Protection From Glucocorticoid-Induced Osteoporosis by Anti-Catabolic Signaling in the Absence of Sost/Sclerostin

Amy Y. Sato, Meloney Cregor, Jesus Delgado-Calle, Keith W. Condon, Matthew R. Allen, Munro Peacock, Lilian I. Plotkin, Teresita Bellido

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Excess of glucocorticoids, either due to disease or iatrogenic, increases bone resorption and decreases bone formation and is a leading cause of osteoporosis and bone fractures worldwide. Improved therapeutic strategies are sorely needed. We investigated whether activating Wnt/β-catenin signaling protects against the skeletal actions of glucocorticoids, using female mice lacking the Wnt/β-catenin antagonist and bone formation inhibitor Sost. Glucocorticoids decreased the mass, deteriorated the microarchitecture, and reduced the structural and material strength of bone in wild-type (WT), but not in Sost–/– mice. The high bone mass exhibited by Sost–/– mice is due to increased bone formation with unchanged resorption. However, unexpectedly, preservation of bone mass and strength in Sost–/– mice was due to prevention of glucocorticoid-induced bone resorption and not to restoration of bone formation. In WT mice, glucocorticoids increased the expression of Sost and the number of sclerostin-positive osteocytes, and altered the molecular signature of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway by decreasing the expression of genes associated with both anti-catabolism, including osteoprotegerin (OPG), and anabolism/survival, such as cyclin D1. In contrast in Sost–/– mice, glucocorticoids did not decrease OPG but still reduced cyclin D1. Thus, in the context of glucocorticoid excess, activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling by Sost/sclerostin deficiency sustains bone integrity by opposing bone catabolism despite markedly reduced bone formation and increased apoptosis. This crosstalk between glucocorticoids and Wnt/β-catenin signaling could be exploited therapeutically to halt resorption and bone loss induced by glucocorticoids and to inhibit the exaggerated bone formation in diseases of unwanted hyperactivation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1791-1802
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Bone and Mineral Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016



ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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