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Accelerated turnover of metaphyseal trabecular bone in mice overexpressing cathepsin K.

  • Kiviranta, R
  • Morko, J
  • Uusitalo, H
  • Aro, H T
  • Vuorio, E
  • Rantakokko, J
Published Article
Journal of bone and mineral research : the official journal of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research
Publication Date
Aug 01, 2001
PMID: 11499867


This study is based on a hypothesis that overexpression of an osteoclast enzyme, cathepsin K, causes an imbalance in bone remodeling toward bone loss. The hypothesis was tested in transgenic (TG) mice harboring additional copies of the murine cathepsin K gene (Ctsk) identifiable by a silent mutation engineered into the construct. For this study, three TG mouse lines harboring 3-25 copies of the transgene were selected. Tissue specificity of transgene expression was determined by Northern analysis, which revealed up to 6-fold increases in the levels of cathepsin K messenger RNA (mRNA) in calvarial and long bone samples of the three TG lines. No changes were seen in the mRNA levels of other osteoclast enzymes, indicating that the increase in cathepsin K mRNA was not a reflection of activation of all osteoclast enzymes. Immunohistochemistry confirmed that cathepsin K expression in the TG mice was confined to osteoclasts and chondroclasts. Histomorphometry revealed a significantly decreased trabecular bone volume (BV), but, surprisingly, also a marked increase in the number of osteoblasts, the rate of bone turnover, and the amount of mineralizing surface (MS). However, monitoring of bone density in the proximal tibias of the TG mice with peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT) failed to reveal statistically significant changes in bone density. Similarly, no statistically significant alterations were observed in biomechanical testing at the age of 7 months. The increases in parameters of bone formation triggered by increased cathepsin K expression is an example of the tight coupling of bone resorption and formation during the bone-remodeling cycle.

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