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Glucocorticoids (GC) are used for the treatment of inflammatory diseases, including various forms of arthritis. However, their use is limited, amongst others, by adverse effects on bone. The Wnt and bone formation inhibitor sclerostin was recently implicated in the pathogenesis of GC-induced osteoporosis. However, data are ambiguous. The aim of this study was to assess the regulation of sclerostin by GC using several mouse models with high GC levels and two independent cohorts of patients treated with GC. Male 24-week-old C57BL/6 and 18-week-old DBA/1 mice exposed to GC and 12-week-old mice with endogenous hypercortisolism displayed reduced bone formation as indicated by reduced levels of P1NP and increased serum sclerostin levels. The expression of sclerostin in femoral bone tissue and GC-treated bone marrow stromal cells, however, was not consistently altered. In contrast, GC dose- and time-dependently suppressed sclerostin at mRNA and protein level in human mesenchymal stromal cells, and this effect was GC receptor-dependent. In line with the human cell culture data, patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA, n=101) and polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR, n=21) who were exposed to GC had lower serum levels of sclerostin than healthy age- and sex-matched controls (-40%, p<0.01 and -26.5%, p<0.001, respectively). In summary, sclerostin appears to be differentially regulated by GC in mice and humans as it is suppressed by GCs in humans but is not consistently altered in mice. Further studies are required to delineate the differences between GC regulation of sclerostin in mice and humans and assess whether sclerostin mediates GC-induced osteoporosis in humans.

Original publication

DOI

10.1530/EC-19-0104

Type

Journal article

Journal

Endocr Connect

Publication Date

01/06/2019