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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1994 Apr 26;91(9):3569-73.

Potentiation of osteoclast bone-resorption activity by inhibition of nitric oxide synthase.

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Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Monsanto Corporate Research, St. Louis, MO 63167.


We have examined the effects of modulating nitric oxide (NO) levels on osteoclast-mediated bone resorption in vitro and the effects of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) inhibitors on bone mineral density in vivo. Diaphorase-based histochemical staining for NOS activity of bone sections or highly enriched osteoclast cultures suggested that osteoclasts exhibit substantial NOS activity that may account for basal NO production. Chicken osteoclasts were cultured for 36 hr on bovine bone slices in the presence or absence of the NO-generating agent sodium nitroprusside or the NOS inhibitors N-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester and aminoguanidine. Nitroprusside markedly decreased the number of bone pits and the average pit area in comparison with control cultures. On the other hand, NOS inhibition by N-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester or aminoguanidine dramatically increased the number of bone pits and the average resorption area per pit. In a model of osteoporosis, aminoguanidine potentiated the loss of bone mineral density in ovariectomized rats. Aminoguanidine also caused a loss of bone mineral density in the sham-operated rats. Inhibition of NOS activity in vitro and in vivo resulted in an apparent potentiation of osteoclast activity. These findings suggest that endogenous NO production in osteoclast cultures may regulate resorption activity. The modulation of NOS and NO levels by cells within the bone microenvironment may be a sensitive mechanism for local control of osteoclast bone resorption.

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