Increased RANK ligand in bone marrow of orchiectomized rats and prevention of their bone loss by the RANK ligand inhibitor osteoprotegerin

Xiaodong Li, Michael S Ominsky, Marina Stolina, Kelly S Warmington, Zhaopo Geng, Qing-Tian Niu, Frank J Asuncion, Hong-Lin Tan, Mario Grisanti, Denise Dwyer, Steven Adamu, Hua Zhu Ke, W Scott Simonet, Paul J Kostenuik
Bone 2009, 45 (4): 669-76
Orchiectomized (ORX) rats were used to examine the extent to which their increased bone resorption and decreased bone density might relate to increases in RANKL, an essential cytokine for bone resorption. Serum testosterone declined by >95% in ORX rats 1 and 2 weeks after surgery (p<0.05 versus sham controls), with no observed changes in serum RANKL. In contrast, RANKL in bone marrow plasma and bone marrow cell extracts was significantly increased (by approximately 100%) 1 and 2 weeks after ORX. Regression analyses of ORX and sham controls revealed a significant inverse correlation between testosterone and RANKL levels measured in marrow cell extracts (R=-0.58), while marrow plasma RANKL correlated positively with marrow plasma TRACP-5b, an osteoclast marker (R=0.63). The effects of RANKL inhibition were then studied by treating ORX rats for 6 weeks with OPG-Fc (10 mg/kg, twice/week SC) or with PBS, beginning immediately after surgery. Sham controls were treated with PBS. Vehicle-treated ORX rats showed significant deficits in BMD of the femur/tibia and lower trabecular bone volume in the distal femur (p<0.05 versus sham). OPG-Fc treatment of ORX rats increased femur/tibia BMD and trabecular bone volume to levels that significantly exceeded values for ORX or sham controls. OPG-Fc reduced trabecular osteoclast surfaces in ORX rats by 99%, and OPG-Fc also prevented ORX-related increases in endocortical eroded surface and ORX-related reductions in periosteal bone formation rate. Micro-CT of lumbar vertebrae from OPG-Fc-treated ORX rats demonstrated significantly greater cortical and trabecular bone volume and density versus ORX-vehicle controls. In summary, ORX rats exhibited increased RANKL protein in bone marrow plasma and in bone marrow cells, with no changes in serum RANKL. Data from regression analyses were consistent with a potential role for testosterone in suppressing RANKL production in bone marrow, and also suggested that soluble RANKL in bone marrow might promote bone resorption. RANKL inhibition prevented ORX-related deficits in trabecular BMD, trabecular architecture, and periosteal bone formation while increasing cortical and trabecular bone volume and density. These results support the investigation of RANKL inhibition as a strategy for preventing bone loss associated with androgen ablation or deficiency.

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