We recently identified a new gene, klotho, which is involved in the suppression of multiple aging phenotypes. The mouse homozygous for a disruption of the klotho locus (kl/kl) exhibited multiple pathological conditions resembling human aging. Histomorphometric analysis revealed low- turnover osteopenia in kl/kl mice. The decrease in bone formation exceeded that of bone resorption, resulting in a net bone loss. The number of osteoblast progenitors determined by ex vivo bone marrow cultures was reduced in kl/kl mice. In addition, cultured osteoblastic cells derived from kl/kl mice showed lower alkaline phosphatase activity and matrix nodule formation than those from wild-type mice. Osteoclastogenesis in the coculture of marrow cells and osteoblastic cells was decreased only when marrow cells originated from kl/kl mice independently of the origin of osteoblastic cells. We also found that the expression of osteoprotegerin, an osteoclastogenesis inhibitor, was significantly upregulated in kl/kl mice. We conclude that a defect in the klotho gene expression causes the independent impairment of both osteoblast and osteoclast differentiation, leading to low-turnover osteopenia. Because this state represents a characteristic feature of senile osteoporosis in humans, kl/kl mice can be regarded as a useful model for investigating cellular and molecular mechanisms of age-related bone loss.
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