The ability of parathyroid hormone (PTH) to enhance bone formation has recently been exploited in the treatment of osteoporosis. However, the underlying mechanisms are unknown. Osteoblasts, the bone-forming cells, derive from multipotential bone marrow stromal precursors called colony-forming units-fibroblastic (CFU-F) upon culture ex vivo. Adhesion of such stromal precursors to bone is likely to be an early event in the anabolic response of bone to PTH. To test this, we measured the number of CFU-F that could be extracted from murine bone marrow after administration of an anabolic dose of PTH. We found that a very early response is a dramatic reduction, starting within 2 h, in the number of CFU-F that could be extracted from their bone marrow. We then tested whether PTH has the ability to activate adhesion of CFU-F in vitro. For this, bone marrow cells were incubated in PTH for varying times. Non-adherent cells were then removed, and the adherent cells were incubated in PTH-free medium for 14 days to assess, as colony formation, the number of CFU-F that had adhered in the preceding period. We found that incubation in PTH caused a substantial increase in the number of CFU-F that adhered within 24 h. This increase was abrogated by peptidic inhibitors of integrins. The increase did not seem to be mediated through a PTH-induced increase in interleukin-6, since interleukin-6 had no effect on CFU-F numbers when substituted for PTH. Similarly, adhesion was unaffected by incubation of bone marrow cells in dibutyryl cyclic AMP, nor by inhibitors or donors of nitric oxide. However, activation of CFU-F in vitro by PTH was strongly inhibited by indomethacin and mimicked by prostaglandin E(2), and indomethacin reversed the PTH-mediated reduction of CFU-F that could be extracted from mouse bone marrow. These results suggested that PTH rapidly activates adhesion of CFU-F to plastic or bone surfaces. This activation may represent an early event in the anabolic response of bone cells to PTH.
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