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J Cornish, KE Callon, U Bava, DH Coy, TB Mulvey, MA Murray, GJ Cooper, and IR Reid

Adrenomedullin is a 52-amino acid peptide first described in a human phaeochromocytoma but since been found to be present in many tissues, including the vascular system and bone. Because of its structural similarity to amylin and calcitonin gene-related peptide, both of which have actions on bone cells, we have previously assessed the effects of adrenomedullin on the skeleton, and found that it increases osteoblast proliferation in vitro and bone formation following local injection in vivo. The present study carries this work forward by assessing the effects on bone of the systemic administration of a fragment of this peptide lacking the structural requirements for vasodilator activity. Two groups of 20 adult male mice received 20 injections of human adrenomedullin(27-52) 8.1 microg or vehicle over a 4-week period and bone histomorphometry and strength were assessed. In the tibia, adrenomedullin(27-52) produced increases in the indices of osteoblast activity, osteoid perimeter and osteoblast perimeter (P<0.05 for both using Student's t-test). Osteoclast perimeter was not affected. There was a 21% increase in cortical width and a 45% increase in trabecular bone volume in animals treated with adrenomedullin(27-52) (P<0.002 for both). Assessment of bone strength by three-point bending of the humerus showed both the maximal force and the displacement to the point of failure were increased in the animals treated with adrenomedullin(27-52) (P<0.03 for both). There was also a significant increase in the thickness of the epiphyseal growth plate. No adverse effects of the treatment were noted. It is concluded that adrenomedullin(27-52) acts as an anabolic agent on bone. These findings may be relevant to the normal regulation of bone mass and to the design of agents for the treatment of osteoporosis.

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J Cornish, KE Callon, U Bava, C Lin, D Naot, BL Hill, AB Grey, N Broom, DE Myers, GC Nicholson, and IR Reid

Fat mass is an important determinant of bone density, but the mechanism of this relationship is uncertain. Leptin, as a circulating peptide of adipocyte origin, is a potential contributor to this relationship. Recently it was shown that intracerebroventricular administration of leptin is associated with bone loss, suggesting that obesity should be associated with low bone mass, the opposite of what is actually found. Since leptin originates in the periphery, an examination of its direct effects on bone is necessary to address this major discrepancy. Leptin (>10(-11) m) increased proliferation of isolated fetal rat osteoblasts comparably with IGF-I, and these cells expressed the signalling form of the leptin receptor. In mouse bone marrow cultures, leptin (>or=10(-11) m) inhibited osteoclastogenesis, but it had no effect on bone resorption in two assays of mature osteoclasts. Systemic administration of leptin to adult male mice (20 injections of 43 micro g/day over 4 weeks) reduced bone fragility (increased work to fracture by 27% and displacement to fracture by 21%, P<0.001). Changes in tibial histomorphometry were not statistically significant apart from an increase in growth plate thickness in animals receiving leptin. Leptin stimulated proliferation of isolated chondrocytes, and these cells also expressed the signalling form of the leptin receptor. It is concluded that the direct bone effects of leptin tend to reduce bone fragility and could contribute to the high bone mass and low fracture rates of obesity. When administered systemically, the direct actions of leptin outweigh its centrally mediated effects on bone, the latter possibly being mediated by leptin's regulation of insulin sensitivity.