Osteoclast TGF-β Receptor Signaling Induces Wnt1 Secretion and Couples Bone Resorption to Bone Formation

Megan M. Weivoda, Ming Ruan, Larry Pederson, Christine Hachfeld, Rachel A. Davey, Jeffrey D. Zajac, Jennifer J. Westendorf, Sundeep Khosla, Merry Jo Oursler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Osteoblast-mediated bone formation is coupled to osteoclast-mediated bone resorption. These processes become uncoupled with age, leading to increased risk for debilitating fractures. Therefore, understanding how osteoblasts are recruited to sites of resorption is vital to treating age-related bone loss. Osteoclasts release and activate TGF-β from the bone matrix. Here we show that osteoclast-specific inhibition of TGF-β receptor signaling in mice results in osteopenia due to reduced osteoblast numbers with no significant impact on osteoclast numbers or activity. TGF-β induced osteoclast expression of Wnt1, a protein crucial to normal bone formation, and this response was blocked by impaired TGF-β receptor signaling. Osteoclasts in aged murine bones had lower TGF-β signaling and Wnt1 expression in vivo. Ex vivo stimulation of osteoclasts derived from young or old mouse bone marrow macrophages showed no difference in TGF-β-induced Wnt1 expression. However, young osteoclasts expressed reduced Wnt1 when cultured on aged mouse bone chips compared to young mouse bone chips, consistent with decreased skeletal TGF-β availability with age. Therefore, osteoclast responses to TGF-β are essential for coupling bone resorption to bone formation, and modulating this pathway may provide opportunities to treat age-related bone loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-85
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Bone and Mineral Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • TGF-β
  • WNT1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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