Retinoic acid and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 stimulate osteoclast formation by different mechanisms

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Colleges, School and Institutes


The effects of retinoic acid (RA) and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25-(OH)2D3 on osteoclast formation were examined in intact fetal long bones of different ages/developmental stages maintained in organ culture using a chemically defined medium with or without the presence of serum. Besides stimulating bone resorption, RA and 1,25-(OH)2D3 increased the number of osteoclasts in 19-day-old fetal rat tibiae. Likewise, these bone-resorbing agents induced and stimulated osteoclast formation in 19- and 18-day-old metatarsal bones which were osteoclast-free at the beginning of the culture. The response to 1,25-(OH)2D3 was greatly enhanced by 10% fetal bovine serum (FBS) irrespective of the developmental stage of the long bone. The response to RA was not. Light microscopic autoradiography after labeling of the cultures with tritiated thymidine showed that both RA and 1,25-(OH)2D3 induced osteoclast differentiation from proliferating and postmitotic precursors. However, neither agent was able to stimulate proliferation of osteoclast progenitor cells in the older bones (19 days). Studies on the formation of osteoclast-like (tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase positive) cells in bone marrow cultures indicated that FBS was a potent inducer of osteoclast-like cell formation. In the presence of FBS, 1,25-(OH)2D3 significantly stimulated this response, but RA did not. The results demonstrate that although both RA and 1,25-(OH)2D3 stimulate osteoclast formation from proliferating and postmitotic precursors in long bones in vitro, they do so by different mechanisms.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-9
Number of pages7
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1990


  • Animals, Bone and Bones, Calcium, Cell Count, Osteoclasts, Aging, Cell Nucleus, Autoradiography, Calcium Radioisotopes, Calcitriol, Rats, Inbred Strains, Rats, Bone Marrow Cells, Cells, Cultured, Tretinoin, Organ Culture Techniques