Ki Hoon Han, Jae Won Ryu, Kyung-Eun Lim, Soo-Han Lee, Yuna Kim, Chang Sun Hwang, Je-Yong Choi, Ki Ok Han
Circulating osteoclast precursor cells highly express CX3C chemokine receptor 1 (CX3CR1), which is the only receptor for the unique CX3C membrane-anchored chemokine, fractalkine (CX3CL1). An irradiated murine model was used to evaluate the role of the CX3CL1–CX3CR1 axis in osteoclast recruitment and osteoclastogenesis. Ionizing radiation (IR) promoted the migration of circulating CD11b + cells to irradiated bones and dose-dependently increased the number of differentiated osteoclasts in irradiated bones. Notably, CX3CL1 was dramatically upregulated in the vascular endothelium after IR. IR-induced production of CX3CL1 by skeletal vascular endothelium promoted chemoattraction of circulating CX3CR1 +/CD11b + cells and triggered homing of these osteoclast precursor cells toward the bone remodeling surface, a specific site for osteoclast differentiation. CX3CL1 also increased the endothelium-derived expression of other chemokines including stromal cell-derived factor-1 (CXCL12) and macrophage inflammatory protein-2 (CXCL2) by activating the hypoxia-inducible factor-1 α pathway. These effects may further enhance osteoclastogenesis. A series of in vivo experiments confirmed that knockout of CX3CR1 in bone marrow-derived cells and functional inhibition of CX3CL1 using a specific neutralizing antibody significantly ameliorated osteoclastogenesis and prevented bone loss after IR. These results demonstrate that the de novo CX3CL1–CX3CR1 axis plays a pivotal role in osteoclast recruitment and subsequent bone resorption, and verify its therapeutic potential as a new target for anti-resorptive treatment.