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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Russell T Turner, Kenneth A Philbrick, Carmen P Wong, Dawn A Olson, Adam J Branscum and Urszula T Iwaniec

Leptin-deficient ob/ob mice are morbidly obese and exhibit low total bone mass and mild osteopetrosis. In order to disassociate the skeletal effects of leptin deficiency from those associated with morbid obesity, we evaluated bone mass, architecture, gene expression, and indices of bone turnover in WT mice, ob/ob mice allowed to feed ad libitum (ob/ob), and ob/ob mice pair-fed equivalent to WT mice (pair-fed ob/ob). Mice were maintained at 32 °C (thermoneutral) from 6 to 18 weeks of age to minimize differences in resting energy expenditure. ob/ob mice were heavier, had more abdominal white adipose tissue (WAT), and were hyperglycemic compared with WT mice. Femur length, bone mineral content (BMC) and bone mineral density, and midshaft femur cortical thickness were lower in ob/ob mice than in WT mice. Cancellous bone volume (BV) fraction was higher but indices of bone formation and resorption were lower in ob/ob mice compared with WT mice; reduced bone resorption in ob/ob mice resulted in pathological retention of calcified cartilage. Pair-fed ob/ob mice were lighter and had lower WAT, uterine weight, and serum glucose than ob/ob mice. Similarly, femoral length, BMC, and cortical thickness were lower in pair-fed ob/ob mice compared with ob/ob mice, as were indices of cancellous bone formation and resorption. In contrast, bone marrow adiposity, calcified cartilage, and cancellous BV fraction were higher at one or more cancellous sites in pair-fed ob/ob mice compared with ob/ob mice. These findings indicate that the skeletal abnormalities caused by leptin deficiency are markedly attenuated in morbidly obese ob/ob mice.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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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.