NELL-1 Injection Maintains Long Bone Quantity and Quality in Ovariectomy-Induced Osteoporotic Senile Rat Model
Over 10 million Americans have osteoporosis, and is the predominant cause of fractures in the elderly. Treatment of fractures in the setting of osteoporosis is complicated by a suboptimal bone regenerative response due to a decline in the number of osteoblasts, their function and survival. Consequently, an osteogenic therapeutic to prevent and treat fractures in osteoporotic patients is needed. NELL-1 (Nel-like molecule-1), a novel osteoinductive growth factor, has been shown to promote bone regeneration. In this study, we aim to demonstrate the capacity of recombinant NELL-1 to prevent ovariectomy (OVX)-induced osteoporosis in a senile rat model. Ten month old female Sprague Dawley rats underwent either sham surgery or OVX. Subsequently, 50 uL of 600 ug/ml NELL-1 lyophilized onto 0-50 um tricalcium phosphate (TCP) carrier was injected into the femoral bone marrow cavity while phosphate buffered saline (PBS) control was injected into the contralateral femur. Our microCT results showed that OVX+PBS/TCP control femurs showed a continuous decrease in bone volume (BV) and bone mineral density (BMD) from 2 to 8 weeks post-OVX. In contrast, OVX+NELL-1/TCP femurs showed resistance to OVX-induced bone resorption showing BV and BMD levels similar to that of SHAM femurs at 8 weeks post-OVX. Histology showed increased endosteal woven bone, as well as decreased adipocytes in the bone marrow of NELL-1 treated femurs compared to control. NELL-1 treated femurs also showed increased immunostaining for bone differentiation markers Osteopontin (OPN) and Osteocalcin (OCN). These findings were validated in vitro, in which overexpression of NELL-1 in OVX bone marrow stem cells resulted in increased osteogenic differentiation. Thus, NELL-1 effectively enhances in situ osteogenesis in the bone marrow, making it potentially useful in the prevention and treatment of osteoporotic fractures.