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Age (Dordr). 2008 Dec;30(4):273-82. doi: 10.1007/s11357-008-9069-9. Epub 2008 Sep 2.

Age-dependent Wnt gene expression in bone and during the course of osteoblast differentiation.

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Institute of Pathophysiology, Medical University of Vienna, Währinger Gürtel 18-20, 1090, Vienna, Austria.


Wnt signaling is vital for osteoblast differentiation and recently has been associated with aging. Because impaired osteoblastogenesis is a cellular characteristic of age-induced bone loss, we investigated whether this process is associated with an altered expression of Wnt signaling-related proteins in bone and osteoblasts. Bone marrow cells were isolated from male C57BL/6 mice, aged 6 weeks, 6 months, and 18 months, respectively. Osteogenic differentiation was induced for 3 weeks and assessed using alizarin red staining. Gene expression of Wnt1, 3a, 4, 5a, 5b, 7b, 9b, 10b, lipoprotein receptor-related protein (LRP)-5/6, as well as dickkopf-1 (Dkk-1), sclerostin, and secreted frizzled related protein-1 (sFRP-1) was determined in bone tissue and osteoblasts on days 7, 14, and 21 by real-time RT-PCR. Osteoblast differentiation was significantly reduced in aged mice compared with young and adult mice. In bone tissue, expression levels of all genes assessed were decreased in adult and old mice, respectively, compared with young mice. Mature osteoblasts of aged compared with those of young mice showed enhanced expression of Wnt9b, LRP-6, and Dkk-1, and decreased expression of Wnt5a and 7b. In early osteoblasts, mRNA levels of Wnt1, 5a, 5b, and 7b were increased significantly in aged mice. The expression of Wnt3a, 4, LRP-5, and sclerostin was not altered in aged osteoblasts. In conclusion, osteoblastic expression of each Wnt-related protein is regulated individually by aging. The overall decreased expression of Wnt-related proteins in bone tissue of aged mice underlines the newly discovered association of Wnt signaling with aging.

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