• bone;
  • osteoclasts;
  • differentiation;
  • serotonin;
  • neural regulation


5-HTT mediates antidepressant-sensitive clearance of 5-HT after its release into neural synapses. We found increased expression of 5-HTT in RANKL-induced osteoclast-like cells. Fluoxetine, an inhibitor of 5-HTT, reduced osteoclast differentiation but not activation. Reserpine, an inhibitor of 5-HT intracellular transport, potentiated differentiation. These results indicate a role for 5-HTT in osteoclast function and suggest that commonly used antidepressive agents may affect bone mass.

Introduction: Interactions between the serotonergic and skeletal systems are suggested by various clinical observations but are poorly understood.

Materials and Methods: Using gene microarrays, we found that the serotonin transporter (5-HTT) was strongly expressed in RANKL-induced osteoclasts. Using RANKL stimulation of RAW264.7 cells and mouse bone marrow cells as a model system for osteoclast differentiation, we studied the possible role/s of the different components of the serotonin (5-HT) system on the differentiation process.

Results: Osteoclast 5-HTT exhibited typical 5-HT uptake activity that was inhibitable by fluoxetine (Prozac). Fluoxetine reduced osteoclast differentiation but did not inhibit the activation of preformed osteoclasts, whereas the addition of 5-HT itself enhanced differentiation. Fluoxetine-treated osteoclast precursors had reduced NF-κB activation and elevated inhibitory protein κBα (IκBα) levels compared with untreated cells. 5-HT, on the other hand, resulted in activation of NF-κB. Reserpine inhibition of intracellular transport of 5-HT into cytoplasmic vesicles potentiated RANKL-induced osteoclast formation, suggesting the importance of intracellular 5-HT in regulating osteoclast differentiation. Reserpine also modestly enhanced the expression of the osteoclast marker TRACP in the absence of RANKL.

Conclusions: Taken together, these data suggest that the 5-HT system plays an important role in bone homeostasis through effects on osteoclast differentiation and implies that commonly used antidepressive agents may affect bone mass.