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Osteoporos Int. 2007 Mar;18(3):339-49. Epub 2006 Oct 12.

Effects of spinal cord injury on osteoblastogenesis, osteoclastogenesis and gene expression profiling in osteoblasts in young rats.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Xinhua Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, 1665 Kongjiang Road, Shanghai, China.



Spinal cord injury (SCI) causes a significant amount of bone loss in the sublesional area in animals and humans, and this type of bone loss is different from other forms of osteoporosis such as disuse osteoporosis and postmenopausal osteoporosis. However, no data is available on the cellular and molecular changes of osteoblastogenesis and osteoclastogenesis during SCI-induced bone loss.


SCI and SHAM rats were used in this study to investigate osteoblastogenesis and osteoclastogenesis in bone-marrow culture. We also measured bone mass and bone histomorphometry, as well as the expression of alkaline phosphatase (ALP), core binding factor alpha1 (Cbfa-1), osterix, receptor activator of NF-kappaB ligand (RANKL) and osteoprotegerin (OPG) in osteoblast-like cells in bone-marrow culture obtained from SCI and SHAM rats.


Bone mineral density (BMD) measurement showed serious bone loss in the tibial ephiphyses and metaphyses of SCI rats compared with SHAM rats. In addition, bone histomorphometry analysis of the tibial metaphyses of SCI rats demonstrated that bone microarchitecture in SCI rats deteriorated further than in SHAM rats, and increased eroded surfaces and bone formation rates were observed in SCI rats. The number of osteoclasts that developed from bone marrow of SCI rats at equal density was significantly increased compared with SHAM rats, and the area of the resorption pits formed in the bone marrow culture from SCI rats was significantly greater than SHAM rats, whereas the number of CFU-F and CFU-OB was similar in both groups. RANKL mRNA and protein levels in osteoblast-like cells in culture obtained from SCI rats were significantly higher than those from the SHAM rats, whereas OPG levels decreased slightly. The ratios of RANKL to OPG expression in SCI rats were significantly higher than those in SHAM rats. However, osteogenic gene profiling of Cbfa-1, ALP and osterix in SCI rats remained similar with SHAM rats.


These changes favor increased osteoclast activity over osteoblast activity, and may explain, in part, the imbalance in bone formation and resorption following SCI.

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