• PGE2;


Glucocorticoids are known to induce osteocyte apoptosis, whereas mechanical loading has been shown to sustain osteocyte viability. Here we show that mechanical loading in the form of fluid-flow shear stress blocks dexamethasone-induced apoptosis of osteocyte-like cells (MLO-Y4). Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), a rapidly induced signaling molecule produced by osteocytes, was shown to be protective against dexamethasone-induced apoptosis, whereas indomethacin reversed the antiapoptotic effects of shear stress. This protective effect of shear stress was mediated through EP2 and EP4 receptors, leading to activation of the cAMP/protein kinase A signaling pathway. Activation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, an inhibitor of glycogen synthesis kinase 3, also occurred, leading to the nuclear translocation of β-catenin, an important signal transducer of the Wnt signaling pathway. Both shear stress and prostaglandin increased the phosphorylation of glycogen synthesis kinase 3 α/β. Lithium chloride, an activator of the Wnt pathway, also was protective against glucocorticoid-induced apoptosis. Whereas it is known that mechanical loading increases cyclooxygenase-2 and EP2 receptor expression and prostaglandin production, dexamethasone was shown to inhibit expression of these components of the prostaglandin pathway and to reduce β-catenin protein expression. β-catenin siRNA knockdown experiments abrogated the protective effects of PGE2, confirming the central role of β-catenin in mediating the protection against dexamethasone-induced cell death. Our data support a central role for PGE2 acting through the cAMP/PKA and β-catenin signaling pathways in the protection of osteocyte apoptosis by fluid-flow shear stress. © 2010 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.