Bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are critical regulators of postnatal bone homeostasis. Osteoporosis is characterized by bone volume and strength deterioration, partly due to MSC dysfunction. Cyclin-dependent kinase 8 (CDK8) belongs to the transcription-related CDK family. Here, CDK8 in MSCs was identified as important for bone homeostasis. CDK8 level was increased in aged MSCs along with the association with aging-related signals. Mouse genetic studies revealed that CDK8 in MSCs plays a crucial role in bone resorption and homeostasis. Mechanistically, CDK8 in MSCs extrinsically controls osteoclastogenesis through the signal transducer and transcription 1 (STAT1)-receptor activator of the nuclear factor κ Β ligand (RANKL) axis. Moreover, aged MSCs have high osteoclastogenesis-supporting activity, partly through a CDK8-dependent manner. Finally, pharmacological inhibition of CDK8 effectively repressed MSC-dependent osteoclastogenesis and prevented ovariectomy-induced osteoclastic activation and bone loss. These findings highlight that the CDK8-STAT1-RANKL axis in MSCs could play a crucial role in bone resorption and homeostasis.
Keywords: CDK8; RANKL; mesenchymal stem cells; osteoporosis.
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