Skeletal recovery after weaning does not require PTHrP


  • This article was presented in part at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research, Denver, CO, USA, September 12, 2009..


Mice lose 20% to 25% of trabecular bone mineral content (BMC) during lactation and restore it after weaning through unknown mechanisms. We found that tibial Pthrp mRNA expression was upregulated fivefold by 7 days after weaning versus end of lactation in wild-type (WT) mice. To determine whether parathyroid hormone–related protein (PTHrP) stimulates bone formation after weaning, we studied a conditional knockout in which PTHrP is deleted from preosteoblasts and osteoblasts by collagen I promoter–driven Cre (CreColI). These mice are osteopenic as adults but have normal serum calcium, calcitriol, and parathyroid hormone (PTH). Pairs of Pthrpflox/flox;CreColI (null) and WT;CreColI (WT) females were mated and studied through pregnancy, lactation, and 3 weeks of postweaning recovery. By end of lactation, both genotypes lost lumbar spine BMC: WT declined by 20.6% ± 3.3%, and null decreased by 22.5% ± 3.5% (p < .0001 versus baseline; p = NS between genotypes). During postweaning recovery, both restored BMC to baseline: WT to –3.6% ± 3.7% and null to 0.3% ± 3.7% (p = NS versus baseline or between genotypes). Similar loss and full recovery of BMC were seen at the whole body and hind limb. Histomorphometry confirmed that nulls had lower bone mass at baseline and that this was equal to the value achieved after weaning. Osteocalcin, propeptide of type 1 collagen (P1NP), and deoxypyridinoline increased equally during recovery in WT and null mice; PTH decreased and calcitriol increased equally; serum calcium was unchanged. Urine calcium increased during recovery but remained no different between genotypes. Although osteoblast-derived PTHrP is required to maintain adult bone mass and Pthrp mRNA upregulates in bone after weaning, it is not required for recovery of bone mass after lactation. The factors that stimulate postweaning bone formation remain unknown. © 2011 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.