Theranostics 2017; 7(18):4498-4516. doi:10.7150/thno.17949

Research Paper

Autophagy Maintains the Function of Bone Marrow Mesenchymal Stem Cells to Prevent Estrogen Deficiency-Induced Osteoporosis

Meng Qi1,2*, Liqiang Zhang1,2*, Yang Ma1,2*, Yi Shuai1,2, Liya Li1,2, Kefu Luo1,3, Wenjia Liu1,2✉, Yan Jin1,2✉

1. State Key Laboratory of Military Stomatology & National Clinical Research Center for Oral Diseases & Shaanxi International Joint Research Center for Oral Diseases, Center for Tissue Engineering, School of Stomatology, Fourth Military Medical University, Xi'an, China;
2. Xi'an Institute of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, Xi'an, China;
3. State Key Laboratory of Military Stomatology & National Clinical Research Center for Oral Diseases & Shaanxi Clinical Research Center for Oral Diseases, Department of Prosthodontics, School of Stomatology, The Fourth Military Medical University, Xi'an, China.
* These authors contributed equally to the study.

Abstract

Rationale: The impaired function of endogenous bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMMSCs) is a determinant in the development of osteoporosis (OP). Recent researches have proved that autophagy plays an important role in maintenance of skeletal phenotype. However, whether autophagy affects the development of OP through regulating the function of BMMSCs remains elusive.

Methods: Ovariectomy (OVX)-induced OP model and sham model were established in 8-week-old C57 mice. The differentiation and immunoregulation properties of BMMSCs from two models were examined by osteogenic/adipogenic induction in vitro and treatment of a dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced mice colitis model in vivo. We evaluated autophagy activity in sham and OVX BMMSCs by quantitative real time-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR), western blotting, laser confocal microscopy and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Finally, to testify the effects of rapamycin, short hairpin RNA (shRNA) -BECN1 (shBECN1) and shRNA-ATG5 (shATG5), we performed Alizarin Red staining and Oil Red O staining to detect lineage differentiations of BMMSCs, and carried out micro-CT, calcein staining and Oil Red O staining to assess the skeletal phenotype.

Results: BMMSCs from OVX-induced OP model mice exhibited decreased osteogenic differentiation, increased adipogenic differentiation and impaired immunoregulatory capacity. Furthermore, autophagy decreased both in bone marrow and BMMSCs of osteoporotic mice. Importantly, regulation of autophagy directly affects the functions of BMMSCs, including differentiation and immunoregulatory capacities. Moreover, treatment with rapamycin rescued the function of endogenous BMMSCs and attenuated the osteoporotic phenotype in OVX mice.

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that autophagy regulates the regenerative function of BMMSCs and controls the development of OP. The restoration of autophagy by rapamycin may provide an effective therapeutic method for osteoporosis.

Keywords: autophagy, osteoporosis, bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells, regenerative properties.

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How to cite this article:
Qi M, Zhang L, Ma Y, Shuai Y, Li L, Luo K, Liu W, Jin Y. Autophagy Maintains the Function of Bone Marrow Mesenchymal Stem Cells to Prevent Estrogen Deficiency-Induced Osteoporosis. Theranostics 2017; 7(18):4498-4516. doi:10.7150/thno.17949. Available from http://www.thno.org/v07p4498.htm