Galanin treatment offsets the inhibition of bone formation and downregulates the increase in mouse calvarial expression of TNFα and GalR2 mRNA induced by chronic daily injections of an injurious vehicle Academic Article uri icon


  • We have previously shown that after bone fracture, galanin (GAL) and GAL receptor expression is increased in osteoblast-like cells of callus; however, the role of elevated GAL/GAL receptors in this instance of bone injury is not known. We hypothesize that in injury, GAL may facilitate bone formation by suppressing the production of cytokines such as TNFalpha and IL-1alpha, thereby affecting bone collagen formation and collagenolysis by key matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). In studies to explore this hypothesis, we used a mouse calvarial injection model to (1) investigate whether mild injury caused by a daily subcutaneous injection of a glycerol-containing vehicle onto calvaria affected osteoblast/bone formation-associated histomorphometric parameters and gene expression (mRNA encoding GAL, GAL receptors, TNFalpha, IL-1beta, collagen type I, MMP-2 and -13) compared to non-injected, control mice and (2) determine the effect of GAL+vehicle treatment on these entities. Five groups of 4-week-old mice were used: a non-injected control group; a vehicle (50/50 solution of 10 mM PBS+0.025% BSA/5.4 M glycerol)-treated group; and 3 GAL-treated groups (0.2, 2 and 20 ng doses). Solutions were injected subcutaneously onto calvaria in a 10 mul volume, every day for 2 weeks. Vehicle injection reduced calvarial periosteal osteoblast cell height (P<0.001), osteoblast number (P<0.001) and osteoid thickness (P<0.01), relative to values in non-injected animals at 2 weeks. Vehicle injection also inhibited BFR in this periosteal bone relative to values in non-injected animals at both 1 and 2 weeks (P<0.05 and P<0.001, respectively). Increasing concentrations of GAL reversed the above-listed inhibitory effects caused by vehicle. This reversal was demonstrated by a dose-dependent effect of GAL on osteoblast cell height (Pearson's r=0.330; P<0.05), osteoblast number (Pearson's r=0.715; P=0.000), osteoid thickness (Pearson's r=0.516; P=0.000) and BFR (Pearson's r=0.525; P<0.05) after 2 weeks of GAL+vehicle treatment; with the 20 ng/day GAL+vehicle injection schedule returning these measured parameters toward non-injected control values. All GAL+vehicle treatments had no effect on calvarial expression of GAL, GALR1, GALR3, collagen type 1 and MMP-2 mRNAs compared to levels in vehicle-injected controls. GAL treatment did, however, produce dose-dependent effects on calvarial expression of GALR2 (Pearson's r=0.763; P=0.000), MMP-13 (Pearson's r=0.806; P=0.000), IL-1beta (Pearson's r=0.807; P=0.000) and TNFalpha (Pearson's r=0.542; P=0.000) mRNAs with 20 ng/day of GAL+vehicle producing the strongest reversal of vehicle-associated changes. Thus, the 20 ng/day GAL+vehicle regimen offset the inhibition of osteoblastic activity, and therefore bone formation caused by daily glycerol-containing vehicle injection. This effect on bone formation may be due in part to the peptide suppressing the formation and associated activity of TNFalpha, IL-1beta and MMP-13, as TNFalpha and IL-1beta are known inhibitors of bone formation and MMP-13 is involved in collagenolysis. Furthermore, these effects may be due to the action of GAL via GALR2, as it was the only GAL receptor affected by this GAL treatment regimen. These results indicate that GAL can facilitate bone formation associated with injury and reveal potential efficacy for GAL in treating osseous conditions where bone formation may be inhibited due to excess TNFalpha and IL-1beta production.

publication date

  • April 2007

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