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J Biol Chem. 2005 Aug 26;280(34):30192-200. Epub 2005 Jun 16.

Unloading induces osteoblastic cell suppression and osteoclastic cell activation to lead to bone loss via sympathetic nervous system.

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Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Japan.


Osteoporosis is one of the major health problems in our modern world. Especially, disuse (unloading) osteoporosis occurs commonly in bedridden patients, a population that is rapidly increasing due to aging-associated diseases. However, the mechanisms underlying such unloading-induced pathological bone loss have not yet been fully understood. Since sympathetic nervous system could control bone mass, we examined whether unloading-induced bone loss is controlled by sympathetic nervous tone. Treatment with beta-blocker, propranolol, suppressed the unloading-induced reduction in bone mass. Conversely, beta-agonist, isoproterenol, reduced bone mass in loaded mice, and under such conditions, unloading no longer further reduced bone mass. Analyses on the cellular bases indicated that unloading-induced reduction in the levels of osteoblastic cell activities, including mineral apposition rate, mineralizing surface, and bone formation rate, was suppressed by propranolol treatment and that isoproterenol-induced reduction in these levels of bone formation parameters was no longer suppressed by unloading. Unloading-induced reduction in the levels of mineralized nodule formation in bone marrow cell cultures was suppressed by propranolol treatment in vivo. In addition, loss of a half-dosage in the dopamine beta-hydroxylase gene suppressed the unloading-induced bone loss and reduction in mineralized nodule formation. Unloading-induced increase in the levels of osteoclastic activities such as osteoclast number and surface as well as urinary deoxypyridinoline was all suppressed by the treatment with propranolol. These observations indicated that sympathetic nervous tone mediates unloading-induced bone loss through suppression of bone formation by osteoblasts and enhancement of resorption by osteoclasts.

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