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T Hirayama, A Sabokbar, and NA Athanasou

Chronic corticosteroid treatment is known to induce bone loss and osteoporosis. Osteoclasts are specialised bone-resorbing cells that are formed from mononuclear phagocyte precursors that circulate in the monocyte fraction. In this study we have examined the effect of the synthetic glucocorticoid, dexamethasone, on human osteoclast formation and bone-resorbing activity. Human monocytes were cultured for up to 21 days on glass coverslips and dentine slices, with soluble receptor activator for nuclear factor kappaB ligand (RANKL; 30 ng/ml) and human macrophage-colony stimulating factor (M-CSF; 25 ng/ml) in the presence and absence of dexamethasone (10(-8) M). The addition of dexamethasone over a period of 7 and 14 days of culture of monocytes (during which cell proliferation and differentiation predominantly occurred) resulted in a marked increase in the formation of tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase-positive multinucleated cells and an increase in lacunar resorption. The addition of dexamethasone to monocyte cultures after 14 days (when resorptive activity of osteoclasts had commenced) reduced the extent of lacunar resorption compared with cultures to which no dexamethasone had been added. The addition of dexamethasone to osteoclasts isolated from giant cell tumours of bone significantly inhibited resorption pit formation. Our findings indicate that dexamethasone has a direct effect on osteoclast formation and activity, stimulating the proliferation and differentiation of human osteoclast precursors and inhibiting the bone-resorbing activity of mature osteoclasts.

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M Jevon, A Sabokbar, Y Fujikawa, T Hirayama, SD Neale, J Wass, and NA Athanasou

A number of bone diseases characterised by excessive osteolysis (e.g. osteoporosis and Paget's disease) exhibit a marked gender difference in prevalence and are more common in the elderly population. Bone resorption is carried out by osteoclasts, which are formed by fusion of circulating mononuclear precursor cells of haematopoietic origin. In this study, we have determined whether there are gender- and age-related differences in osteoclast formation from circulating precursors. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were co-cultured with UMR106 osteoblast-like cells in the presence of macrophage-colony stimulating factor (M-CSF) and 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D(3) (1,25(OH)(2)D(3)) or cultured alone in the presence of sRANKL (soluble receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa B ligand) and M-CSF. As assessed by the formation of tartrate resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP)-positive (TRAP(+)) and vitronectin receptor-positive (VNR(+)) multinucleated cells (MNCs), there was no difference in the number of circulating osteoclast precursors in males and females. Lacunar resorption carried out by osteoclasts formed from these precursors was generally increased in males compared with females (P=0.03). An increase in the number of TRAP(+) and VNR(+) MNCs formed from male PBMCs was noted in response to 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) (P<0.005). An increase in lacunar resorption in cultures of PBMCs (10(5) per well) from males was also noted in response to 10(-9) M 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) (P<0.05) and sRANKL (P=0.05), but not M-CSF. The addition of dexamethasone resulted in a marked increase in osteoclast formation and lacunar resorption in both males and females. Post-menopausal females and males of comparable age showed similar levels of osteoclastogenesis. Pre-menopausal women showed similar levels of osteoclastogenesis but less resorption (P=0.01) compared with males of comparable age. These results show that there are specific gender/age-related differences in osteoclast formation and bone resorption and have implications for evaluating osteoclastogenesis in skeletal diseases such as primary osteoporosis and Paget's disease.