Osteoporosis and obesity result from disturbed osteogenic and adipogenic differentiation and present emerging challenges for our aging society. Because of the regulatory role of Thy-1 in mesenchyme-derived fibroblasts, we investigated the impact of Thy-1 expression on mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) fate between osteogenic and adipogenic differentiation and consequences for bone formation and adipose tissue development in vivo. MSCs from Thy-1-deficient mice have decreased osteoblast differentiation and increased adipogenic differentiation compared to MSCs from wild-type mice. Consistently, Thy-1-deficient mice exhibited decreased bone volume and bone formation rate with elevated cortical porosity, resulting in lower bone strength. In parallel, body weight, subcutaneous/epigonadal fat mass, and bone fat volume were increased. Thy-1 deficiency was accompanied by reduced expression of specific Wnt ligands with simultaneous increase of the Wnt inhibitors sclerostin and dickkopf-1 and an altered responsiveness to Wnt. We demonstrated that disturbed bone remodeling in osteoporosis and dysregulated adipose tissue accumulation in patients with obesity were mirrored by reduced serum Thy-1 concentrations. Our findings provide new insights into the mutual regulation of bone formation and obesity and open new perspectives to monitor and to interfere with the dysregulated balance of adipogenesis and osteogenesis in obesity and osteoporosis.
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