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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Recruitment, augmentation and apoptosis of rat osteoclasts in 1,25-(OH)2D3 response to short-term treatment with 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3in vivo

Dengshun Miao1 and Andrew Scutt2*

Author Affiliations

1 Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal QC, H3A 1A1, Canada

2 Tissue Engineering/Department of Engineering Materials University of Sheffield Sheffield S1 3JD, UK

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2002, 3:16  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-3-16

Published: 7 June 2002



Although much is known about the regulation of osteoclast (OC) formation and activity, little is known about OC senescence. In particular, the fate of of OC seen after 1,25-(OH)2D3 administration in vivo is unclear. There is evidence that the normal fate of OC is to undergo apoptosis (programmed cell death). We have investigated the effect of short-term application of high dose 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25-(OH)2D3) on OC apoptosis in an experimental rat model.


OC recruitment, augmentation and apoptosis was visualised and quantitated by staining histochemically for tartrate resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP), double staining for TRAP/ED1 or TRAP/DAPI, in situ DNA fragmentation end labelling and histomorphometric analysis.


Short-term treatment with high-dose 1,25-(OH)2D3 increased the recruitment of OC precursors in the bone marrow resulting in a short-lived increase in OC numbers. This was rapidly followed by an increase in the number of apoptotic OC and their subsequent removal. The response of OC to 1,25-(OH)2D3 treatment was dose and site dependent; higher doses producing stronger, more rapid responses and the response in the tibiae being consistently stronger and more rapid than in the vertebrae.


This study demonstrates that (1) after recruitment, OC are removed from the resorption site by apoptosis (2) the combined use of TRAP and ED1 can be used to identify OC and their precursors in vivo (3) double staining for TRAP and DAPI or in situ DNA fragmentation end labelling can be used to identify apoptotic OC in vivo.