Thomas Lind, Ann-Marie Gustafson, Gabriela Calounova, Lijuan Hu, Annica Rasmusson, Kenneth B. Jonsson, Sara Wernersson, Magnus Åbrink, Göran Andersson, Sune Larsson, Håkan Melhus, Gunnar Pejler
Here we addressed the potential impact of chymase, a mast-cell restricted protease, on mouse bone phenotype. We show that female mice lacking the chymase Mcpt4 acquired a persistent expansion of diaphyseal bone in comparison with wild type controls, reaching a 15% larger diaphyseal cross sectional area at 12 months of age. Mcpt4-/- mice also showed increased levels of a bone anabolic serum marker and higher periosteal bone formation rate. However, they were not protected from experimental osteoporosis, suggesting that chymase regulates normal bone homeostasis rather than the course of osteoporosis. Further, the absence of Mcpt4 resulted in age-dependent upregulation of numerous genes important for bone formation but no effects on osteoclast activity. In spite of the latter, Mcpt4-/- bones had increased cortical porosity and reduced endocortical mineralization. Mast cells were found periosteally and, notably, bone-proximal mast cells in Mcpt4-/- mice were degranulated to a larger extent than in wild type mice. Hence, chymase regulates degranulation of bone mast cells, which could affect the release of mast cell-derived factors influencing bone remodelling. Together, these findings reveal a functional impact of mast cell chymase on bone. Further studies exploring the possibility of using chymase inhibitors as a strategy to increase bone volume may be warranted.