Osteoclasts are multinucleated giant cells differentiated from monocyte-macrophage-lineage cells under stimulation of receptor activator of nuclear factor κ-B (RANK) ligand (RANKL) produced by osteoblasts and osteocytes. Although it has been reported that nitric oxide (NO) and reactive oxygen species (ROS) are involved in this process, the mechanism by which these labile molecules promote osteoclast differentiation are not fully understood. In this study, we investigated the formation and function of 8-nitro-cGMP, a downstream molecule of NO and ROS, in the process of osteoclast differentiation in vitro. 8-Nitro-cGMP was detected in mouse bone marrow macrophages and osteoclasts differentiated from macrophages in the presence of RANKL. Inhibition of NO synthase suppressed the formation of 8-nitro-cGMP as well as RANKL-induced osteoclast differentiation from macrophages. On the other hand, RANKL-induced osteoclast differentiation was promoted by addition of 8-nitro-cGMP to the cultures. In addition, 8-nitro-cGMP enhanced the mRNA expression of RANK, the receptor for RANKL. However, 8-bromo-cGMP, a membrane-permeable derivative of cGMP, did not have an effect on either RANKL-induced osteoclast differentiation or expression of the RANK gene. These results suggest that 8-nitro-cGMP is a novel positive regulator of osteoclast differentiation, which might help to explain the roles of NO and ROS in osteoclast differentiation.
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