Genetic manipulation of the ghrelin signaling system in male mice reveals bone compartment specificity of acylated and unacylated ghrelin in the regulation of bone remodeling


Patric JD Delhanty, Martijn van der Velde, Bram CJ van der Eerden, Yuxiang Sun, Julia MM Geminn, Aart-Jan van der Lely, Roy G Smith, and Johannes PTM van Leeuwen


Ghrelin receptor deficient (Ghsr-/-) mice, which lack acylated ghrelin (AG) signaling, retain a metabolic response to unacylated ghrelin (UAG). Recently, we showed that Ghsr-deficiency affects bone metabolism. The aim of this study was to further establish the impact of AG and UAG on bone metabolism. We compared bone metabolism in Ghsr-/- (lacking only AG signaling) and ghrelin deficient (Ghrl-/-; both AG and UAG deficient) male mice. Ghrl-/- mice had lower cortical bone mass, while Ghsr-/- mice had lower trabecular bone mass. This demonstrates bone compartment-specific effects of AG and a role for UAG in bone metabolism. Also, Ghrl-/- but not Ghsr-/- mice had increased bone formation rate and increased osteogenic stem cell numbers in their bone marrow. In ex vivo bone marrow cultures both AG and UAG inhibited osteoblast differentiation. This indicated that bone resorption must be increased in these mice. Accordingly, osteoclastogenesis rate was faster in bone marrow cultures from Ghsr-/- and Ghrl-/- mice, and osteoclast formation was inhibited by AG signaling and partially suppressed by UAG. In osteoblast cultures, AG markedly induced osteoprotegerin gene expression and both peptides reduced RANKL/osteoprotegerin ratio. These data describe unique cell-type specific effects of AG and UAG within a single tissue, supporting a tight and complex control of bone formation and resorption as well as a link between nutrition and bone metabolism. The balance between AG and UAG actions in the bone marrow may lead to bone compartmental specific effects.

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