Ionizing Radiation Activates Mitochondrial Function in Osteoclasts and Causes Bone Loss in Young Adult Male Mice

Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Jan 8;23(2):675. doi: 10.3390/ijms23020675.


The damaging effects of ionizing radiation (IR) on bone mass are well-documented in mice and humans and are most likely due to increased osteoclast number and function. However, the mechanisms leading to inappropriate increases in osteoclastic bone resorption are only partially understood. Here, we show that exposure to multiple fractions of low-doses (10 fractions of 0.4 Gy total body irradiation [TBI]/week, i.e., fractionated exposure) and/or a single exposure to the same total dose of 4 Gy TBI causes a decrease in trabecular, but not cortical, bone mass in young adult male mice. This damaging effect was associated with highly activated bone resorption. Both osteoclast differentiation and maturation increased in cultures of bone marrow-derived macrophages from mice exposed to either fractionated or singular TBI. IR also increased the expression and enzymatic activity of mitochondrial deacetylase Sirtuin-3 (Sirt3)-an essential protein for osteoclast mitochondrial activity and bone resorption in the development of osteoporosis. Osteoclast progenitors lacking Sirt3 exposed to IR exhibited impaired resorptive activity. Taken together, targeting impairment of osteoclast mitochondrial activity could be a novel therapeutic strategy for IR-induced bone loss, and Sirt3 is likely a major mediator of this effect.

Keywords: Sirtuin-3; bone loss; bone resorption; ionizing radiation; mitochondria; osteoclast.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Resorption / pathology*
  • Cancellous Bone / pathology
  • Cancellous Bone / radiation effects
  • Cell Respiration / radiation effects
  • Dose Fractionation, Radiation
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / radiation effects*
  • Osteoclasts / metabolism*
  • Osteoclasts / radiation effects*
  • Radiation, Ionizing*
  • Sirtuin 3 / metabolism


  • Sirtuin 3