Skeletal loading and unloading has a pronounced impact on bone remodeling, a process also regulated by insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) signaling. Skeletal unloading leads to resistance to the anabolic effect of IGF-1, while reloading after unloading restores responsiveness to IGF-1. However, a direct study of the importance of IGF-1 signaling in the skeletal response to mechanical loading remains to be tested. In this study, we assessed the skeletal response of osteoblast-specific Igf-1 receptor deficient (Igf-1r-/- ) mice to unloading and reloading. The mice were hindlimb unloaded for 14 days and then reloaded for 16 days. Igf-1r-/- mice displayed smaller cortical bone and diminished periosteal and endosteal bone formation at baseline. Periosteal and endosteal bone formation decreased with unloading in Igf-1r+/+ mice. However, the recovery of periosteal bone formation with reloading was completely inhibited in Igf-1r-/- mice, although reloading-induced endosteal bone formation was not hampered. These changes in bone formation resulted in the abolishment of the expected increase in total cross-sectional area with reloading in Igf-1r-/- mice compared to the control mice. These results suggest that the Igf-1r in mature osteoblasts has a critical role in periosteal bone formation in the skeletal response to mechanical loading.
Keywords: Insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor; osteoblasts; periosteal bone formation; reloading; unloading.