Global Deletion of Sost Increases Intervertebral Disc Hydration But May Trigger Chondrogenesis
thesisposted on 07.05.2020, 20:51 by Tori Morgan Kroon
Intervertebral discs (IVD) degenerate earlier than many other musculoskeletal tissues and will continue to degenerate with aging. IVD degeneration affects up to 80 percent of the adult population and is a major contributing factor to low back pain. Anti-sclerostin antibody is an FDA-approved treatment for osteoporosis in postmenopausal women at high-risk for fracture and, as a systemic stimulant of the Wnt/LRP5/b-Catenin signaling pathway, may impact the IVD. Stabilization of b-Catenin in the IVD increases Wnt signaling and is anabolic to the extracellular matrix (ECM), while deletion of b-catenin or LRP5 decreases Wnt signaling and is catabolic to the ECM. Here, we hypothesized that a reduction of Sost would stimulate ECM anabolism. Lumbar and caudal (tail) IVD and vertebrae of Sost KO and WT (wildtype) mice (n=8 each) were harvested at 16 weeks of age and tested by MRI, histology, immunohistochemistry, Western Blot, qPCR, and microCT. Compared to WT, Sost KO reduced sclerostin protein and Sost gene expression. Next, Sost KO increased the hydration of the IVD and the proteoglycan stain in the nucleus pulposus and decreased the expression of genes associated with IVD degeneration, e.g., heat shock proteins. However, deletion of Sost was compensated by less unphosphorylated (active) b-Catenin protein in the cell nucleus, upregulation of Wnt signaling inhibitors Dkk1 and sFRP4, and catabolic ECM gene expression. Consequently, notochordal and early chondrocyte-like cells (CLCs) were replaced by mature CLCs. Overall, Sost deletion increased hydration and proteoglycan protein content, but activated a compensatory suppression of Wnt signaling that may trigger chondrogenesis and may potentially be iatrogenic to the IVD in the long-term.