Objective. Glucocorticoid (GC) excess induces alterations in bone metabolism that weaken bone structure and increase fracture risk. The aim of this study was to identify genes associated with bone metabolism in GC-treated mice, by performing a microarray analysis. Methods. Long bones from mice exposed to GC excess were collected after 0, 7, 28, and 56 days of treatment, to measure bone microarchitecture and extract RNA for microarray analyses. Results. Bone loss in this animal model was confirmed by changes in bone turnover markers as well as bone architecture, as measured by microfocal computed tomography. GC excess induced an early upregulation of genes involved in osteoclast activation, function, and adipogenesis, which peaked on day 7. The expression of genes associated with osteoclast cytoskeletal reorganization and genes associated with matrix degradation peaked on day 28. On day 28 and day 56, the expression of genes associated with osteoblast activation and maturation was decreased from baseline, while the expression of Wnt antagonists was increased. In addition, the expression of genes expressed in osteocytes associated with bone mineralization was significantly higher at the later time points, day 28 and day 56. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction confirmed the results of microarray analysis in selected genes. Conclusion. GC excess is associated with early activation of genes associated with osteoclastogenesis and adipogenesis and a later suppression of genes associated with osteogenesis and mineralization. Novel interventions with agents that modulate either Wnt signaling or mineralization may be effective in GC-induced osteoporosis.
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