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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.

Open access

Vikte Lionikaite, Karin L Gustafsson, Anna Westerlund, Sara H Windahl, Antti Koskela, Juha Tuukkanen, Helena Johansson, Claes Ohlsson, Herschel H Conaway, Petra Henning and Ulf H Lerner

Excess vitamin A has been associated with decreased cortical bone thickness and increased fracture risk. While most studies in rodents have employed high dosages of vitamin A for short periods of time, we investigated the bone phenotype in mice after longer exposure to more clinically relevant doses. For 1, 4 and 10 weeks, mice were fed a control diet (4.5µg retinyl acetate/g chow), a diet modelled from the human upper tolerable limit (UTL; 20µg retinyl acetate/g chow) and a diet three times UTL (supplemented; 60µg retinyl acetate/g chow). Time- dependent decreases in periosteal circumference were noted with the supplemented dose. These reductions in cortical bone resulted in a significant time-dependent decrease of predicted strength and a non-significant trend towards reduced bone strength as analyzed by three-point bending. Trabecular bone in tibiae and vertebrae remained unaffected when vitamin A was increased in the diet. Dynamic histomorphometry demonstrated that bone formation was substantially decreased after 1 week of treatment at the periosteal site with the supplemental dose. Increasing amount of vitamin A decreased endocortical circumference, resulting in decreased marrow area, a response associated with enhanced endocortical bone formation. In the presence of bisphosphonate, vitamin A had no effect on cortical bone, suggesting that osteoclasts are important, even if effects on bone resorption were not detected by osteoclast counting, genes in cortical bone, or analysis of serum TRAP5b and CTX. In conclusion, our results indicate that even clinically relevant doses of vitamin A have a negative impact on the amount of cortical bone.

Full access

Helen H Farman, Karin L Gustafsson, Petra Henning, Louise Grahnemo, Vikte Lionikaite, Sofia Movérare-Skrtic, Jianyao Wu, Henrik Ryberg, Antti Koskela, Juha Tuukkanen, Ellis Levin, Claes Ohlsson and Marie K Lagerquist

The importance of estrogen receptor α (ERα) for the regulation of bone mass in males is well established. ERα mediates estrogenic effects both via nuclear and membrane-initiated ERα (mERα) signaling. The role of mERα signaling for the effects of estrogen on bone in male mice is unknown. To investigate the role of mERα signaling, we have used mice (nuclear-only-ER; NOER) with a point mutation (C451A), which results in inhibited trafficking of ERα to the plasma membrane. Gonadal intact male NOER mice had a significantly decreased total body areal bone mineral density (aBMD) compared to wild type (WT) littermates at three, six, and nine months of age as measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). High-resolution micro-computed tomography (µCT) analysis of tibia in three-month-old males demonstrated a decrease in cortical and trabecular thickness in NOER mice compared to WT littermates. As expected, estradiol (E2) treatment of orchidectomized (ORX) WT mice increased total body aBMD, trabecular BV/TV, and cortical thickness in tibia compared to placebo treatment. E2 treatment increased these skeletal parameters also in ORX NOER mice. However, the estrogenic responses were significantly decreased in ORX NOER mice compared with ORX WT mice. In conclusion, mERα is essential for normal estrogen signaling in both trabecular and cortical bone in male mice. Increased knowledge of estrogen signaling mechanisms in the regulation of the male skeleton may aid in the development of new treatment options for male osteoporosis.

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.