To investigate the role of IL-6 in alcohol-mediated osteoporosis, we measured a variety of bone remodeling parameters in wild-type (il6+/+) or IL-6 gene knockout (il6–/–) mice that were fed either control or ethanol liquid diets for 4 months. In the il6+/+ mice, ethanol ingestion decreased bone mineral density, as determined by dual-energy densitometry; decreased cancellous bone volume and trabecular width and increased trabecular spacing and osteoclast surface, as determined by histomorphometry of the femur; increased urinary deoxypyridinolines, as determined by ELISA; and increased CFU-GM formation and osteoclastogenesis as determined ex vivo in bone marrow cell cultures. In contrast, ethanol ingestion did not alter any of these parameters in the il6–/– mice. Ethanol increased receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL) mRNA expression in the bone marrow of il6+/+ but not il6–/– mice. Additionally, ethanol decreased several osteoblastic parameters including osteoblast perimeter and osteoblast culture calcium retention in both il6+/+ and il6–/– mice. These findings demonstrate that ethanol induces bone loss through IL-6. Furthermore, they suggest that IL-6 achieves this effect by inducing RANKL and promoting CFU-GM formation and osteoclastogenesis.


Jinlu Dai, Dinlii Lin, Jian Zhang, Paula Habib, Peter Smith, Jill Murtha, Zheng Fu, Zhi Yao, Yinghua Qi, Evan T. Keller


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