Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Cell Biology and BioMed Central.

Open Access Open Badges Research article

Interleukin-10 inhibits osteoclastogenesis by reducing NFATc1 expression and preventing its translocation to the nucleus

Kathryn E Evans* and Simon W Fox

Author Affiliations

Ecotoxicology and Stress Biology Research Group, School of Biological Science, University of Plymouth, UK

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Cell Biology 2007, 8:4  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-8-4

Published: 19 January 2007



IL-10 has a potent inhibitory effect on osteoclastogenesis. In vitro and in vivo studies confirm the importance of this cytokine in bone metabolism, for instance IL-10-deficient mice develop the hallmarks of osteoporosis. Although it is known that IL-10 directly inhibits osteoclastogenesis at an early stage, preventing differentiation of osteoclast progenitors to preosteoclasts, the precise mechanism of its action is not yet clear. Several major pathways regulate osteoclastogenesis, with key signalling genes such as p38, TRAF6, NF-κB and NFATc1 well established as playing vital roles. We have looked at gene expression in eleven of these genes using real-time quantitative PCR on RNA extracted from RANKL-treated RAW264.7 monocytes.


There was no downregulation by IL-10 of DAP12, FcγRIIB, c-jun, RANK, TRAF6, p38, NF-κB, Gab2, Pim-1, or c-Fos at the mRNA level. However, we found that IL-10 significantly reduces RANKL-induced NFATc1 expression. NFATc1 is transcribed from two alternative promoters in Mus musculus and, interestingly, only the variant transcribed from promoter P1 and beginning with exon 1 was downregulated by IL-10 (isoform 1). In addition, immunofluorescence studies showed that IL-10 reduces NFATc1 levels in RANKL-treated precursors and suppresses nuclear translocation. The inhibitory effect of IL-10 on tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase-positive cell number and NFATc1 mRNA expression was reversed by the protein kinase C agonist phorbol myristate acetate, providing evidence that interleukin-10 disrupts NFATc1 activity through its effect on Ca2+ mobilisation.


IL-10 acts directly on mononuclear precursors to inhibit NFATc1 expression and nuclear translocation, and we provide evidence that the mechanism may involve disruption of Ca2+ mobilisation. We detected downregulation only of the NFATc1 isoform 1 transcribed from promoter P1. This is the first report indicating that one of the ways in which IL-10 directly inhibits osteoclastogenesis is by suppressing NFATc1 activity.