Calcium-containing crystals enhance receptor activator of nuclear factor κB ligand/macrophage colony-stimulating factor-mediated osteoclastogenesis via extracellular-signal-regulated kinase and p38 pathways

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OBJECTIVE: Diseases associated with calcium-containing crystal deposition can lead to local bone erosion. We aimed to determine whether calcium-containing crystal-hydroxyapatite, β-tricalcium phosphate and CPPD enhanced osteoclastogenesis and to define underlying mechanisms of action.

METHODS: Osteoclastogenesis was studied by culturing murine RAW 264.7 osteoclast precursor cells with RANK ligand (RANKL)/ M-CSF and/or calcium-containing crystals, and observing the tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP)-positive multinucleated cells and TRAP activity. Resorption pit formation was used to evaluate osteoclast activity. Real-time RT-PCR analysis revealed osteoclast marker genes, including TRAP, cathepsin K and calcitonin receptor (CTR). Western blotting was used to analyse the phosphorylation levels of signal transduction molecules.

RESULTS: Three kinds of calcium-containing crystal significantly enhanced RANKL/M-CSF-induced osteoclastogenesis in RAW 264.7 cells, as evidenced by the increased number of TRAP-positive multinucleated cells, TRAP activity and resorption pit formation in a dose-dependent manner. Hydroxyapatite, β-tricalcium phosphate and CPPD treatments significantly enhanced RANKL/M-CSF-induced mRNA expression of TRAP, cathepsin K and CTR. Moreover, the three kinds of calcium-containing crystal enhanced the phosphorylation of extracellular-signal-regulated kinase and p38 in RANKL/M-CSF-treated cells.

CONCLUSION: We concluded that calcium-containing crystals can promote osteoclastogenesis and bone resorption through the extracellular-signal-regulated kinase and p38 pathways. Together with synovial activation, this mechanism may be important in the pathogenesis of destructive arthropathies triggered by calcium-containing crystals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1913-1922
Number of pages10
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2015



  • calcium-containing crystals
  • extracellular-signal-regulated kinase
  • osteoclastogenesis
  • p38
  • receptor activator of nuclear factor kB ligand

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Medicine(all)
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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