SummarySkeletal aging results in apoptosis of osteocytes, cells embedded in bone that control the generation/function of bone forming and resorbing cells. Aging also decreases connexin43 (Cx43) expression in bone; and osteocytic Cx43 deletion partially mimics the skeletal phenotype of old mice. Particularly, aging and Cx43 deletion increase osteocyte apoptosis, and osteoclast number and bone resorption on endocortical bone surfaces. We examined herein the molecular signaling events responsible for osteocyte apoptosis and osteoclast recruitment triggered by aging and Cx43 deficiency. Cx43‐silenced MLO‐Y4 osteocytic (Cx43def) cells undergo spontaneous cell death in culture through caspase‐3 activation and exhibit increased levels of apoptosis‐related genes, and only transfection of Cx43 constructs able to form gap junction channels reverses Cx43def cell death. Cx43def cells and bones from old mice exhibit reduced levels of the pro‐survival microRNA miR21 and, consistently, increased levels of the miR21 target phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) and reduced phosphorylated Akt, whereas PTEN inhibition reduces Cx43def cell apoptosis. miR21 reduction is sufficient to induce apoptosis of Cx43‐expressing cells and miR21 deletion in miR21fl/fl bones increases apoptosis‐related gene expression, whereas a miR21 mimic prevents Cx43def cell apoptosis, demonstrating that miR21 lies downstream of Cx43. Cx43def cells release more osteoclastogenic cytokines [receptor activator of NFκB ligand (RANKL)/high‐mobility group box‐1 (HMGB1)], and caspase‐3 inhibition prevents RANKL/HMGB1 release and the increased osteoclastogenesis induced by conditioned media from Cx43def cells, which is blocked by antagonizing HMGB1‐RAGE interaction. These findings identify a novel Cx43/miR21/HMGB1/RANKL pathway involved in preventing osteocyte apoptosis that also controls osteoclast formation/recruitment and is impaired with aging.
Background: Connexin proteins are essential for cell differentiation, function, and survival. Results: Global deletion of Cx37 results in increased bone mass caused by reduced osteoclast maturation. Conclusion: Our findings demonstrate a previously unrecognized role of Cx37 in bone homeostasis in vivo. Significance: Therapeutic approaches to increase bone mass might be developed by interfering with Cx37 function.
Background: Osteocyte apoptosis precedes bone loss induced by reduced mechanical forces, and unloading increases RANKL expression. Results: Inhibition of osteocyte apoptosis prevents increased osteocytic RANKL but not bone loss induced by tail suspension. Conclusion: Prevention of apoptosis and reduction of osteocytic RANKL are not sufficient to stop unloading-induced bone loss. Significance: RANKL from non-osteocytic sources contributes to bone loss induced by reduced mechanical forces.
Connexin43 (Cx43) forms gap junction channels and hemichannels that allow the communication among osteocytes, osteoblasts, and osteoclasts. Cx43 carboxy-terminal (CT) domain regulates channel opening and intracellular signaling by acting as a scaffold for structural and signaling proteins. To determine the role of Cx43 CT domain in bone, mice in which one allele of full length Cx43 was replaced by a mutant lacking the CT domain (Cx43ΔCT/fl) were studied. Cx43ΔCT/fl mice exhibit lower cancellous bone volume but higher cortical thickness than Cx43fl/fl controls, indicating that the CT domain is involved in normal cancellous bone gain but opposes cortical bone acquisition. Further, Cx43ΔCT is able to exert the functions of full length osteocytic Cx43 on cortical bone geometry and mechanical properties, demonstrating that domains other than the CT are responsible for Cx43 function in cortical bone. In addition, parathyroid hormone (PTH) failed to increase endocortical bone formation or energy to failure, a mechanical property that indicates resistance to fracture, in cortical bone in Cx43ΔCT mice with or without osteocytic full length Cx43. On the other hand, bone mass and bone formation markers were increased by the hormone in all mouse models, regardless of whether full length or Cx43ΔCT were or not expressed. We conclude that Cx43 CT domain is involved in proper bone acquisition; and that Cx43 expression in osteocytes is dispensable for some but not all PTH anabolic actions.
