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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 1/2018

Sera of patients with axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) enhance osteoclastogenic potential of monocytes isolated from healthy individuals

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders > Ausgabe 1/2018
Mariusz Korkosz, Marcin Czepiel, Zofia Guła, Małgorzata Stec, Kazimierz Węglarczyk, Magdalena Rutkowska-Zapała, Anna Gruca, Marzena Lenart, Jarosław Baran, Jerzy Gąsowski, Przemysław Błyszczuk, Maciej Siedlar
Wichtige Hinweise
Mariusz Korkosz and Marcin Czepiel contributed equally to this work.



Axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) is characterized by significant bone loss caused by dysregulation of physiological bone turnover, possibly resulting from intensified differentiation of osteoclasts. The aim of this study was to reevaluate the levels of osteoclastogenesis-mediating factors: soluble RANKL, M-CSF, OPG and other cytokines in sera of untreated, with sDMARDs and/or bDMARDs, axSpA patients and to test whether these sera influence differentiation of healthy monocytes towards osteoclast lineage.


Bone remodeling molecules (RANKL, M-CSF, OPG, IL-6, OSM, IL-17A, TGFβ, and TNFα) were evaluated in 27 patients with axSpA and 23 age and sex-matched controls. Disease activity (BASDAI, ASDAS) and inflammatory markers (ESR, CRP) were assessed. Monocytes obtained from healthy individuals were cultured in vitro in presence of sera from 11 randomly chosen axSpA patients and 10 controls, with addition of exogenous M-CSF and/or RANKL or without. Osteoclastic differentiation was assessed analyzing osteoclast markers (cathepsin K and RANK at mRNA level) and with osteoclast-specific staining.


axSpA patients’ sera levels of soluble RANKL were significantly lower and M-CSF, IL-6, OSM, IL-17A and TNFα significantly higher in comparison to controls, whereas of OPG and TGFβ were comparable in both groups. Numbers of generated in vitro osteoclasts and cathepsin K mRNA levels did not differ between cultures supplemented with sera of healthy and axSpA patients, both in the absence and presence of M-CSF. Instead, addition of exogenous RANKL boosted osteoclastogenesis, which was significantly higher in cultures with axSpA sera. Furthermore, sera from axSpA patients induced substantially higher levels of RANK mRNA, independently of M-CSF and RANKL stimulation.


We show that, paradoxically, serum levels of soluble RANKL observed in axSpA are in fact significantly lower in comparison to healthy blood donors. Our results indicate that sera of axSpA patients - in contrary to healthy subjects - contain circulating, soluble factors (presumably IL-6, OSM, IL-17A, TNFα and others) able to stimulate healthy monocytes responsiveness to even relative low RANKL serum levels, by inducing high RANK mRNA expression and - as a net effect - boosting their osteoclastogenic potential. We suggest also that locally produced RANKL in axSpA may induce overactive osteoclasts from their precursors.
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