Optimizing tamoxifen-inducible Cre/loxp system to reduce tamoxifen effect on bone turnover in long bones of young mice


Zhendong A. Zhong, Weihua Sun, Haiyan Chen, Hongliang Zhang, Yu-an E. Lay, Nancy E. Lane, Wei Yao


Abstract For tamoxifen-dependent Cre recombinase, also known as CreER recombinase, tamoxifen (TAM) is used to activate the Cre to generate time- and tissue-specific mouse mutants. TAM is a potent CreER system inducer; however, TAM is also an active selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) that can influence bone homeostasis. The purpose of this study was to optimize the TAM dose for Cre recombinase activation while minimizing the effects of TAM on bone turnover in young growing mice.

Methods To evaluate the effects of TAM on bone turnover and bone mass, 1-month-old male wild-type mice were intraperitoneally injected with TAM at 0, 1, 10 or 100 mg/kg/day for four consecutive days. The distal femurs were analyzed one month after the last TAM injection by microCT, mechanical test, and surface-based bone histomorphometry. Similar doses of TAM were used in Col1 (2.3 kb)-CreERT2; mT/mG reporter mice to evaluate the dose-dependent efficacy of Cre-ER activation in bone tissue.

Results A TAM dose of 100 mg/kg × 4 days significantly increased trabecular bone volume/total volume (BV/TV) of the distal femur, femur length, bone strength, and serum bone turnover markers compared to the 0 mg control group. In contrast, TAM doses ≤ 10 mg/kg did not significantly change any of these parameters compared to the 0 mg group, although a higher bone strength was observed in the 10 mg group. Surface-based histomorphometry revealed that the 100 mg/kg dose of TAM dose significantly increased trabecular bone formation and decreased periosteal bone formation at 1-week post-TAM treatment. Using the reporter mouse model Col1-CreERT2; mT/mG, we found that 10 mg/kg TAM induced Col1-CreERT2 activity in bone at a comparable level to the 100 mg/kg dose.

Conclusions TAM treatment at 100 mg/kg/day × 4 days significantly affects bone homeostasis, resulting in an anabolic bone effect on trabecular bone in 1-month-old male mice. However, a lower dose of TAM at 10 mg/kg/day × 4 days can yield similar Col1-CreERT2 induction efficacy with minimum effects on bone turnover in young male mice.

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