Release of CXCL12 From Apoptotic Skeletal Cells Contributes to Bone Growth Defects Following Dexamethasone Therapy in Rats

J Bone Miner Res. 2019 Feb;34(2):310-326. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.3597. Epub 2018 Nov 5.


Dexamethasone (Dex) is known to cause significant bone growth impairment in childhood. Although previous studies have suggested roles of osteocyte apoptosis in the enhanced osteoclastic recruitment and local bone loss, whether it is so in the growing bone following Dex treatment requires to be established. The current study addressed the potential roles of chemokine CXCL12 in chondroclast/osteoclast recruitment and bone defects following Dex treatment. Significant apoptosis was observed in cultured mature ATDC5 chondrocytes and IDG-SW3 osteocytes after 48 hours of 10-6 M Dex treatment, and CXCL12 was identified to exhibit the most prominent induction in Dex-treated cells. Conditioned medium from the treated chondrocytes/osteocytes enhanced migration of RAW264.7 osteoclast precursor cells, which was significantly inhibited by the presence of the anti-CXCL12 neutralizing antibody. To investigate the roles of the induced CXCL12 in bone defects caused by Dex treatment, young rats were orally gavaged daily with saline or Dex at 1 mg/kg/day for 2 weeks, and received an intraperitoneal injection of anti-CXCL12 antibody or control IgG (1 mg/kg, three times per week). Aside from oxidative stress induction systemically, Dex treatment caused reductions in growth plate thickness, primary spongiosa height, and metaphysis trabecular bone volume, which are associated with induced chondrocyte/osteocyte apoptosis and enhanced chondroclast/osteoclast recruitment and osteoclastogenic differentiation potential. CXCL12 was induced in apoptotic growth plate chondrocytes and metaphyseal bone osteocytes. Anti-CXCL12 antibody supplementation considerably attenuated Dex-induced chondroclast/osteoclast recruitment and loss of growth plate cartilage and trabecular bone. CXCL12 neutralization did not affect bone marrow osteogenic potential, adiposity, and microvasculature. Thus, CXCL12 was identified as a potential molecular linker between Dex-induced skeletal cell apoptosis and chondroclastic/osteoclastic recruitment, as well as growth plate cartilage/bone loss, revealing a therapeutic potential of CXCL12 functional blockade in preventing bone growth defects during/after Dex treatment. © 2018 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.


Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Cancellous Bone* / growth & development
  • Cancellous Bone* / pathology
  • Cell Line
  • Chemokine CXCL12 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Chemokine CXCL12 / metabolism*
  • Dexamethasone / adverse effects*
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology
  • Growth Plate* / growth & development
  • Growth Plate* / pathology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • RAW 264.7 Cells
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • CXCL12 protein, rat
  • Chemokine CXCL12
  • Dexamethasone