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DW Dempster, BS Moonga, LS Stein, WR Horbert, and T Antakly

We have studied the effects of glucocorticoids on the activity and viability of neonatal rat osteoclasts in vitro. In the bone slice assay, glucocorticoids caused a dose-dependent decrease in the amount of bone resorbed, which was accompanied by a parallel decrease in osteoclast number. Loss of osteoclasts was due to their death, which occurred by the process of apoptosis. Evidence for the latter was obtained by a range of techniques, including time-lapse video microscopy, acridine orange staining, DNA fragment detection and transmission electron microscopy. Immunocytochemistry revealed the presence of glucocorticoid receptors in osteoclasts, and glucocorticoid-induced cell death could be prevented by the glucocorticoid receptor antagonist, RU486. These observations suggest that glucocorticoids promote receptor-mediated apoptosis of rat osteoclasts in vitro. This finding may help to explain recent data indicating that, in sharp contrast with their effects on the human skeleton, glucocorticoids inhibit bone resorption and increase bone mass in rats in vivo.

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BS Moonga, OA Adebanjo, HJ Wang, S Li, XB Wu, B Troen, A Inzerillo, E Abe, C Minkin, CL Huang, and M Zaidi

The effects of the related cytokines interleukin-6 (IL-6), leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) and oncostatin-M on bone resorption and cytosolic Ca(2+) signaling were compared in isolated rat osteoclasts. In the traditional disaggregated osteoclast (pit) assay, IL-6 and LIF, but not oncostatin-M, conserved the bone resorption otherwise inhibited by high extracellular [Ca(2+)] (15 mM). It produced a paradoxical, concentration-dependent stimulation of resorption by elevated extracellular Ca(2+). In the micro-isolated single osteoclast resorption assay, IL-6, high [Ca(2+)] or IL-6 plus high [Ca(2+)] all increased pit formation. In contrast, the IL-6 receptor (IL-6R)-specific agonist antibody MT-18 inhibited bone resorption in a concentration-dependent manner (1:500 to 1:500 000). MT-18 triggered cytosolic Ca(2+) signals in fura 2-loaded osteoclasts within approximately 10 min of application. Each cytosolic Ca(2+) transient began with a peak deflection that persisted in Ca(2+)-free, EGTA-containing extracellular medium, consistent with a release of intracellularly stored Ca(2+). This was followed by a sustained elevation of cytosolic [Ca(2+)] that was abolished in Ca(2+)-free medium, as expected from an entry of extracellular Ca(2+), and by the Ca(2+) channel antagonist Ni(2+). The inclusion of either IL-6 or soluble human (sh) IL-6R specifically reversed both the above effects of MT-18, confirming that both effects were specific for the IL-6R. The findings suggest that IL-6R activation by IL-6 stimulates osteoclastic bone resorption either by reversing the inhibitory effect of high extracellular Ca(2+) in stromal-containing systems or itself stimulating bone resorption along with Ca(2+) by micro-isolated osteoclasts. In contrast, activation of the IL-6R by an agonist antibody produces an inhibition of bone resorption and an associated triggering of the cytosolic Ca(2+) signals previously associated with regulation of bone resorptive function in other situations.