Accentuated ovariectomy-induced bone loss and altered osteogenesis in heterozygous N-cadherin null mice

Fang Lai Chung, Su Li Cheng, Gabriel Mbalaviele, Christine Donsante, Marcus Watkins, Glenn L. Radice, Roberto Civitelli

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31 Scopus citations


Ovariectomy-induced bone loss is accentuated in mice with germline Cdh2 haploinsufficiency, the result of a decreased osteoblastogenesis in the face of normal osteoclast number. Reduced N-cadherin abundance in these mice decreases cell-cell adhesion and alters signaling pathways important for osteoblast commitment and differentiation, thus providing in vivo evidence that N-cadherin-mediated cell-cell interactions are involved in homeostatic responses to increased bone remodeling. Introduction: We have shown that targeted expression of a dominant negative truncated form of N-cadherin (Cdh2) delays acquisition of peak bone mass in mice and retards osteoblast differentiation. We tested the role of this molecule in the skeletal homeostatic response to ovariectomy in mice with germline Cdh2 haploinsufficiency. Materials and Methods: Heterozygous Cdh2 null (Cdh2+/-) and wildtype mice were ovariectomized and followed up to 13 weeks by in vivo radiodensitometric and ex vivo histologic assessment of bone mass and turnover. Cells isolated from wildtype and Cdh2+/- mice were used to determine the alterations in bone cell function produced by partial loss of N-cadherin. Results: Bone mass was not significantly different between Cdh2+/- and wildtype littermates, but on ovariectomy, bone loss in Cdh2+/- mice was initially slower, but with time it became significantly greater than in wildtype mice. This accentuated bone loss was associated with lower osteoblast number and serum osteocalcin levels, with no differences in bone resorption. Although development of calcified nodules was faster in calvaria cells isolated from Cdh2+/- mice relative to Cdh2+/+ cells, bone marrow osteogenic precursors were lower in the former than in the latter genotypes. Cdh2 expression was downregulated with differentiation in wildtype calvaria cells, whereas cadherin-11 abundance remained unchanged. Furthermore, cell-cell adhesion (post-confiuence) was decreased among heterozygous calvaria cells, as was cell proliferation (preconfluence), relative to wildtype cells. Finally, the abundance and cellular distribution of β-catenin was minimally decreased in Cdh2+/- cells, whereas mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling was more active in Cdh2 insufficient cells. Conclusions: Cdh2 is involved in the homeostatic bone formation response to ovariectomy, presumably by regulating osteoprogenitors number and differentiation through stabilization of cell-cell adhesion and/or signaling modulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1897-1906
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Bone and Mineral Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2006


  • Bone remodeling
  • Cell-cell adhesion
  • Osteoblast differentiation
  • Osteoporosis


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