Molecular and cellular mechanisms of vitamin D3 protection in experimental prednisolone-induced osteoporosis
Background. Osteoporosis is the most common side effect of glucocorticoid (GC) therapy. Vitamin D is known to play a crucial role in bone remodeling, but the precise molecular mechanisms of its action on GC-induced impairments of cytokine systems, in particular RANK (receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B)/RANKL (RANK ligand)/OPG (osteoprotegerin), are still controversial. Thus, the purpose of the study was to evaluate GC-induced changes in the RANK/RANKL/OPG system and osteocalcin synthesis in rat bone depending on vitamin D bioavailability and vitamin D receptor (VDR) expression. Materials and methods. Female Wistar rats received prednisolone (5 mg/kg b.w.) with or without 100 IU of vitamin D3 (for 30 days). The levels of VDR, osteocalcin, RANK, RANKL and OPG in bone tissue were determined by western blotting. Blood serum 25OHD was assayed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The levels of Ca2+, Pi, activity of alkaline phosphatase (AP) and its bone isoenzyme were determined using spectrophotometry. Results. Prednisolone significantly lowered 25OHD content in the blood serum and VDR level in bone tissue that has been accompanied by an elevation of the AP bone isoenzyme activity in the blood serum, hypocalcemia and hypophosphatemia. A significant decrease in the expression of osteocalcin, a well-known marker of bone formation, was also observed. GC-induced disturbances in vitamin D status led to a reduction of the RANK and OPG level, while RANKL level was unaffected. Vitamin D3 administration restored 25OHD and VDR levels that resulted in amelioration of GC-induced changes in bone tissue and normalization of mineral metabolism through elevation of RANK, OPG and osteocalcin levels. Conclusions. Prednisolone-induced imbalance in the RANK/RANKL/OPG and osteocalcin systems is related to the reduction of vitamin D bioavailability and impairments in VDR signaling. Thus, normalization of vitamin D bioavailability might be perspective in reducing the negative effects of GC on bone homeostasis.
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