Glucocorticoid excess, either endogenous with diseases of the adrenal gland, stress, or aging or when administered for immunosuppression, induces bone and muscle loss, leading to osteopenia and sarcopenia. Muscle weakness increases the propensity for falling, which, combined with the lower bone mass, increases the fracture risk. The mechanisms underlying glucocorticoid-induced bone and muscle atrophy are not completely understood. We have demonstrated that the loss of bone and muscle mass, decreased bone formation, and reduced muscle strength, hallmarks of glucocorticoid excess, are accompanied by upregulation in both tissues in vivo of the atrophy-related genes atrogin1, MuRF1, and MUSA1. These are E3 ubiquitin ligases traditionally considered muscle-specific. Glucocorticoids also upregulated atrophy genes in cultured osteoblastic/osteocytic cells, in ex vivo bone organ cultures, and in muscle organ cultures and C2C12 myoblasts/myotubes. Furthermore, glucocorticoids markedly increased the expression of components of the Notch signaling pathway in muscle in vivo, ex vivo, and in vitro. In contrast, glucocorticoids did not increase Notch signaling in bone or bone cells. Moreover, the increased expression of atrophy-related genes in muscle, but not in bone, and the decreased myotube diameter induced by glucocorticoids were prevented by inhibiting Notch signaling. Thus, glucocorticoids activate different mechanisms in bone and muscle that upregulate atrophy-related genes. However, the role of these genes in the effects of glucocorticoids in bone is unknown. Nevertheless, these findings advance our knowledge of the mechanism of action of glucocorticoids in the musculoskeletal system and provide the basis for novel therapies to prevent glucocorticoid-induced atrophy of bone and muscle.
Young, skeletally mature mice lacking Cx43 in osteocytes exhibit increased osteocyte apoptosis and decreased bone strength, resembling the phenotype of old mice. Further, the expression of Cx43 in bone decreases with age, suggesting a contribution of reduced Cx43 levels to the age-related changes in the skeleton. We report herein that Cx43 overexpression in osteocytes achieved by using the DMP1-8kb promoter (Cx43OT mice) attenuates the skeletal cortical, but not trabecular bone phenotype of aged, 14-month-old mice. The percentage of Cx43-expressing osteocytes was higher in Cx43OT mice, whereas the percentage of Cx43 positive osteoblasts remained similar to wild type (WT) littermate control mice. The percentage of apoptotic osteocytes and osteoblasts was increased in aged WT mice compared to skeletally mature, 6-month-old WT mice, and the percentage of apoptotic osteocytes, but not osteoblasts, was decreased in age-matched Cx43OT mice. Aged WT mice exhibited decreased bone formation and increased bone resorption as quantified by histomorphometric analysis and circulating markers, compared to skeletally mature mice. Further, aged WT mice exhibited the expected decrease in bone biomechanical structural and material properties compared to young mice. Cx43 overexpression prevented the increase in osteoclasts and decrease in bone formation on the endocortical surfaces, and the changes in circulating markers in the aged mice. Moreover, the ability of bone to resist damage was preserved in aged Cx43OT mice both at the structural and material level. All together, these findings suggest that increased Cx43 expression in osteocytes ameliorates age-induced cortical bone changes by preserving osteocyte viability and maintaining bone formation, leading to improved bone strength.
Purpose of review To discuss the current knowledge on the role of connexins and pannexins in the musculoskeletal system. Recent findings Connexins and pannexins are crucial for the development and maintenance of both bone and skeletal muscle. In bone, the existence of connexin and more recently pannexin channels in osteoblasts, osteoclasts, and osteocytes has been described, and shown to be essential for normal skeletal development and bone adaptation. In skeletal muscles, connexins and pannexins play important roles during development and regeneration through coordinated regulation of metabolic functions via cell-to-cell communication. Further, under pathological conditions, altered expression of these proteins can promote muscle atrophy and degeneration by stimulating inflammasome activity. Summary In the current review, we highlight the important roles of connexins and pannexins in the development, maintenance, and regeneration of musculoskeletal tissues, with emphasis on the mechanisms by which these molecules mediate chemical (e.g., ATP and PGE2) and physical (e.g. mechanical stimulation) stimuli that target the musculoskeletal system and their involvement in the pathophysiological changes in both genetic and acquired diseases.
scite is a Brooklyn-based organization that helps researchers better discover and understand research articles through Smart Citations–citations that display the context of the citation and describe whether the article provides supporting or contrasting evidence. scite is used by students and researchers from around the world and is funded in part by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health.
334 Leonard St
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Copyright © 2024 scite LLC. All rights reserved.
Made with 💙 for researchers
Part of the Research Solutions Family.