Osteoclasts (OCLs) in Paget's disease are markedly increased in number and size, have increased numbers of nuclei per multinucleated cell, and demonstrate increased resorption capacity and increased sensitivity to 1,25- (OH)2D3, the active form of vitamin D. These cells also contain nuclear inclusions, reminiscent of those seen in paramyxovirus-infected cells, which cross-react with antibodies to measles virus nucleocapsid (MVNP) antigen. To elucidate the role of MV in the abnormal OCL phenotype of Paget's disease, we transduced normal OCL precursors with retroviral vectors expressing MVNP and the MV matrix (MVM) genes. The transduced cells were then cultured with 1,25- (OH)2D3 for 14 or 21 days to induce formation of OCL-like multinucleated cells. The MVNP-transduced cells formed increased numbers of multinucleated cells, which contained many more nuclei and had increased resorption capacity compared with multinucleated cells derived from empty vector-transduced (EV- transduced) and MVM-transduced or normal bone marrow cells. Furthermore, MVNP-transduced cells showed increased sensitivity to 1,25-(OH)2D3, and formed OCLs at concentrations of 1,25-(OH)2D3 that were 1 log lower than that required for normal, EV-transduced, or MVM-transduced cells. These results demonstrate that expression of the MVNP gene in normal OCL precursors stimulates OCL formation and induces OCLs that express a phenotype similar to that of pagetic OCLs. These results support a potential pathophysiologic role for MV infection in the abnormal OCL activity and morphology that are characteristic of pagetic OCLs.
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