Bone is a dynamic organ that undergoes continuous remodeling through the action of osteoblasts that create new bone and osteoclasts that resorb old bone. To identify factors that control the behaviors of osteoclasts, Kikuta et al. used intravital multiphoton micrscopy to visualize fluorescently-labeled, mature osteoclast in the bones of live mice. The accompanying image is a computer model of the bone surface (blue) with attached osteoclasts (green) interacting with a Th17 cell (red).
Osteoclasts are bone resorbing, multinucleate cells that differentiate from mononuclear macrophage/monocyte-lineage hematopoietic precursor cells. Although previous studies have revealed important molecular signals, how the bone resorptive functions of such cells are controlled in vivo remains less well characterized. Here, we visualized fluorescently labeled mature osteoclasts in intact mouse bone tissues using intravital multiphoton microscopy. Within this mature population, we observed cells with distinct motility behaviors and function, with the relative proportion of static – bone resorptive (R) to moving – nonresorptive (N) varying in accordance with the pathophysiological conditions of the bone. We also found that rapid application of the osteoclast-activation factor RANKL converted many N osteoclasts to R, suggesting a novel point of action in RANKL-mediated control of mature osteoclast function. Furthermore, we showed that Th17 cells, a subset of RANKL-expressing CD4+ T cells, could induce rapid N-to-R conversion of mature osteoclasts via cell-cell contact. These findings provide new insights into the activities of mature osteoclasts in situ and identify actions of RANKL-expressing Th17 cells in inflammatory bone destruction.
Junichi Kikuta, Yoh Wada, Toshiyuki Kowada, Ze Wang, Ge-Hong Sun-Wada, Issei Nishiyama, Shin Mizukami, Nobuhiko Maiya, Hisataka Yasuda, Atsushi Kumanogoh, Kazuya Kikuchi, Ronald N. Germain, Masaru Ishii