Prevention of glucocorticoid induced-apoptosis of osteoblasts and osteocytes by protecting against endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in vitro and in vivo in female mice

Bone. 2015 Apr;73:60-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2014.12.012. Epub 2014 Dec 19.


Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress is associated with increased reactive oxygen species (ROS), results from accumulation of misfolded/unfolded proteins, and can trigger apoptosis. ER stress is alleviated by phosphorylation of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2α (eIF2α), which inhibits protein translation allowing the ER to recover, thus promoting cell viability. We investigated whether osteoblastic cell apoptosis induced by glucocorticoids (GCs) is due to induction of ROS/ER stress and whether inhibition of eIF2α dephosphorylation promotes survival opposing the deleterious effects of GC in vitro and in vivo. Apoptosis of osteocytic MLO-Y4 and osteoblastic OB-6 cells induced by dexamethasone was abolished by ROS inhibitors. Like GC, the ER stress inducing agents brefeldin A and tunicamycin induced osteoblastic cell apoptosis. Salubrinal or guanabenz, specific inhibitors of eIF2α dephosphorylation, blocked apoptosis induced by either GC or ER stress inducers. Moreover, GC markedly decreased mineralization in OB-6 cells or primary osteoblasts; and salubrinal or guanabenz increased mineralization and prevented the inhibitory effect of GC. Furthermore, salubrinal (1 mg/kg/day) abolished osteoblast and osteocyte apoptosis in cancellous and cortical bone and partially prevented the loss of BMD at all sites and the decreased vertebral cancellous bone formation induced by treatment with prednisolone for 28 days (1.4 mg/kg/day). We conclude that part of the pro-apoptotic actions of GC on osteoblastic cells is mediated through ER stress, and that inhibition of eIF2α dephosphorylation protects from GC-induced apoptosis of osteoblasts and osteocytes in vitro and in vivo and from the deleterious effects of GC on the skeleton.

Keywords: Endoplasmic reticulum stress; Glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis; Osteoblasts; Osteocytes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / pharmacology*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Mice
  • Osteoblasts / cytology
  • Osteoblasts / drug effects*
  • Osteocytes / cytology
  • Osteocytes / drug effects*
  • Phosphorylation


  • Glucocorticoids