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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Feb 15;302(4):E389-95. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00320.2011. Epub 2011 Nov 22.

Expression of muscle anabolic and metabolic factors in mechanically loaded MLO-Y4 osteocytes.

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Department of Oral Cell Biology, Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Lack of physical activity results in muscle atrophy and bone loss, which can be counteracted by mechanical loading. Similar molecular signaling pathways are involved in the adaptation of muscle and bone mass to mechanical loading. Whether anabolic and metabolic factors regulating muscle mass, i.e., insulin-like growth factor-I isoforms (IGF-I Ea), mechano growth factor (MGF), myostatin, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), or hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), are also produced by osteocytes in bone in response to mechanical loading is largely unknown. Therefore, we investigated whether mechanical loading by pulsating fluid flow (PFF) modulates the mRNA and/or protein levels of muscle anabolic and metabolic factors in MLO-Y4 osteocytes. Unloaded MLO-Y4 osteocytes expressed mRNA of VEGF, HGF, IGF-I Ea, and MGF, but not myostatin. PFF increased mRNA levels of IGF-I Ea (2.1-fold) and MGF (2.0-fold) at a peak shear stress rate of 44Pa/s, but not at 22Pa/s. PFF at 22 Pa/s increased VEGF mRNA levels (1.8- to 2.5-fold) and VEGF protein release (2.0- to 2.9-fold). Inhibition of nitric oxide production decreased (2.0-fold) PFF-induced VEGF protein release. PFF at 22 Pa/s decreased HGF mRNA levels (1.5-fold) but increased HGF protein release (2.3-fold). PFF-induced HGF protein release was nitric oxide dependent. Our data show that mechanically loaded MLO-Y4 osteocytes differentially express anabolic and metabolic factors involved in the adaptive response of muscle to mechanical loading (i.e., IGF-I Ea, MGF, VEGF, and HGF). Similarly to muscle fibers, mechanical loading enhanced expression levels of these growth factors in MLO-Y4 osteocytes. Although in MLO-Y4 osteocytes expression levels of IGF-I Ea and MGF of myostatin were very low or absent, it is known that the activity of osteoblasts and osteoclasts is strongly affected by them. The abundant expression levels of these factors in muscle cells, in combination with low expression in MLO-Y4 osteocytes, provide a possibility that growth factors expressed in muscle could affect signaling in bone cells.

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