Clarissa S. Craft, Wei Zou, Marcus Watkins, Susan Grimston, Michael D. Brodt, Thomas J. Broekelmann, Justin S. Weinbaum, Steven L. Teitelbaum, Richard A. Pierce, Roberto Civitelli, Matthew J. Silva and Robert P. Mecham
MAGP1 is an extracellular matrix protein that, in vertebrates, is a ubiquitous component of fibrillin-rich microfibrils. We previously reported that aged MAGP1-deficient mice (MAGP1Δ) develop lesions that are the consequence of spontaneous bone fracture. We now present a more defined bone phenotype found in MAGP1Δ mice. A longitudinal DEXA study demonstrated age-associated osteopenia in MAGP1Δ animals and μCT confirmed reduced bone mineral density in the trabecular and cortical bone. Further, MAGP1Δ mice have significantly less trabecular bone, the trabecular microarchitecture is more fragmented, and the diaphyseal cross-sectional area is significantly reduced. The remodeling defect seen in MAGP1Δ mice is likely not due to an osteoblast defect, because MAGP1Δ bone marrow stromal cells undergo osteoblastogenesis and form mineralized nodules. In vivo, MAGP1Δ mice exhibit normal osteoblast number, mineralized bone surface, and bone formation rate. Instead, our findings suggest increased bone resorption is responsible for the osteopenia. The number of osteoclasts derived from MAGP1Δ bone marrow macrophage cells is increased relative to the wild type, and osteoclast differentiation markers are expressed at earlier time points in MAGP1Δ cells. In vivo, MAGP1Δ mice have more osteoclasts lining the bone surface. RANKL (receptor activator of NF-κB ligand) expression is significantly higher in MAGP1Δ bone, and likely contributes to enhanced osteoclastogenesis. However, bone marrow macrophage cells from MAGP1Δ mice show a higher propensity than do wild-type cells to differentiate to osteoclasts in response to RANKL, suggesting that they are also primed to respond to osteoclast-promoting signals. Together, our findings suggest that MAGP1 is a regulator of bone remodeling, and its absence results in osteopenia associated with an increase in osteoclast number.