Accelerated cartilage resorption by chondroclasts during bone fracture healing in osteoprotegerin-deficient mice.
ABSTRACT Receptor activator of nuclear factor-kappaB ligand (RANKL) and osteoprotegerin (OPG), a decoy receptor of RANKL, maintain bone mass by regulating the differentiation of osteoclasts, which are bone-resorbing cells. Endochondral bone ossification and bone fracture healing involve cartilage resorption, a less well-understood process that is needed for replacement of cartilage by bone. Here we describe the role of OPG produced by chondrocytes in chondroclastogenesis. Fracture healing in OPG(-/-) mice showed faster union of the fractured bone, faster resorption of the cartilaginous callus, and an increased number of chondroclasts at the chondroosseous junctions compared with that in wild-type littermates. When a cultured pellet of OPG(-/-) chondrocytes was transplanted beneath the kidney capsule, the pellet recruited many chondroclasts. The pellet showed the ability to induce tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase-positive multinucleated cells from RAW 264.7 cells in vitro. Finally, OPG(-/-) chondrocytes (but not wild-type chondrocytes) cultured with spleen cells induced many tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase-positive multinucleated cells. The expression of RANKL and OPG in chondrocytes was regulated by several osteotropic factors including 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D(3), PTHrP, IL-1alpha, and TNF-alpha. Thus, local OPG produced by chondrocytes probably controls cartilage resorption as a negative regulator for chondrocyte-dependent chondroclastogenesis.