The promotion of osteoclastogenesis by sulfated hyaluronan through interference with osteoprotegerin and receptor activator of NF-κB ligand/osteoprotegerin complex formation

Biomaterials. 2013 Oct;34(31):7653-61. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2013.06.053. Epub 2013 Jul 17.


In order to improve bone regeneration, in particular in aged and multimorbid patients, the development of new adaptive biomaterials and their characterization in terms of their impact on bone biology is warranted. Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) such as hyaluronan (HA) are major extracellular matrix (ECM) components in bone and may display osteogenic properties that are potentially useful for biomaterial coatings. Using native and synthetically derived sulfate-modified HA, we evaluated how GAG sulfation modulates the activity of two main regulators of osteoclast function: receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL) and osteoprotegerin (OPG). GAGs were tested for their capability to bind to OPG and RANKL using surface plasmon resonance (SPR), ELISA and molecular modeling techniques. Results were validated in an in vitro model of osteoclastogenesis. Sulfated GAGs bound OPG but not RANKL in a sulfate-dependent manner. Furthermore, OPG pre-incubated with different GAGs displayed a sulfate- and dose-dependent loss in bioactivity, possibly due to competition of GAGs for the RANKL/OPG binding site revealing a potential GAG interaction site at the RANKL/OPG interface. In conclusion, high-sulfated GAGs might significantly control osteoclastogenesis via interference with the physiological RANKL/OPG complex formation. Whether these properties can be utilized to improve bone regeneration and fracture healing needs to be validated in vivo.

Keywords: Hyaluronic acid/hyaluronan (HA) sulfate; Osteoclast (OC); Osteoprotegerin (OPG); Receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL); Surface plasmon resonance (SPR).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Hyaluronic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Osteoclasts / cytology*
  • Osteoclasts / drug effects*
  • Osteoprotegerin / metabolism*
  • Receptor Activator of Nuclear Factor-kappa B / metabolism*
  • Surface Plasmon Resonance


  • Osteoprotegerin
  • Receptor Activator of Nuclear Factor-kappa B
  • Hyaluronic Acid