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J Cell Biochem. 2003 Apr 15;88(6):1145-56.

Regulation of bone resorption and osteoclast survival by nitric oxide: possible involvement of NMDA-receptor.

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Groupe d'Etude des Mécanismes de la Résorption Osseuse, Université de Picardie-Jules Verne, Laboratoire de pharmacie clinique, 1, rue des Louvels, 80037 Amiens, France.


Nitric oxide has been shown to play an important role in regulation of bone resorption. However, the role of endogenous nitric oxide on osteoclast activity remains still controversial. In this work, using RT-PCR amplification, we demonstrated that rabbit mature osteoclasts express mRNA encoding for neuronal nitric oxide synthase suggesting that this enzyme could be involved in basal nitric oxide production in these cells. Then we assessed the effect of carboxy-PTIO, a nitric oxide scavenger, on in vitro bone resorption and osteoclast survival. Carboxy-PTIO (10-100 microM) inhibited osteoclastic bone resorption in a dose dependent manner and induced osteoclast apoptosis by a mechanism involving caspase 3 activation. These results suggest that basal concentration of endogenous nitric oxide may be essential for normal bone resorption by supporting osteoclast survival. Because osteoclasts express N-methyl-d-aspartate-receptor (NMDA-R), we hypothesized that in osteoclasts NMDA-R may be involved in nitric oxide production as in neuronal cells. We confirmed that blockade of NMDA-R with specific non-competitive antagonists, MK801 and DEP, strongly inhibited bone resorption. As for carboxy-PTIO, we showed that blockade of NMDA-R by both antagonists induced osteoclast apoptosis in a dose dependent manner by a mechanism dependent on caspase 3 activation. Intracellular calcium concentration in osteoclasts decreased within minutes in the presence of both antagonists. Finally, MK801-induced osteoclast apoptosis was partially reversed in the presence of small amount of SNAP (100 nM), a nitric oxide donor, suggesting that the effect of NMDA-R on osteoclast apoptotic cell death could be due to a decrease in nitric oxide production. Taken together, our results are consistent with the hypothesis that NMDA-R on osteoclasts could have a similar function as those in neuronal cells, i.e., to allow a calcium influx, which in turn activates a constitutive neuronal nitric oxide synthase. Nitric oxide generated by this pathway may be essential for osteoclast survival and hence for normal bone resorption.

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