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Bone. 2002 Sep;31(3):381-8.

Vector-averaged gravity-induced changes in cell signaling and vitamin D receptor activity in MG-63 cells are reversed by a 1,25-(OH)2D3 analog, EB1089.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.
Baylor Coll Med, Houston, TX


Skeletal unloading in an animal hindlimb suspension model and microgravity experienced by astronauts or as a result of prolonged bed rest causes site-specific losses in bone mineral density of 1%-2% per month. This is accompanied by reductions in circulating levels of 1,25-(OH)(2)D(3), the active metabolite of vitamin D. 1,25-(OH)(2)D(3), the ligand for the vitamin D receptor (VDR), is important for calcium absorption and plays a role in differentiation of osteoblasts and osteoclasts. To examine the responses of cells to activators of the VDR in a simulated microgravity environment, we used slow-turning lateral vessels (STLVs) in a rotating cell culture system. We found that, similar to cells grown in microgravity, MG-63 cells grown in the STLVs produce less osteocalcin, alkaline phosphatase, and collagen Ialpha1 mRNA and are less responsive to 1,25-(OH)(2)D(3). In addition, expression of VDR was reduced. Moreover, growth in the STLV caused activation of the stress-activated protein kinase pathway (SAPK), a kinase that inhibits VDR activity. In contrast, the 1,25-(OH)(2)D(3) analog, EB1089, was able to compensate for some of the STLV-associated responses by reducing SAPK activity, elevating VDR levels, and increasing expression of osteocalcin and alkaline phosphatase. These studies suggest that, not only does simulated microgravity reduce differentiation of MG-63 cells, but the activity of the VDR, an important regulator of bone metabolism, is reduced. Use of potent, less calcemic analogs of 1,25-(OH)(2)D(3) may aid in overcoming this defect.

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