Tumor necrosis factor alpha-mediated joint destruction is inhibited by targeting osteoclasts with osteoprotegerin

Arthritis Rheum. 2002 Mar;46(3):785-92. doi: 10.1002/art.10097.


Objective: To study the effects of osteoclast-targeted therapies, such as osteoprotegerin (OPG) and pamidronate, on joint inflammation and bone destruction using a tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF alpha)-transgenic mouse model.

Methods: Mice were placed into 5 groups that received either OPG, pamidronate, a combination of both agents, infliximab as a positive control, or phosphate buffered saline as a negative control. Treatment was initiated at the onset of arthritis, continued over 6 weeks, and thereafter, the clinical, radiologic, and histologic outcomes were assessed.

Results: A significant improvement in clinical symptoms, as assessed by the reduction of paw swelling, was only found in the infliximab group, whereas all other treatment groups failed to show significant improvement. However, when assessing structural damage with radiographic analysis, a significant retardation of joint damage was evident in animals treated with OPG (55% reduction of erosions), pamidronate (50% reduction of erosions) the combination therapy of OPG and pamidronate (64% reduction of erosions), and with infliximab (66% reduction of erosions). Confirming these data, quantitative histologic analysis revealed a significant reduction in the size of bone erosions in all treatment groups (OPG 56%, pamidronate 53%, OPG and pamidronate 81%, and infliximab 46%) compared with the control group. Furthermore, a significant reduction of osteoclast numbers was seen in animals treated with OPG alone or in combination with pamidronate as well as in animals treated with infliximab.

Conclusion: These data suggest that OPG alone or in combination with bisphosphonates is an effective therapeutic tool for the prevention of TNF alpha-mediated destruction of bone by reducing the number of bone-resorbing cells in the inflammatory tissue.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use
  • Arthritis / diagnostic imaging
  • Arthritis / drug therapy*
  • Arthritis / etiology*
  • Arthritis / pathology
  • Arthrography
  • Buffers
  • Cell Count
  • Diphosphonates / therapeutic use
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Glycoproteins / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Infliximab
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic / genetics
  • Osteoclasts / drug effects*
  • Osteoclasts / pathology
  • Osteoprotegerin
  • Pamidronate
  • Phosphates
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / therapeutic use*
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor / therapeutic use
  • Sodium Chloride / therapeutic use
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / genetics
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / physiology*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Buffers
  • Diphosphonates
  • Glycoproteins
  • Osteoprotegerin
  • Phosphates
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor
  • TNFRSF11B protein, human
  • Tnfrsf11b protein, mouse
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Infliximab
  • Pamidronate