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J Immunol. 1992 Feb 1;148(3):788-94.

Proinflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor-alpha and IL-6, but not IL-1, down-regulate the osteocalcin gene promoter.

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Department of Immunology, Forsyth Research Institute, Boston, MA 02115.


A proinflammatory cytokine cascade, including IL-1 alpha, IL-1 beta, TNF-alpha, IL-6, and IL-8, is activated in response to infection or immunologic insult. Besides their immunologic effects, several of these mediators stimulate bone resorption and inhibit bone formation. Osteocalcin, the most abundant noncollagenous protein present in bone, is an osteoblast-specific product whose production closely correlates with bone formation, and which has also been implicated in control of bone resorption. IL-1 and TNF have previously been shown to down-regulate osteocalcin production in vitro and in vivo, although the mechanism of this inhibition is unknown. In the present studies, IL-1 beta and TNF-alpha both inhibited 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3-stimulated production of osteocalcin protein and mRNA by ROS 17/2.8 osteosarcoma cells, whereas IL-6 had no effect on protein and only weakly inhibited mRNA. To determine if down-regulation was exerted at the transcriptional level, an osteocalcin promoter-chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) fusion gene was constructed (PHOC-CAT). After transient transfection of PHOC-CAT into ROS 17/2.8 osteosarcoma cells, reporter CAT activity was up-regulated by vitamin D at concentrations above 10(-12) M. In screening studies, TNF-alpha (-57%) and IL-6 (-37%) inhibited vitamin D-stimulated osteocalcin transcription, whereas IL-1 alpha, IL-1 beta, and IL-8 had no effect. Other immune cytokines and growth factors, including IL-2, IL-3, IL-7, and M-CSF, also failed to regulate osteocalcin transcription. Despite their lack of promoter regulation, IL-1 alpha and IL-1 beta also stimulated PGE2 production by ROS 17/2.8, further confirming the ability of the host cell to respond to these mediators. In dose-response experiments, down-regulation by TNF-alpha was significant at concentrations as low as 0.14 pM (0.1 U/ml), whereas approximately 10(4)-fold higher concentration of IL-6 was required to exert a similar effect. TNF-alpha-mediated down-regulation was unaffected by indomethacin. These data demonstrate that of these cytokines, TNF-alpha alone potently down-regulates osteocalcin promoter function, whereas IL-1 acts post-transcriptionally, possibly by reducing mRNA stability. Heterogeneity therefore exists among the proinflammatory cytokines with respect to the level at which control of osteocalcin expression is exerted.

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