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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

TNF inhibits production of stromal cell-derived factor 1 by bone stromal cells and increases osteoclast precursor mobilization from bone marrow to peripheral blood

Qian Zhang1, Ruolin Guo1, Edward M Schwarz2, Brendan F Boyce12 and Lianping Xing12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Rochester Medical Center, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Box 626, Rochester, NY 14642, USA

2 Center for Musculoskeletal Research, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY 14642, USA

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2008, 10:R37  doi:10.1186/ar2391

Published: 27 March 2008



The objective of the present study was to investigate the role of the stromal cell-derived factor 1 (SDF-1)/CXCR4 axis in TNF-induced mobilization of osteoclast precursors (OCPs) from bone marrow.


OCPs were generated from bone marrow cells of TNF-transgenic mice or wild-type mice treated with TNF or PBS. The percentage of CD11b+/Gr-1-/lo OCPs was assessed by fluorescence-activated cell sorting. OCP migration to the SDF-1 gradient and the osteoclast forming potency were assessed in chemotaxis/osteoclastogenic assays. SDF-1 expression was assessed by real-time RT-PCR, ELISA and immunostaining in primary bone marrow stromal cells, in the ST2 bone marrow stromal cell line, and in bones from TNF-injected mice.


OCPs generated in vitro from wild-type mice migrated to SDF-1 gradients and subsequently gave rise to osteoclasts in response to RANKL and macrophage colony-stimulating factor. TNF reduced SDF-1 expression by ST2 cells. Bone marrow stromal cells from TNF-transgenic mice produced low levels of SDF-1. TNF treatment of wild-type mice decreased the SDF-1 concentration in bone marrow extracts and decreased the SDF-1 immunostaining of bone marrow stromal cells, and it also increased the circulating OCP numbers. The percentage of bone marrow CXCR4+ OCPs was similar in TNF-transgenic mice and wild-type littermates and in TNF-treated and PBS-treated wild-type mice.


Systemically elevated TNF levels inhibit bone marrow stromal cell production of SDF-1 and increase the release of bone marrow OCPs to the peripheral blood. Disruption of the SDF-1/CXCR4 axis by TNF may play an important role in mediating OCP mobilization from the bone marrow cavity in chronic inflammatory arthritis.