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Blood. 2004 Oct 1;104(7):2044-50. Epub 2004 Jun 22.

TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) blocks osteoclastic differentiation induced by RANKL plus M-CSF.

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Department of Normal Human Morphology, University of Trieste, Italy.


The role of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) superfamily member receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa B ligand (RANKL) in promoting the differentiation of osteoclasts has been extensively characterized. In this study, we have investigated the effect of TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL), a member of the TNF superfamily of cytokines, in osteoclastogenesis, by using human peripheral blood mononuclear cells and the RAW264.7 murine monocytic cell line. Both cell models differentiate into osteoclast-like cells in presence of RANKL plus macrophage-colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF), as evaluated in terms of tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP)-positive multinucleated cells and bone resorption activity. Unexpectedly, when added in culture in combination with RANKL plus M-CSF, TRAIL inhibited osteoclastic differentiation in both cell models. To investigate the molecular mechanism underlining such inhibitory activity, we analyzed the effect of TRAIL on the mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) pathways, which play a key role in osteoclastogenesis. Treatment with RANKL plus M-CSF activated both the ERK1/2 and p38/MAPK pathways, which are essential for proliferation and differentiation of preosteoclasts, respectively. Of note, the addition of TRAIL to RANKL plus M-CSF did not affect ERK1/2 but it profoundly inhibited p38/MAPK phosphorylation. Thus, our data demonstrate that TRAIL blocks osteoclastic differentiation and suggest that inhibition of the p38/MAPK pathway by TRAIL likely plays an important role in this process.

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