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Osteocyte- and late Osteoblast-derived NOTUM Reduces Cortical Bone Mass in Mice

Authors: Nilsson, Karin H.; Henning, Petra; El Shahawy, Maha; Wu, Jianyao; Koskela, Antti; Tuukkanen, Juha; Perret, Christine; Lerner, Ulf H; Ohlsson, Claes; Movérare-Skrtic, Sofia

Online: https://journals.physiology.org/doi/10.1152/ajpendo.00565.2020

Issue: Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2021 May 1;320(5):E967-E975.


Osteoporosis is a common skeletal disease, with increased risk of fractures. Currently available osteoporosis treatments reduce the risk of vertebral fractures, mainly dependent on trabecular bone, whereas the effect on non-vertebral fractures, mainly dependent on cortical bone, is less pronounced. WNT signaling is a crucial regulator of bone homeostasis, and the activity of WNTs is inhibited by NOTUM, a secreted WNT lipase. We previously demonstrated that conditional inactivation of NOTUM in all osteoblast lineage cells increases the cortical but not the trabecular bone mass. The aim of the present study was to determine if NOTUM increasing cortical bone is derived from osteoblast precursors/early osteoblasts or from osteocytes/late osteoblasts. First, we demonstrated Notum mRNA expression in Dmp1-expressing osteocytes and late osteoblasts in cortical bone using in situ hybridization. We then developed a mouse model with inactivation of NOTUM in Dmp1 expressing osteocytes and late osteoblasts (Dmp1-creNotum flox/flox mice). We observed that the Dmp1-creNotum flox/flox mice displayed a substantial reduction of Notum mRNA in cortical bone, resulting in increased cortical bone mass and decreased cortical porosity in femur, but no change in trabecular bone volume fraction (BV/TV) in femur or in the lumbar vertebrae L5 in Dmp1-creNotum flox/flox mice as compared to control mice. In conclusion, osteocytes and late osteoblasts are the principal source of NOTUM in cortical bone, and NOTUM derived from osteocytes/late osteoblasts reduces cortical bone mass. These findings demonstrate that inhibition of osteocyte/late osteoblast-derived NOTUM might be an interesting pharmacological target to increase cortical bone mass and reduce non-vertebral fracture risk.