoneutrality. Tibial length, epiphyseal plate width and marrow adiposity were reduced by 6, 18 and 79% in male PWS-ICdel mice, with osteoclast density being unaffected. Similar reductions in femoral length accompanied a 32% reduction in mid-diaphyseal cortical diameter. Distal femoral Tb.N was reduced by 62%, with individual trabeculae being less plate-like and the lattice being more fragmented (Tb.Pf increased by 63%). Cortical strength (ultimate moment) was reduced by 26% as a result of reductions in calcified tissue strength and the geometric contribution. GH and prolactin contents in PWS-ICdel pituitaries were reduced in proportion to their smaller pituitary size, with circulating IGF-1 concentration reduced by 37–47%. Conversely, while pituitary luteinising hormone content was halved, circulating gonadotropin concentrations were unaffected. Although longitudinal growth, marrow adiposity and femoral geometry were unaffected by thermoneutrality, strengthened calcified tissue reversed the weakened cortex of PWS-ICdel femora. While underactivity of the GH axis may be due to loss of Snord116 expression and impaired limb bone geometry and strength due to loss of Magel2 expression, comprehensive analysis of skeletal integrity in the single gene deletion models is required. Our data imply that thermoneutrality may ameliorate the elevated fracture risk associated with PWS.