PKC-δ deficiency in B cells displays osteopenia accompanied with upregulation of RANKL expression and osteoclast-osteoblast uncoupling

Cell Death Dis. 2020 Sep 16;11(9):762. doi: 10.1038/s41419-020-02947-3.


PKC-δ is an important molecule for B-cell proliferation and tolerance. B cells have long been recognized to play a part in osteoimmunology and pathological bone loss. However, the role of B cells with PKC-δ deficiency in bone homeostasis and the underlying mechanisms are unknown. We generated mice with PKC-δ deletion selectively in B cells by crossing PKC-δ-loxP mice with CD19-Cre mice. We studied their bone phenotype using micro-CT and histology. Next, immune organs were obtained and analyzed. Western blotting was used to determine the RANKL/OPG ratio in vitro in B-cell cultures, ELISA assay and immunohistochemistry were used to analyze in vivo RANKL/OPG balance in serum and bone sections respectively. Finally, we utilized osteoclastogenesis to study osteoclast function via hydroxyapatite resorption assay, and isolated primary calvaria osteoblasts to investigate osteoblast proliferation and differentiation. We also investigated osteoclast and osteoblast biology in co-culture with B-cell supernatants. We found that mice with PKC-δ deficiency in B cells displayed an osteopenia phenotype in the trabecular and cortical compartment of long bones. In addition, PKC-δ deletion resulted in changes of trabecular bone structure in association with activation of osteoclast bone resorption and decrease in osteoblast parameters. As expected, inactivation of PKC-δ in B cells resulted in changes in spleen B-cell number, function, and distribution. Consistently, the RANKL/OPG ratio was elevated remarkably in B-cell culture, in the serum and in bone specimens after loss of PKC-δ in B cells. Finally, in vitro analysis revealed that PKC-δ ablation suppressed osteoclast differentiation and function but co-culture with B-cell supernatant reversed the suppression effect, as well as impaired osteoblast proliferation and function, indicative of osteoclast-osteoblast uncoupling. In conclusion, PKC-δ plays an important role in the interplay between B cells in the immune system and bone cells in the pathogenesis of bone lytic diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes / enzymology
  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • B-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Bone Diseases, Metabolic / metabolism*
  • Bone Diseases, Metabolic / pathology
  • Bone Resorption / metabolism*
  • Bone Resorption / pathology
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Osteoblasts / metabolism*
  • Osteoblasts / pathology
  • Osteoclasts / metabolism*
  • Osteoclasts / pathology
  • Protein Kinase C-delta / deficiency*
  • RANK Ligand / biosynthesis
  • RANK Ligand / metabolism*
  • Up-Regulation


  • RANK Ligand
  • Tnfsf11 protein, mouse
  • Protein Kinase C-delta