Mohammad Shahnazari, Thomas Wronski, Vivian Chu, Alyssa Williams, Alicia Leeper, Marina Stolina, Hua Zhu Ke and Bernard Halloran
Sclerostin functions as an antagonist to Wnt signaling and inhibits bone-forming activity. We studied the effects of skeletal unloading and treatment with sclerostin antibody (Scl-Ab) on mesenchymal stem cell, osteoprogenitor and osteoclast precursor pools, and their relationship to bone formation and resorption. Male C57BL/6 mice (5-months-old) were hind limb unloaded for 1 week or allowed normal ambulation and treated with Scl-Ab (25 mg/kg, s.c. injections on days 1 and 4) or placebo. Unloading decreased the serum concentration of bone formation marker P1NP (−35 %), number of colony-forming units (CFU) (−38 %), alkaline phosphatase–positive CFUs (CFU-AP+) (−51 %), and calcified nodules (−35 %); and resulted in a fourfold increase in the number of osteoclast precursors. The effects of Scl-Ab treatment on unloaded and normally loaded mice were nearly identical; Scl-Ab increased serum P1NP and the number of CFU, CFU-AP+, and calcified nodules in ex vivo cultures; and increased osteoblast and bone mineralizing surfaces in vivo. Although the marrow-derived osteoclast precursor population increased with Scl-Ab, the bone osteoclast surface did not change, and the serum concentration of osteoclast activity marker TRACP5b decreased. Our data suggest that short-term Scl-Ab treatment can prevent the decrease in osteoprogenitor population associated with skeletal unloading and increase osteoblast surface and bone mineralizing surface in unloaded animals. The anabolic effects of Scl-Ab treatment on bone are preserved during skeletal unloading. These findings suggest that Scl-Ab treatment can both increase bone formation and decrease bone resorption, and provide a new means for prevention and treatment of disuse osteoporosis.