Faculty Research 1990 - 1999

Osteoclast formation in bone marrow cultures from two inbred strains of mice with different bone densities.

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Animals, Bone Density, Bone Marrow Cells, Bone Resorption, Cell Count, Coculture Techniques, Female, Male, Mice, Mice, Inbred C3H, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Osteoclasts, Species Specificity


American Society for Bone and Mineral Research

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J Bone Miner Res 1999 Jan; 14(1):39-46.


For the purpose of identifying genes that affect bone volume, we previously identified two inbred mouse strains (C57BL/6J and C3H/HeJ) with large differences in femoral bone density and medullary cavity volume. The lower density and larger medullary cavity volume in C57BL/6J mice could result from either decreased formation or increased resorption or both. We recently reported evidence suggesting that bone formation was increased in vivo and that osteoblast progenitor cells are more numerous in the bone marrow of C3H/HeJ compared with C57BL/6J mice. In the present study, we determined whether osteoclast numbers in vivo and osteoclast formation from bone marrow cells in vitro might also differ between the two mouse strains. We have found that the number of osteoclasts on bone surfaces of distal humerus secondary spongiosa was 2-fold higher in 5.5-week-old C57BL/6J mice than in C3H/HeJ mice of the same age (p < 0.001). Bone marrow cells of C57BL/6J mice cocultured with Swiss/Webster mouse osteoblasts consistently produced more osteoclasts than did C3H/HeJ bone marrow cells at all ages tested from 3.5-14 weeks of age (p < 0.001). Osteoclast formation was also greater from spleen cells of 3.5-week-old C57BL/6J mice than C3H/HeJ mice. The distribution of nuclei per osteoclast and the 1, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 dose dependence of osteoclast production from bone marrow cells were similar. Osteoclasts that developed from both C57BL/6J and C3H/HeJ marrow cells formed pits in dentin slices. Cultures from C57BL/6J marrow cells formed 2.5-fold more pits than cultures from C3H/HeJ marrow cells (p < 0.02). We compared the abilities of C57BL/6J and C3H/HeJ osteoblasts to support osteoclast formation. When bone marrow cells from either C57BL/6J or C3H/HeJ mice were cocultured with osteoblasts from either C57BL/6J or C3H/HeJ newborn calvaria, the strain from which osteoblasts were derived did not affect the number of osteoclasts formed from marrow cells of either strain. Together, these observations suggest that genes affecting the bone marrow osteoclast precursor population may contribute to the relative differences in bone density that occur between C3H/HeJ and C57BL/6J mouse strains.

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